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More shoppers buying economy-sized items to save money in hard times

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Given the current state of the economy, nearly half of U.S. consumers are looking to help stretch their dollars by buying larger economy-sized offerings, according to a consumer survey released by the Nielsen Company on Tuesday.

Conversely, only 17 percent of consumers prefer new, smaller pack products at lower pricepoints.

“Without question, this is an extremely tough time for today’s consumer,” said Todd Hale, senior vice president, consumer and shopper insights for the Nielsen Company. “CPG manufacturers and retailers have few options to manage rising commodity costs beyond absorbing increased costs, passing on increases to consumers by raising prices or cover increased costs by downsizing offerings,” he said. “Downsizing, in particular, is not a new option—we’ve seen downsizing over the last few years in a number of categories, including ice cream, cereal, candy bars, salty snacks and paper products.”

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Tops plans store renovations; considers opening seven to 10 new stores

BY Jenna Duncan

BUFFALO, N.Y. Tops Markets announced this week that it may add seven to 10 stores to its roster and also may overhaul existing stores with a $150 million renovation plan.

Tops has said that its plans for renovations are part of a strategy to strengthen competition as the nation’s leading U.S. grocery chain. The renovation plans would be applied to 60 of the 76 Tops stores and would take about five years to complete, the company said. Tops also said that new stores would be located in Rochester, Buffalo and New York City, New York.

The Tops network of grocery stores was acquired last year from Royal Ahold by Morgan Stanley Private Equity for $310 million.

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Party Beans lets online shoppers design and send candy tins as inexpensive holiday gift

BY Melissa Valliant

FAIRFIELD, Calif. A brand new startup called PartyBeans was launched Thursday and allows users to inexpensively create, personalize and ship their own JellyBelly, mints or gum tin. The site provides Christmas images or graphics for other special holidays, including birthday, anniversary, Hannukah, New Year and graduation, or users can upload their own photos, logos or images.

The tins can also fit a few lines of text, so designers can include a message, and they can be filled with either a mix of various JellyBelly flavors, or one or two flavors selected by the creator. The finished product will barely affect buyers’ wallets, costing a minimum of $5, shipping included.

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