HEALTH

Nielsen: Dollar stores a destination for basic household products in recession

BY Michael Johnsen

ORLANDO, Fla. The economic downturn has been a boon to dollar stores, which attracted increased consumer spending in 2008, including spending among high and middle income shoppers, according to a report issued by The Nielsen Company on Tuesday.

Nielsen’s analysis of consumer shopping habits shows consumers at all income levels shopping more at dollar stores, with high income shoppers spending 18% more at dollar stores in the second half of 2008, compared with the prior year.

Dollar stores are outpacing major consumer packaged goods channels among both low and high income shoppers. According to Nielsen, an estimated 65 million U.S. consumers shopped at dollar stores in 2008.

“The troubled economy and rising costs in healthcare, education and food have caused everyone — even those with high incomes — to rethink where they purchase basic household goods,” stated Jeff Gregori, VP retail services for The Nielsen Company. “Five years ago, shoppers weren’t sure what they would find in a dollar store. Today, dollar stores are delivering more consistent selection and value, and consumers are shopping dollar stores more regularly to fulfill their basic CPG needs.”

However, despite the increase in spending among high and middle income shoppers, low income shoppers are still the primary dollar store customer. According to Nielsen’s research, 45% of dollar store sales are from low annual household incomes (below $30,000), 47% from middle incomes (between $30,000 and $99,900), and only 8% from high incomes (greater than $100,000).

The most loyal dollar store customers tend to have low incomes and live in small towns and rural areas or in urban centers. Senior couples, senior singles (particularly widows) and younger families with children are more likely to shop in dollar stores only occasionally, relying on other retail channels to meet the rest of their household needs.

In terms of products, dollar stores have become a regular shopping destination for everyday household staples. Among those who regularly shop at dollar stores, the most commonly purchased household items include paper goods, such as napkins and paper towels, detergent, trash bags and cleaning and laundry supplies. The most common edible items are candy, snacks and cookies.

“With more shoppers having positive experiences at dollar stores, there is a significant opportunity for dollar stores and CPG manufacturers to build loyalty and expand into new product categories, such as food and beverages and select health and beauty care,” Gregori said. “There is also a potential growth opportunity in exploring dollar store private label offerings in both edible and non-edible products. The challenge for dollar stores and CPG manufacturers is to get the product mix right to meet the needs of their traditional customers as well as new customers with higher incomes.”

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Mosquito gut bacteria may inhibit malaria parasite, researchers say

BY Michael Johnsen

BALTIMORE, Md. Bacteria in the gut of a mosquito may inhibit infection of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria in humans, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Scientists with the Bloomberg School’s Malaria Research Institute found that removing these bacteria, or microbial flora, with antibiotics made the mosquitoes more susceptible to Plasmodium infection because of a lack of immune stimulation. Their study is published in the May 8, edition of the journal PLoS Pathogens.

“Our study suggests that the microbial flora of mosquitoes is stimulating immune activity that protects the mosquito from Plasmodium infection,” stated George Dimopoulos, senior author of the study and associate professor with Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. “The same immune factors that are needed to control the mosquito’s infection from the microbes are also defending against the malaria parasite Plasmodium. … The interplay between bacteria and the mosquito’s immune system may have significant implications for the transmission of malaria in the field where mosquitoes may be exposed to different types of bacteria in different regions. Theoretically, these bacteria could be introduced to the mosquitoes to boost their immunity to the malaria parasite and make them resistant and incapable of spreading the disease. Our current research aims at identifying those bacteria that trigger the strongest mosquito immune defense against the malaria parasite.”

Malaria kills more than one million people worldwide each year; the majority of deaths are among children living in Africa.

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Herb works as anti-ulcer therapy, study shows

BY Michael Johnsen

BEIJING A research team led by Syed Rafatullah from Saudi Arabia validated the gastric anti-ulcer properties of the herb Rocket “Eruca sativa L.” (EER) on experimentally-induced gastric secretion and ulceration in albino rats. The study was published April 28 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

In recent years, Rocket “Eruca sativa L.” (EER), a member of the Brassicacae family, has gained greater importance as a salad vegetable and spice, especially among Middle Eastern populations and Europeans. It is believed that plants belonging to the Brassicacae family possess diversified medicinal and therapeutic properties including inhibition of tumorigenesis, anti-ulcer and hepatoprotective activities.

Although the introduction of proton-pump inhibitors to the classic anti-ulcer therapy has revolutionized treatment of peptic ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders, there is still no complete cure for this disease, researchers noted. It has been shown that long term use of these drugs leads to various adverse and side effects. Relapses of the malady, ineffectiveness of different drug regimens and even resistance to drugs are emerging. Thus, there is an urgent requirement to identify more effective and safe anti-ulcer agents.

Researchers found that the ethanolic extract of EER significantly and dose-dependently reduced basal gastric acid secretion, titratable acidity and ruminal ulceration in lab rats. The authors concluded that EER extract possesses anti-ulcer activities against experimentally-induced gastric lesions.

KelloggsDRSNhttp://www.centerstoregrowth.com

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