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Nielsen: Shoppers will keep wallets close this holiday season

BY Antoinette Alexander

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. Consumers will seek value this holiday season and will continue to watch their dollars as confidence in the economy, while up slightly, remains below pre-recession levels, according to The Nielsen Co.

“Consumers are concerned about the jobless recovery and managing their personal finances. As a result, they are closely planning their spending and continue to reduce their shopping trips while placing more emphasis on value. Fewer shopping trips make every retail interaction critical this holiday season, and retailers need to turn this increased but restrained optimism into sales,” stated James Russo, VP global consumer insights for Nielsen, who noted that value is not about price but the balance between price and benefits.

The Nielsen Co. predicted consumer holiday spending to closely reflect 2009 spending with flat dollar sales at roughly $89 billion, and flat to declining unit sales, down 0.15%.

More consumers plan to buy this season, with 36% saying they will spend less, compared with 42% in 2009. Driving the increases in spending will be lower-income consumers, with 6% of those households earning less than $20,000 planning to spend more, compared with 4% of higher-income households ($100,000-plus) planning to do so.

Among those consumers with incomes of $50,000 or less, dollar stores will be a key shopping destination for the holiday season — whereas consumers earning $70,000, as well as those earning $100,000 or more, will drive online store visits, according to Nielsen. Consumers plan to spend less this year in mass merchandiser stores, while plans for spending in supercenters, club, grocery, toy, book and office supply stores remain flat.

So what’s hot on the shopping list? Nielsen predicted a strong season for technology products and gift cards, with some possible upside surprises in such discretionary items as apparel, toys, video games, books and even vacations, especially among upper-income households ($100,000-plus).

Discretionary items, such as jewelry and DVDs, are forecasted to see a slight uptick, while spending on sporting goods, CDs, cookware and bed and bath items will be flat.

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GPhA and FDA to discuss me-too medicines at technical conference

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON —More than a dozen top Food and Drug Administration officials will meet with generic drug industry leaders next month to discuss the latest regulatory and technical developments on the me-too medicine front, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association announced.

The GPhA/FDA 2010 Fall Technical Conference will kick off Oct. 19 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Maryland. On hand will be a slate of FDA officials, led by Janet Woodcock, director of the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Woodcock will deliver the keynote address. Also speaking at the three-day annual event will be Keith Webber, acting director of the FDA’s Office of Generic Drugs; Lawrence Yu, deputy director of science and chemistry for the agency’s generic division; and Ilisa Bernstein, a pharmacist and attorney who is acting deputy director of CDER’s Office of Compliance.

The list of scheduled speakers also includes Dale Conner and Barbara Davit, who head OGD bioequivalence activities.

“Last year, over 500 industry and FDA professionals attended this important, educational event,” the GPhA noted. “More than 150 staff members from the FDA’s Office of Generic Drugs joined their industry colleagues to share information and discuss issues that are critical to both industry and the FDA.”

A GPhA representative called the event “the premiere science and regulatory meeting for the generic pharmaceutical industry,” and added, “GPhA’s Fall Technical Conference is the only conference of its kind where attendees can hear presentations by OGD staff and meet them during the many networking opportunities.”

Among the topics that will be addressed are labeling issues for abbreviated new drug applications, chemistry manufacturing and controls, trends in drug compliance and supply chain security, and the 180-day market exclusivity awarded to first-approved ANDAs.

Networking opportunities, according to the GPhA, include two breakfasts, luncheons, morning and afternoon refreshment breaks, a reception and a buffet dinner and party on Oct. 20.

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Giving snacks that extra ‘Pop’

BY DSN STAFF

FREEPORT, N.Y. — Medora Snacks has introduced a new, healthy snack option to the snack market. PopCorners snacks are popcorn chips made from all-natural ingredients that are popped, not baked or fried. The chips can be eaten alone or paired with a dip.

The chips are available in four flavors—white cheddar, butter, sea salt and kettle—and in 1.1-oz. and 5-oz. packages.

Popcorn sales are on the rise. Linda Fishman, Medora Snacks’ president, said popcorn sales were up 21% in the past year. PopCorners, she said, are an ideal choice for consumers who are demanding healthier snacks. The new snacks are free of trans fat, gluten and cholesterol.

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