business news in context, analysis with attitude

• The New York Times this morning reports that “demand at food banks across the country increased by 30 percent in 2008 from the previous year, according to a survey by Feeding America, which distributes more than two billion pounds of food every year. And instead of their usual drop in customers after the holidays, many pantries in upscale suburbs this year are seeing the opposite.

The Wall Street Journal reports that while pricing has become a contentious issue between retailers and manufacturers, CEOs ate companies such as Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Nestle and Kimberly-Clark believe that they can make the increased prices of 2008 stick even as the economy continues to tumble.

• Another symbol of the times – Westfield Group, which operates 55 shopping malls all over the US, has decided to reduce opening hours at most of them, either opening 30 minutes later or closing 30 minutes earlier…or both, depending on the location.

Tulsa World reports that Harps has opened its first store in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, market, with the remodeling of a 37,000 square foot former Albertsons store there.

According to the story, “Harps has 62 stores in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, but most stores in Oklahoma are in small towns.”

The competition is tough – there is a Walmart neighborhood Market virtually next door.

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