Consumer and retail news: 10 things you need to know today

In-n-out burger

Adam Lau/Associated Press

1. A man is reportedly going to jail for selling fake In-and-Out franchises and making more than $US4 million.

A Newport Beach, California resident allegedly pretended he had the ability to sell In-N-Out franchises — and now is reportedly going to prison. Craig Stevens said he had ambitious plans of opening In-N-Out franchises in the Middle East. With these grandiose promises, Stevens was allegedly able to swindle over $US4.27 million dollars from ten investors last year.

2. Taco Bell to switch to only cage-free eggs by end of 2016.

Taco Bell pledged Monday that only cage-free eggs would be served across it 6,000 domestic units by the end of 2016. The chain is also ditching trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup and unsustainable palm oil, and units in the U.S. and Canada will introduce aspartame-free Diet Pepsi products, the company said.

3. Alibaba is dominating — but the retailer still has a $US161 million problem that founder Jack Ma compared to cancer.

Last week, Alibaba made history when it sold $US14 billion of merchandise in a single day — more than Cyber Monday and Black Friday online sales combined. But the retailer is still working to tackle one huge problem: counterfeit goods. Since 2013, Alibaba spent $US161 million to eradicate the problem, which founder Jack Ma once called “a cancer we have to deal with.

4. Chipotle’s brand perception is tanking.

Chipotle’s recent E. coli contamination scare is hurting consumers’ perception of the brand. The company has since reopened all of its restaurants, but consumers are still wary of eating there. Consumer perception of the brand is at its lowest level since 2007.

5. Americans have been developing a new shopping habit for years — and now it’s hurting Nordstrom, Macy’s, and JC Penney

US consumers have been trained to never pay full price for anything, and it’s crushing some American retailers. Shoppers started gravitating toward discount stores during the recession, and many have failed to return to shopping in full-price stores. Now retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom are paying the price.

6. The Brazilian private equity titan who bought Kraft, Heinz, and Burger King is behind the beer deal of the century.

Jorge Lemann is behind some of America’s most iconic consumer brands. The Brazilian billionaire’s investment company, 3G Capital, has invested in or backed takeovers of Kraft, Heinz, Burger King, and Anheuser Busch. Now, Anheuser Busch InBev — which counts Lemann among its controlling shareholders — has sealed a $US108 billion deal to merge with SABMiller.

7. Marriott is buying Starwood for $US12.2 billion, creating the world’s largest hotel company

Marriott International is acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts, creating the world’s largest hotel company. The deal is valued at $US12.2 billion, consisting of $US11.9 billion worth of Marriott stock and $US340 million in cash. Combined, the company will be able to offer 1.1 million rooms in more than 5,500 hotels across more than 100 countries.

8. Here’s what you should order from Chipotle, McDonalds, and 12 other fast-food chains for lunch if you don’t want to fall asleep at work

While we know that what you eat for lunch affects your productivity for the rest of the day, this doesn’t mean you have to rule out convenience for the sake of healthy choices. Plenty of chains offer meal options that are heavy on the protein and healthy fats and easy on the carbs and bad fats, which is just what you need to avoid the 3 p.m. slump.

9. PepsiCo is cutting down corporate jobs.

PepsiCo is cutting its global marketing procurement team which resulted in several job losses. The move will see that the individual brand teams take responsibility of the marketing ad spend going forward. PepsiCo said the move was an evolution to its current operating model and set to be “more efficient” and “stay competitive” for the future.

10. Chefs reveal the most overpriced restaurant foods.

From fried calamari to lobster mac & cheese, here are some items chefs say restaurants consistently charge too much for.

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