On Thursday, January 19, the consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble
P&G products are ubiquitous on store shelves throughout the U.S., including everything from Tide detergent and Febreze air fresheners to Pampers diapers, Crest toothpaste, and Head & Shoulders hair care. This broad market presence usually makes P&G a safe bet for investors, but inflation has been increasingly difficult for shoppers to manage.
For a time, consumer purchases stayed relatively steady despite the rising prices, but P&G's report highlights the fact that inflation is now affecting even the most essential items, pushing consumers to buy cheaper brands or to simply buy less.
Last quarter, P&G increased the prices of its many brands by 10%, adding to a 9% increase in the previous quarter. Those higher prices likely contributed to last quarter's 6% drop in the number of products sold, compared to a 3% drop the quarter prior.
Along with the depressed sales, the company also saw a 7% drop in profits last quarter, making it the second quarter in a row that P&G profits are down. Still, P&G's CEO, Jon Moeller, said on an analyst call that the results are "solid" considering "what continues to be a very difficult cost and operating environment."
In fact, the company has raised its forecast for sales for the current fiscal year largely thanks to lightening pressure from changes in foreign exchange rates and the high cost of commodities. P&G says it expects it revenue for the year to be flat at best, but Moeller noted that "there is an incredible amount of uncertainty that remains."
P&G is far from alone in its sales downturn. Retail sales for the U.S. were down 1.1% in December as consumers struggled to cover the increased cost of holiday shopping.