business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • In Chicago, both Albertsons’ Jewel and Safeway’s Dominick's have announced that they will begin selling irradiated beef processed using the SureBeam technology that “zaps” the product to eliminate bacteria. (Join the club…by the time the government gets around to deciding about whether the name “irradiation” should be changed to “cold pasteurization,” virtually everybody will be selling irradiated ground beef, customers will have been informed of its benefits, and it all will be a moot point…)

  • Reports out of California say that Fleming is likely to sell 28 supermarkets there to Save Mart for about $150 million, as part of its strategy to get rid of all its retail operations.

  • PlanetRetail reports that in Australia, Coles Myer plans to introduce special checkout lanes in its supermarkets where plastic bags are banned. The goal is to pre-empt legislation that would force retailers to charge for plastic bags, as they have in Ireland. (They shouldn’t worry so much…in Ireland, Superquinn managed to turn the surcharge into a marketing tool for its own cloth bags…)

  • PlanetRetail reports that in the UK, Tesco plans to roll out more of its Nutri Centres, as well as double the number of units carrying its Nutri Centre products. Tesco acquired a 51% stake in Nutri Centre last year in order to build its presence in the natural products category; it has been opening store-within-a-store departments, which include 3,000 SKUs and on-staff nutritionists.

  • The International Mass Retail Association (IMRA) reports that one in 10 holiday shoppers will begin buying holiday gifts the day after Thanksgiving, and that a third of all shoppers say they expect to finish their holiday shopping by the end of November. However, there are a couple of reasons why this may not be true this year. For one thing, last year only 15 percent said they finished their shopping in November; for another, Thanksgiving is last this year, falling on November 28…meaning that shoppers would only have another two days to do all their shopping. (Our feeling is that the day after Thanksgiving is a perfect day for sleeping late and contemplating how many turkey sandwiches we plan to eat in front of the fire while reading a good book…not for shopping.)

  • The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that five major movie studios are launching a new Internet service, Movielink, that will allow consumers to download films to their computers for a fee. The studios are Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment; AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros.; Vivendi Universal SA's Universal Pictures; Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures; and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.; the initial library of available titles will consist of about 175 movies. (It may take some time, but we can imagine services like this one having an impact on retailers that have video departments in their stores…)

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