retail news in context, analysis with attitude

I noted in a comment the other day that there was a story in the Rocky Mountain News the other day in which Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group suggested that a total of 200,000 retail stores – ranging from big box stores to the smallest mom-and-pop shop – are likely to close in 2009 because of the recession, and I noted that this is “an almost unimaginable number, and a reflection of the tough times in which we all find ourselves.”

To which one MNB user responded:

Not as much a reflection of the “tough times”, but a reflection of the market/consumer reaction to unnecessary and excessive retail expansion.

There are too many retail stores of nearly all types. We don’t need more places to buy TV’s, porterhouse steaks, pizza, hardcover books, and t-shirts. We need the right places to buy them (and at the right price). The market takes care of itself and the market is reacting….consumers are voting with their feet and those establishments that don’t answer the value proposition are going out of business.

Amen to the free market.

We had a piece the other day about “counterfeit foods,” which led MNB user Mike Blume to write:

If a consumer buys something only to be “fooled” when they get home, will they return to the same outlet to purchase that product again? I think not – and I hope not!!! You say, “Retailers should push for such improved transparency…” and I agree, but are some retailers doing the same thing? Many retailers are selling “Sweet Onions” that we call “imposters” because they are not sweet!!! Our company utilizes a third party laboratory to test our onions and to work with our growers to assure the “Sweet Onions” we are selling to retailers and food services companies are truly sweet. Some retailers are willing to pay us our price to assure they are buying what they think they are buying – ultimately satisfying their customers… Why wouldn’t all retailers take this approach? We know the answer… To save money! But are they loosing sales (and money) in the long run? Too many retailers are concerned with instant gratification and not long term satisfaction of their customers!!! Processors, manufacturers, growers, and retailers should all be held accountable; but the bottom line is if the consumer is not satisfied, they may take their business elsewhere… can anyone afford to save money now and hope to have their customers business in the future???

MNB ran a story about how the FDA, in the waning days of the Bush administration, published a rule saying that foods made from genetically engineered animals did not need to be labeled as such, which I said did not strike me as a consumer-friendly stance…and I suggested that the FDA’s next step might be to tell manufacturers that they cannot say when their products are not made from GM sources.

One MNB user responded:

I’ve never had a problem with the FDA’s stance on clone labeling because I assumed the market would address the issue. Those with naturally reproduced products would clearly want to say so. If that weren’t allowed, then the FDA is going to see some extreme consumer outrage.

The only reason that the FDA would even think of taking that extreme stance would be the difficulty of administering the lineage of animals. Though I would think it may be near impossible, consumers are going to demand it.

This is the same government, don't forget, that has said that companies cannot test their own animals for mad cow disease and then say that their products are BSE-free.

Wait a minute.

It isn’t the same government. Not as of noon yesterday.

So maybe there will be changes in what is permissible and appropriate.


KC's View: