retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding the acquisition of Ukrop’s by Ahold, MNB user Glenn Cantor wrote:

The $140 Million sale price seems undervalued.  You can bet that Ahold USA will strive to implement efficiencies into Ukrop’s go-to-market processes because it enables Ahold to better align the new acquisition with the rest of the company.  Otherwise, it is not a valuable, strategic acquisition.  Hopefully, they learn from their acquisition of Clemens Markets in Philadelphia.

MNB user Dan Jones wrote:

I have had the privilege of working with the Giant Carlisle team for a couple years.  I find the team to be capable, innovative, and very focused on the consumer.  Will there be some issues as the organizations come together?  Of course.  But I think this a great outcome for Ukrop’s – the philosophy of these two teams seems very aligned to me.

MNB user Chris Dean wrote us from Australia:

Having taken a group of Australian retailers on a tour of the USA’S preeminent retailers, Ukrop’s was on the top of our list to visit.

It was not just the groceries but the way they viewed their community that made them special, the integration of products and ideas over time using customer feedback as the key. Also having Joe’s Market as a training ground for staff was unique.

To be able to sit outside the norm and close on Sundays and not sell liquor meant they had to optimize their opening hours and capture their customers hearts.

To the Ukrop family and their staff a big thank you for being a leader not a follower.

We had a story on friday about how the UK Payments Council ruled that the use of written checks will be phased out there, with checks no longer being accepted in the UK as of November 1, 2018. The reason: so many people are using debit and credit cards, and shopping online, that checks have been deemed to be on the road to obsolescence.

Opponents of the decision say that it is better for big banks and big retailers than for small banks and independent retailers, not to mention charities and schools; the elderly, who may not trust debit and cards, also are seen as being disadvantaged by the initiative. Furthermore, since banks in the UK have gone through a bailout similar to the one in the US, it is argued that they are taking an anti-consumer position at the precise moment when they should be grateful to the public sector for getting them through a difficult period.

Backers of the move, however, say that it simply formalizes something that was happening anyway.

In my commentary, I wrote:

Hand in hand with this decision, banks also ought to be simplifying their rates and fees, making them more transparent and, quite frankly, lower. That way, the savings that are seen by going to a completely electronic system are actually seen by consumers, and not just in the dividends earned by shareholders and the bonuses awarded to fat cat senior executives.

On the face of it, though, I have no problem with this change, especially because it is nine years out - it isn’t like people are being forced to adjust their habits overnight. And I wouldn’t worry so much about the elderly...because nine years from now, some of the people who would hate the change may not be around anymore, and the “elderly” demographic will made up of people who are more used to the use of cards rather than checks.

There is a word for this kind of shift. It’s called “change.”

Resistance is futile.

One MNB user disagreed:

It is definitely NOT a good thing for consumers. Checks give “us consumers” the hard paper evidence of a transaction. Without that the consumer really has nothing to show as evidence.

As it stands now in this country, banks are doing all they can to NOT send customers their cancelled checks and instead, want us to rely on a printed statement. That’s works as long at there aren’t any problems with your account...but without the hard paper evidence, I for one am not sure I couldn’t easily overlook a problem.

Another MNB user thought I was a little callous in my analysis:

Normally you state opinions that are controversial or unpopular, in a way that is logical and respectful.  But “… nine years from now.. … will not be around...” sounds remarkably harsh and simply out of character.  Surely you know people in their 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and older and understand their abilities vary. Similarly, I know you understand many people are not wealthy enough to own a computer, do not have the ability to transact business on line. While not at the forefront, not all people have the education, energy, physical stamina or luxury to make changes like ceasing using checks that are simple for you (and me).

As far as concerns about road blocks to giving, at my little Lutheran church here in MN, it is those who are 80 and above who give – almost exclusively check form, despite entreaties to consider electronic giving- a vastly disproportionate amount of the church’s donations.  I suspect charities may have similarly interesting statistics.

Quick- revise your comments to have a bit more heart and empathy.  Remember how you were 18 only yesterday?  Too soon you and I will be 80, and we will appreciate society cutting us some slack.

I certainly didn’t mean to be callous. But on the other hand, since I almost never write checks now, it is hard to imagine that I’ll be writing more of them in 10, 15 or 25 years.

Certainly there have to be safety measures built into the system, and I think that there has to be compassion for people with long-held habits.

On the other hand, we can’t let such habits impede progress like this that could make people and institutions both more efficient and effective.

That’s what MNB user Ben Gochnauer thought:

I agree with your view. Putting the date 9 years out seems like abundant time for adaptation. I think I've written one check personally in the past year. We pay the vast majority of our bills through online banking anymore and will likely carry those habits into our senior years.

Will be interesting to see how this moves forward.

Finally, on another subject, MNB user Ken Wagar hoisted me on my own petard:

I, too, am sorry to see the Orient Express shutting down but in the words of a wise man:   There is a word for this kind of shift. It’s called “change.” “Resistance is futile.”


But while accepting change as inevitable, it doesn’t mean that I cannot mourn.
KC's View: