retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We took note yesterday of a Politico report that Walmart plans to roll out the red carpet for the Democratic National Convention when it is held in Charlotte, North Carolina, this summer - and will give the host committee $50,000 in gift cards. According to the story, “the gift cards are considered an in-kind contribution, so they do not violate the strict Democratic National Committee rules which bar corporate cash donations ...”

I commented: Only in the world of American politics would $50,000 in gift cards somehow be seen as more appropriate and acceptable than a check or cash.

MNB user Mike Franklin responded:

I’m confused…I always thought that In-kind donations are those donations that are done in goods and services rather than money (or cash).

According to Wiki…"Cash and cash equivalents", when used in the contexts of payments and payments transactions refer to currency, coins, money orders, paper checks, and stored value products such as gift certificates and gift cards.

Question: How many days before a DNC retraction on accepting the gift cards…I say by Friday.


But nothing ever surprises me in politics anymore.

On another subject, MNB user Jarrett Paschel wrote:

Philip Clarke's quote regarding the decision to extend the timetable for Fresh and Easy's profitability yet again "I was quite prepared to think it wouldn’t work, but I’m not in that place now ... We’ll be able to push it over the line.” reminds me of William H Macy's character in Fargo. Faced with every indication of outright failure and incompetency, along with similar indications of impending doom, he responds with that midwestern version of "Aw shucks...golly gee willikers, ...It's all going to work out in the end...You betcha..."

Figured you'd appreciate the movie analogy.


MNB user Jorge Quirino had some thoughts about another story:

Interesting piece on the Nielsen report but I think with time marketers will begin to understand the only thing the "Hispanic Market" has in common is the fact that they all fall under the definition of Hispanic, Latino, etc.

Behavior is all over the place.

I'm as "Hispanic" as the next guy but my guess is my behavior is more closely aligned to the General Market and I can say the same for a huge percentage of my Hispanic friends.

Eventually the light will click on and businesses will begin to target people by behavior versus ethnicity.


MNB user Dave Parker addressed the postal service situation:

The postal service “crisis” isn’t a union issue at all. In 1970, to end the political outcry every time the price of a stamp went up, Congress created the USPS out of the Postal Department. Now that it was self-supporting, the USPS increased speed of delivery while the cost of the stamp went up less than inflation from 1970 to 2006. USPS also covered 100% of its health care and retirement costs from 1970 to 2006. But in 2006 a lame duck Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which mandated that the USPS prefund 100% its retirement health care obligations for 75 years, and do it in a ten year period. Annual cost of this prefunding? About 6 billion dollars a year for a government service agency making 70 billion with no profit margin.

The USPS was not designed to make a profit (that would amount to a tax on stamps), so of course it is now hopelessly in debt. Why did Congress do this? Well informed observers of the situation say it’s part of the war on the working class. It’s a case of union busting by imposing an artificial crisis. The USPS has set aside enough of the prefunding to date that, assuming normal interest rates, there is already enough to take care of obligations for 75 years. We the people own the USPS. The Congress we elected needs to restore this service to normalcy by lifting the ridiculous and destructive PAEA requirement now.

This may be too much, but it’s a story that needs to be told before the USPS is really lost. Your readers can simply Google “USPS mandate to prefund retirement health care” and read the piece titled “Post office in crisis.”

Regarding an incipient price war taking place among grocers in Southern California, I wrote that the drive to the bottom on prices isn’t a good thing, and nobody wins such battles.

One MNB user disagreed:

What do you mean there can be no winner in a price war? The winner gets the sale, the loser doesn’t. It’s always been that way. So instead of saying no winner, you ought to say one winner…of the fight. The winner of the war, in fact, is the enterprise that can keep customers and steadily move them up the profitability ladder and getting them to see the value, which happens by the way, to be Costco’s greatest strength.

From another reader:

Price wars always favor efficient (low cost)  operators but the real problem is that consumers ultimately suffer as services go away.  Bit of a catch 22, frankly.

And, from yet another MNB user:

And the winner is …  Winco!   History repeats itself while opening the door to the Chains losing more customers to Trader Joe’s, Stater Bros., and Winco, who will be happy to add more stores.
KC's View: