retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

Advertising Age reports that at McDonald's shareholder meeting last week, a proposal was made that would have had the fast feeder's board of directors "issue a report, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, within six months of the 2012 annual meeting, assessing the company's policy responses to growing evidence of linkages between fast food and childhood obesity, diet-related diseases and other impacts on children's health."

The proposal was overwhelmingly rejected, with less than seven percent of its shareholders voting in favor of it.

In opposing the initiative, the company said: "We offer a variety of food choices to our customers; provide nutrition information about our menu items in a variety of accessible ways so that families can make informed decisions; communicate with children in a responsible manner through age appropriate marketing and promotional activities; and encourage children and families to live balanced, active lifestyles."

So there.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Costco members now can get mortgages from the retailer's website through "an online mortgage platform developed by First Choice Bank that is being offered as a perk to Costco's more than 65 million members ... When a member goes to the mortgage site, the user can put in the required personal data and information about the loan sought, and the system will generate a list of lenders that are licensed in the person's state and details about the loan offered. Members can then check off which lenders they want to receive their loan request. No personal data is transmitted to the lenders without the member's permission ... Consumers who aren't Costco members may qualify for the same sort of mortgage rates, but they wouldn't be able to receive the discounted lender fees that are offered to members."

Costco sells wedding dresses and caskets. Why not mortgages? It's all part of the same circle of life...

USA Today reports that ice cream marketers are turning to new concoctions this summer - from "sushi" ice cream cupcakes to ice cream "pizza" to an ice cream "Brrrger" - as a way of breathing life into the category at a time when the economy seems to be improving and people may have a bit more money to indulge themselves.

However, the story notes, while people may be intrigued with ice cream innovations, most people end up buying vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.

When I was first dating Mrs. Content Guy, we went out for ice cream and she made the observation that I'd probably order vanilla because I was that kind of guy. One of the meanest things that she - or anybody else for that matter - has ever said about me. Not sure why I'm sharing that, except that I want to make clear that I, for one, would be willing to try sushi ice cream cupcakes.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Groupon "has begun testing a mobile credit card reader, encroaching on a domain innovated by Square that PayPal has also recently entered.

"The Groupon payment platform will charge a 1.8% transaction fee along with a 15-cent transaction charge. At that rate, the fee is less than Square's 2.75% or the 2.7% charged by PayPal Here and Verifone SAIL, another player in the market ... Groupon is giving the card readers away free to merchants along with an iPod Touch, according to VentureBeat That's more than Groupon's competitors, which just hand out readers."
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