retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

Bloomberg reports that James P. Murphy, Costco's international executive vice president, said this week that his company is looking at the possibility of opening stores in continental Europe.

“We are interested in investing in the obvious four -- Germany, Italy, France and Spain,” Murphy said in an interview. Turkey also is on the list of possible targets for Costco.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Coca-Cola has made a deal with Chicago-based Fair Oaks Farms Brands to distribute Core Power, described as "a post-workout recovery drink made with milk protein and sweetened with honey. The lactose-free product, sold in chocolate, vanilla, honey and strawberry banana flavors, is marketed to endurance athletes, weight lifters and yoga and pilates enthusiasts, and sells for $2.99 to $3.20."

It sounds like a good deal for Fair Oaks. Coke has promised that it will get the 18-month-=old product, currently available in up to 700 stores in Texas and Colorado, into 10,000 stores by the end of the year.

Reuters reports that Mike Mikan, the interim CEO at troubled Best Buy, "promised on Thursday to tackle the unwieldy size of the world's largest consumer electronics chain, just months after investors gave a thumbs-down to its restructuring efforts ... Mikan also said the retailer would try to end the practice of 'showrooming,' which has caused it to lose sales to online retailers."

If it wants customers not to be looking at their smartphones checking for prices, then Best Buy has to give them an alternative - a store environment that transcends the online experience, with products and services that meet needs and desires and that create a sense of magic and possibility for the shopper.

I guess the other way to stop 'showrooming' is to develop a way to block all smartphone signals from getting into Best Buy stores. But while that does not strike me as a sustainable policy, don't be surprised if it is the short-term solution chosen by Best Buy.

• Just in time for summer, there appears to be a national shortage of Good Humor’s classic ice cream bars.

According to the Associated Press, parent company Unilever says that "a sales spike during the unusually warm spring and challenges linked to next month’s closing of its Hagerstown manufacturing plant" has crimped its ability "to supply ice cream trucks with Toasted Almond, Candy Center Crunch and Chocolate Eclair bars."

It is expected that availability will increase just in time for autumn.

Timing is everything. See the Friday Morning Eye-Opener.
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