retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• The New York Times reports on the move toward digital price tags in supermarkets, which will allow retailers to "go completely paperless by putting small, battery-powered digital price tags on the shelves. Price changes can then be received wirelessly from the store’s network, ensuring that the price displayed on the shelf and the one called up at the checkout counter are the same."

Digital price tags may actually allow retailers to do something potentially more important than maintain pricing integrity between the shelf and the checkout lane. They will allow retailers to engage dynamic pricing, able to change prices with close to the same facility that Amazon and other online retailers do. One can even imagine that such tags would display one price for "regular" shoppers, and a lower price for "best shoppers" who have earned it, and who have chips in their smart phones (or smart watches or other form of wearable technology) that identify them to the digital price tag system.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that "twenty-one U.S. companies have reduced salt content in pre-packaged or restaurant foods as part of an effort led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to slash the amount of sodium in the national diet.

"The National Salt Reduction Initiative, a partnership of more than 90 city and state health authorities and organizations launched in 2008, is trying to cut sodium by 25% in packaged and restaurant foods by 2014. The goal is to reduce national sodium intake 20% by then. The effort has led 24 companies that distribute food nationwide to pledge to reduce the sodium in some of their products."

Food Safety News reports that the Obama administration is warning that "if Congress allows the sequester to kick in on March 1, cuts to food safety would be one of the 'most damaging' consequences of the automatic budget reductions ... The analysis by the Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could conduct 2,100 fewer inspections at domestic and foreign food facilities and the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service could have to furlough all employees for approximately two weeks to meet the across the board budget cuts."

Count your horses. Heaven knows what'll be in our spaghetti sauce if the sequester happens.

• The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that "Starbucks Canada says it will undergo the largest expansion this year in the company’s 26-year history, with plans to open more than 150 stores across the country ... With more than 1,200 locations, Canada is Starbucks’ biggest international market."
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