retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• The Washington Post reports that Americans seem willing "to gobble up caffeine in all kinds of foods ... Energy-boosting foods racked up more than $1.6 billion in domestic retail sales last year, up nearly 50 percent from five years ago, according to the market research firm Euromonitor International."

But while manufacturers are rushing to "cash in" on what they see as frenetic consumer lives and a growing caffeine addiction, the enthusiasm also has meant government attention: "The Food and Drug Administration threw a wet blanket on the caffeine-laced food craze recently when it asked foodmakers to take a timeout . Concerned about the potential health effects on children, as well as Americans’ cumulative caffeine intake, officials said they want to investigate whether new rules are needed to govern caffeine in foods ... What the FDA might do to revamp its oversight of caffeinated foods remains unclear, and it probably will take months or even years before it settles on any new rules. More detailed labeling requirements for caffeine in foods seem likely, and the agency eventually could decree that some products should not contain caffeine."

• The Associated Press reports that Starbucks has issued a dictum that affects all its US units, where the lease permits - no smoking within 25 of its stores.

The company says that the intent is simply to extend the no smoking policy inside its stores to outside seating areas, though the rule will also affect stores without such outdoor seating.

I think this is great. Nothing worse than wanting to enjoy a cup of coffee at an outdoor Starbucks seating area and finding it littered with the smelly detritus of poor, tobacco-addicted souls.

• The Detroit Free Press reports that while a new Whole Foods scheduled to open this week in Detroit may be getting all the press attention, Meijer is opening a new 190,000 square foot supercenter there in July, its first inside the city limits. And, "the popular suburban grocery Papa Joe’s will open a full-service market next year in the first-floor space in the First National Building."

Bloomberg reports that Seven & I Holdings, which has more than 8,000 7-Eleven stores in North America, says that it plans to more than double its store count there, to as many as 20,000 or 30,000 c-stores.

According to the story, "Seven & I, the world’s biggest convenience store operator by number of outlets, has been buying small chain stores in the U.S. as it tries to strengthen the competitiveness of the local unit. Strength in consumer spending and business investment is helping the U.S. economy overcome government cutbacks, underlining forecasts for a growth pickup later in the year."
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