retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of Thanksgiving store openings, MNB reader Neil G. Reay wrote:

Just a thought on the issues of store openings on Thanksgiving and extended holiday store hours: I never seem to see an announcement about stores opening on the holiday that includes a statement that the C-level executives, EVPs SVPs, VPs and AVPs will all be in the stores alongside the employees helping to provide the customer experience. Good enough to tell the minions to open the stores while the execs enjoy turkey and time off. After all, don’t they deserve it for their “brilliant” merchandising decisions? If it is important enough for the store to open on a holiday, it is important enough to have the execs there to help optimize the experience and to meet and talk with actual employees and customers.


MNB reader Ben Loy chimed in:

Some Retailers Decide To Make A Virtue Out Of Being Closed On Thanksgiving … well it is a virtue and I will vote with my money to support the companies that choose to allow their employees to enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday without having to worry about going to work. I may shop the on-line sites for these companies if I need/want to shop but I am glad to see that these companies have the courage to say No, to shopping on this holiday.

Ah, but you've just put your finger on the reason people stay open on Thanksgiving - to compete with online stores that are open anyway.

I'd rather see stores closed, too, but I'm not sure I'd cast it as a matter of virtue vs. vice. That strikes me as counter-productive.

On the subject of Price Chopper converting its stores to the Market 32 concept, one MNB reader wrote:

When I first read this report on Price Chopper I thought sure that it was drafted to be sent out on April 1st.  Then I was shocked to find out it was real.  I hope whoever thought this was a good idea has a strong resume.

Another reader thought I've been inconsistent in my analysis:

You really can't have it both ways; either labor is a cost, as you asserted when defending the Golubs, or it's an investment that compassionate leaders, such as Arthur T. DeMoulas recognize.

The evidence as to which is more successful is fairly obvious.

I'm not sure I'm trying to have it both ways, nor that I've been inconsistent … though I get your point.

I think compassionate servant-leaders can treat employees as if they are an investment and still, if circumstances require it, engage in layoffs if that's what required to keep the company viable. It doesn't help to avoid layoffs if it puts the entire company and all of its employees at risk.

On another subject, MNB reader Joe Davis wrote:

I’m sure the quote “We’re not retreating; we are advancing in another direction” is uttered more than a few times at Amazon, and should serve as a warning more than a naïve jeer for competitors and suppliers alike.  If I were in a position where I felt like I was competing with Amazon rather than utilizing them, I would not breathe a sigh of relief each time I perceived them to stumble or fall short of a goal.  I suspect it is not perceived that way internally and, what’s worse, I should actually be more concerned about what Amazon learned in the process and will act on very soon.   
The more I read on this, the more it looms large in my mind the need for companies to realize that Amazon is not a retailer.  It will not compete like a retailer.  It is a platform, a network, a tool for removing or at least significantly reducing the gap between Want and Have – that gap is Amazon’s entire focus.  One-click ordering, same-day shipping, near limitless assortment, product reviews, intelligent recommendations, easy returns, etc.  It all chips away at any barriers in place that prevent the moment of sale from occurring and thus minimizing/eliminating the gap. 
The focus for retailers has to be on their shoppers’ wanting and having in ways Amazon cannot – experiences and/or products and services that are differentiated and non-transferrable.

I totally agree.
KC's View: