retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday's story about Amazon planning to open as many as 400 stores around the country - which now has been walked back by the person who originally said it - one MNB user wrote:

I wonder if they will buy a bunch of Radio Shacks and turn them into bookstores? These locations could also be a pick up location for Prime members who want a better price...and a drop off point for cardboard boxes, which today are going into the recycle bin or the family trash can.

This may sound good at first, but I believe that picking up so many units from a failing retailer would put an anchor around Amazon's neck ... and this is a company that resists such legacy issues.

MNB yesterday took note of a Bloomberg report that Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said this week that the Walton family is the nation's biggest welfare abuser because it "doesn’t pay its employees a 'living wage,' forcing many workers to turn to food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing funded by taxpayers." Sanders also said the Waltons exemplify a "rigged economy," and that it is "unacceptable that Walton family has more wealth than bottom 40% of Americans."

MNB reader Kelly Dean Wiseman responded:

I think you might be missing a key point that Sanders is making: the system should not allow such a vast accumulation of wealth at the expense of taxpayers. And this is the case with the Walton family: we have subsidized their paltry wages with Medicaid and SNAP and other programs. I’m not into demonizing either. But I don’t agree with giving a pass for such uninhibited greed on the part of an employer again, at taxpayer expense, just because we are scared of causing some kind of “class warfare”.

Come to think of it, maybe we need a new term for rich families and executives who underpay their workers and drain the public support system: class welfare.

From another reader:

Remarks like that are just plain wrong! As my father use to say..."this country is going to hell in a hand-basket."

I'm not a big fan of Walmart but they represent the American Dream and what you can do in a free capitalistic society. Unfortunately, there are people that take advantage and there are those that just don't get it!

And another:

Unfortunately, Mr. Sanders is pandering. His unrealistic Socialist view of the world is, at best, myopic.

Walmart is paying $10.00 to start and benefits (to the best of my knowledge). For someone directly out of High School, with limited work skills - it seems like a good start. They are giving recent Vets, priority over all others, and paying in line with experience.

We all agree that nothing is perfect. However, should our society move to $15.00 per hour for this type an entry level position ... we are in financial trouble. Prices will rise and there will be more unemployment in the service and retail sectors.

Continuing with this thought ... as wages and prices rise, Customer Service will disappear (many say it is dead already). We may all end up cleaning our clothes in a stream, with a rock (we won't be able to afford Tide). And ... There won't be any retailers left in which to purchase it.

First of all, your email makes me feel like Claude Rains. I'm shocked ... shocked ... to find out that there are politicians running for office out there who are pandering to voters. (Actually, there is a pretty good argument that since "pandering" implies inconsistency for the sake of getting people to vote for you, Sanders may be the only person in the presidential race on either side who can't be accused of pandering. He's being consistently Socialist ... like it or not.)

I also have to say that I think your suggestion that a $15/hour minimum wage will result in Americans washing their clothes in streams is a little alarmist. There's also the possibility that a higher paid employee base will result in more productive stores that have higher sales ... even of Tide.

Finally, regarding what looks like a coming battle between Wegmans and Publix as they move south and north, one MNB user wrote:

I live in Florida so there are Publix stores everywhere — and I almost never shop in any of them. Yes, they are clean, well lit and staffed by friendly associates who go out of their way to help. The problem is, IMO, that the offering is mundane and uninteresting. I stopped regularly shopping there years ago when virtually all of the produce was pre-packed and I had to ask someone to divide a package so that I could buy the amount I wanted. Most of their produce is bulk now but they lost me to The Boys — a local independent that I travel 20-miles round trip for almost every week! For fill-ins I opt for the close-by Whole Foods and The Fresh Market. I’m not at all impressed with Publix meats and poultry.

Publix prepared foods would’t stand a chance if Wegmans were in the area, If these two go head-to-head anywhere, I can’t imagine Wegmans not being victorious…

KC's View: