retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois plans to institute a program next year that will allow food stamp users there "to buy their groceries online through a two-year federal pilot program intended to increase food access for the poor ... The test run, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, is intended to help the U.S. Department of Agriculture work out the kinks before making online purchasing a permanent option. To help accomplish this complex goal, USDA officials are expected to announce Thursday a request for online grocery retailers to participate in the program. Up to five retailers in as many as three states will be chosen; the program is expected to begin next summer."

An online option is said to be aimed in part at helping people who live in so-called food deserts, where there is a lack of available grocery shopping.


• The Washington Post reports that has part of a broader effort to improve its image, Target plans to adjust its merchandising so that low prices are more simply advertised and obvious to consumers, especially on end caps.

"It’s a fairly subtle change," the Post writes, "but it is symbolic of an important goal for Target. The retailer believes its sales have struggled lately in part because it has failed to emphasize strongly enough that it is a destination for value and low prices. The redesigned end caps are just one strategy for trumpeting that message; Target has also changed up its circulars to put a spotlight on low-priced household essentials."
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