retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Orlando Sentinel reports that employee-owned, privately held "Publix Supermarkets rang up a company record $2.03 billion in profits in 2016 and $34 billion in sales, though it noted that "record profits were partially because of a 53-week calendar year."

The retailer also said that same-store sales "increased 1.9 percent in 2016, compared to a 4.2 percent growth rate reported a year ago."

• The Boston Globe reports that Amazon has opened its first east coast Amazon Books store, in Dedham, Massachusetts - a 5,800 square foot store that offers a book selection based on the best-sellers on Amazon's website as well as proprietary technology such as Kindle ebook readers, Fire TV streaming devices, and Echo speakers.

The story notes that the store "joins locations in Amazon’s home base of Seattle and in San Diego. Another local store is being planned for Lynnfield’s MarketStreet mall later this year, while locations are being considered in other US cities."

Dedham is about 20 miles southwest of downtown Boston, while Lynnfield is about 17 miles north of the city.

• The Associated Press writes that "three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat, federal officials have announced.

"The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last week gives Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company permission to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall. The company said the potatoes contain only potato genes, and that the resistance to late blight, the disease that caused the Irish potato famine, comes from an Argentine variety of potato that naturally produced a defense. The three varieties are the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic. They’ve previously been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture."
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