retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• Kroger this morning said that its Q2 total sales rose 1 percent to $27.87 billion, on same-store sales that - excluding fuel - were up 1.6 percent. Q2 net income was up 44 percent to $508 million.

• The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that Kroger “is among the biggest employers of workers on food stamps in Ohio and at least three other states. That’s one of the findings of a study by industry trade publication the New Food Economy on employers of people whose wages are low enough that they participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is commonly referred to as food stamps.”

Kroger, the story says, “ranked third in Ohio, behind only Walmart and McDonald’s, according to the study. Those two behemoths ranked 1-2 in four of the other five states New Food Economy studied: Arizona, Kansas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. Kroger affiliates ranked third in Arizona, where its Fry’s stores have a large presence, and Kansas, where its Dillons stores have a sizable market share. Kroger’s Fred Meyer stores ranked fourth in Washington state behind the top two and Safeway, another large grocery store operator.”

Bloomberg reports that Starbucks is throwing in with UberEats “to test delivery in more than 100 locations in the Miami area.”

Starbucks tested delivery with Postmates as its delivery arm several years ago, and has “dabbled” with various approaches over the years, but nothing has gained enough traction to get any sort of rollout.

• Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division announced that more than 3,200 associates working at 22 Kroger stores in its Richmond and Hampton Roads market have ratified a new labor agreement with The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 400.

The agreement “raises starting wages to $9.50 an hour for part-time associates and $10 an hour for full-time associates. After one-year of service, wages move to $10 an hour for part-time and $11 an hour for full-time. This is in addition to overall wage rate increases, high-quality, affordable health care benefits and contributions to a pension fund to support associates in retirement.”

• Add another big name to the list of people and companies investing in the cannabis business: Adolphus A. Busch V, great-great-grandson of the late founder of Anheuser Busch, announced the launch of an eponymous cannabis brand, ABV Cannabis Company.

According to the announcement, “Busch has created a brand that provides clean, consistent, quality and affordable cannabis products that appeal to consumers from every walk of life. The company launches with a line of disposable vaporizer pens, crafted with the highest quality components available and filled with CO2 extracted cannabis oil derived from environment-friendly, greenhouse grown cannabis. Each is complete with natural, strain-specific terpenes added to the oil at specific ratios for stronger flavor and effects. These products will be followed shortly with ABV cannabis flower products, as well as other form factors, all created with sustainable practices in a fully compliant facility in the heart of the Colorado Rockies.”

I remain ambivalent about this segment, to be honest … and very concerned about the vaping side of the business, which strikes me as being as potentially problematic as the tobacco and e-cigarette business. One advantage of a change in federal laws about marijuana would be the FDA’s ability to regulate it more stringently.
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