retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we posted an email from an MNB reader that read:

Probably apropos of nothing, but I thought it strange to see a Kroger TV commercial for their Simple Truth brand of products, considering I live in NH.  It was Sunday night during the Grammy's.  Unusual, no?

I responded:

It was a national buy, I’m sure.

On the other hand, now that people will be able to buy Kroger products online and pick them up and a local Walgreen store, it may be that Kroger is starting to play the awareness game … believing that it may be able to generate market share even in places where it has no physical stores.

I’d certainly be testing that premise if I were at Kroger. Then again, I’m not nearly as smart as Rodney McMullen and his folks.

Which prompted yet another MNB reader to write:

I would love to see Kroger have a physical presence in New England, I just don't see who they could buy that would have enough scale - unless Albertsons would unload Shaw’s?

Hey I can wish, right?

Gee, I wonder where he works.

Responding to Walmart’s Q4 numbers, one MNB reader wrote:

Not a big Walmart fan, but I have to give props to Doug McMillon.  He's really turned the company around, making them a very nimble company considering how large it is.

MNB reader Clay Dockery had some thoughts about a study we posted yesterday regarding a study suggesting that “last year’s $300 billion business tax break, which was ‘pitched as a way to boost hiring and wages,’ instead only had ‘a modest effect on employment, no effect on wages and probably has accelerated the rate at which companies are able to replace workers with machines’.”

The study referenced by Duke University and Grinnell College seems to have an Incomplete grade.  If they are going to gauge the impact of technology replacing workers, shouldn’t they also evaluate how many people work to bring that technology to life and to maintain / service it?  After all someone has to build the product, someone has to install the product and someone has to be available for service calls and replacement parts.  To only look at the industry being adversely effected by the change is to presume the worst possible outcome.  I’m sure that the carriage manufacturers were in real trouble at the dawn of the automobile industry, but I don’t think history suggests that we should have looked at the carriage manufacturer job losses in a vacuum!

We also took note yesterday of a Washington Post story looking at a study from the Institute for Self-Reliance, a nonprofit advocacy group, arguing that dollar stores - which have “gained attention as success stories in the country’s most economically distressed places” - in fact are more hurtful than helpful when it comes to helping residents deal with poverty … The response to this sense is that some cities - like Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Mesquite, Texas - are developing legislation that will prevent or inhibit the expansion of these kinds of stores in specific neighborhoods, with a greater emphasis on finding ways to attract grocery stores that will sell fresh, healthier food.

One MNB reader wrote:

Being an older person, I find it amusing, that cities want to stop "Dollar" stores.

It used to be, if you find a need, fill it and your store will be profitable. Now, the cities wish to say the hell with our people, we don't care about there needs.

I get your point … but I just think they are defining needs differently.

Finally, a note from MNB reader Gregory Grudzinski, responding to a piece we posted yesterday from New York Times columnist Kara Swisher about the Amazon HQ2 fiasco in NYC:

I happened to be a fan of KS and saw her piece in the New York Times yesterday, that I too thought was a must read.

There was another op-ed piece in the Times, entitled "NY Returns 25,000 Jobs to Amazon", which included the following paragraph - which was so witty I thought for a moment I was reading MNB:

“We have the best talent in the world, and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone,” the mayor said. “If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”

Because, you know, Amazon’s competitors have a great track record of seeing the future more clearly than Jeff Bezos.

KC's View: