retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

Bloomberg reports that Amazon has “won the last approval it was seeking for an incentive plan that helped lure the largest online retailer to Northern Virginia.

“The five-member Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously approved $23 million in incentives for the company to build a headquarters in the Crystal City neighborhood, just outside Washington, D.C. -- after six-and-a-half hours of testimony, protests and discussions by more than 100 people who argued for and against the deal.”

The story notes that the protests were not on the same scale as in New York City, where they were loud and strong enough, objecting to a proposed $3 billion in tax incentives, that Amazon changed its mind and decided not to bring its HQ2 campus to the Big Apple.

Is it me, or does $23 million in tax incentives seem like pocket change compared to $3 billion in tax incentives?


• It was reported on Friday that Kroger and robotics company Nuro will expand their autonomous vehicle delivery test to two stores in Houston, Texas, after having started a test last August in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Now, USA Today reports that the Houston move is not so much an expansion as a switch in venues, since Kroger and Nuro will be ending the Scottsdale test, switching customers who were getting deliveries via autonomous vehicle to more traditional deliveries by actual human beings.


CNBC reports that “Amazon is testing a new way to bolster its relationship with start-ups and possibly bring in more capital to the ecosystem. The fledgling effort, known as the Amazon Web Services Pro-Rata Program, is designed to link private investors with companies that use AWS, as well as venture funds whose portfolios are filled with potential cloud customers. “ The story says that Amazon is targeting “specific companies and funds raising capital, and inviting investors who otherwise wouldn't have access to the deals to get a piece of the action.”

The story notes that “AWS has built a $25 billion enterprise tech behemoth by luring big companies and government agencies onto its cloud, and it now accounts for the bulk of Amazon's profit. Ever since getting off the ground over a decade ago by providing computing and storage services for start-ups, AWS has counted on young and emerging companies for a big part of its success. Start-ups bring innovation to the platform and some, like Lyft, Pinterest and Slack, grow up to be large enterprises with hefty technology budgets.”
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