retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• From the New York Times: "Holiday sales rose 3.4 percent this year over 2018, according to a survey by Mastercard SpendingPulse. Online sales grew much more sharply — 18.8 percent — marking the continuing change in how people shop.

"The increase this year, both over all and online, is smaller than it was in 2018, but the findings will be welcomed by retailers, which depend on year-end splurges to drive their annual sales."

Axios reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has "officially raised the age to buy tobacco in the U.S. from 18 to 21 … the decision comes faster than some expected as the FDA had six months to amend their policies after Trump signed the bill and another 90 days to officially adopt the change. 19 states and the District of Columbia had already put in place laws to raise the minimum buying age for tobacco products — including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes — to 21."

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) said this week that it has "organized a joint retail association letter to the FDA explaining the complexities of the transition for retailers who must retrain employees, update signage, reprogram POS systems and inform customers. In the letter, the organizations asked the agency to clarify that it will not enforce the new federal age until it issues implementing regulations in 2020. The FDA has indicated to NACS that the agency will issue a statement soon on the transition.

I feel bad for the retailers that find themselves staring down the barrel of a law the implementation of which seems precipitous, and I trust that regulators will have a little compassion about enforcing these mandates in the short term.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that the "Food and Drug Administration plans to ban the sale of fruity flavors in cartridge-based e-cigarettes, but the restriction won’t apply to tank vaping systems commonly found at vape shops, according to people familiar with the matter.

"The action is seen as a compromise between Trump administration officials who want to address a rise in teen vaping and those concerned about the impact on small businesses and the possible political fallout for President Trump, these people said. Polls commissioned by the vaping industry have shown an outright ban would be unpopular in key states for the 2020 election.

"Federal officials are expected to announce the new plan as soon as Friday."

No sympathy here for the manufacturers of this poison, which, to my way of thinking, cannot be pulled off the market fast enough.
KC's View: