retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the purchase by CVS of all Schnuck Markets' pharmacies, one MNB reader wrote:

Forty-four years ago Schnuck’s and Walgreens decided to build combo stores together. The locations were in areas where neither chain operated. Operating a new concept that needs good oversight at a distance is always difficult especially when there are two bosses, The partnership was ended in about a half dozen years.

From one MNB reader, on another subject:

Regarding poor service in theaters and the price of concessions … My son-in-law's father has worked for what is now Regal Cinemas for over 28 years. He and I had many discussions about the cost of attending movies and the price of concessions. The one number that he shared was that concessions made up over 65% of the profits for Regal Cinemas. Witness the price of a big tub of popcorn and a large soda, which my wife is in charge of buying when we attend a movie, and you will understand why concessions represent the large percentage of profits for any movie houses profits. Labor costs are quite low as they do not have enough people to handle the busy rush for concessions, thus a long wait is inevitable in really busy movie houses.

MNB reader Matt Hautau chimed in:

With regards to movie theaters competing in a streaming world, here in Albuquerque we have a “Flix Brewhouse” (small chain with 9 locations) that has done a great job of staying competitive. 

First, you can order and pick your seats online, download your ticket into your Apple Wallet and walk right in.  As you walk in, there’s a 100-foot bar with just as many craft brews on tap with a full menu… in case you’re early and want to eat/drink before your show starts.  When you get into the theater, in front of each row of big comfy seats sits a bank of a pull-out trays with your menu.  Your waiter comes by, takes your food and drink order, swipes your card, and you’re enjoying your order in quick order.  Meanwhile, they are showing content on the screen related to the movie you’re seeing – youtube videos, clips from movies, music, etc.  For me, they’ve removed all the pain and replaced it with comfort.  It can be a bit pricey (not exorbitant), but it’s certainly better than waiting in line for a ticket, waiting in line for concessions (while stressing about saving seats).  Simply put – a better mousetrap!

Responding to our story about Hy-Vee moving to a store-pick model for online orders, one MNB reader wrote:

I frequently shop at a Hy-Vee in Dubuque IA, which I believe to be a high volume, always crowded store.  I (and others) have become increasingly annoyed by the number of store employees in the aisles, with their shopping carts and handheld devices, picking orders for online customers.  My mood is already sour as I enter the store taking note of the number of reserved parking spaces for order pickup at the store entrance.  There has to be a better way to do this.

Regarding chef Tom Douglas's decision to do cooking videos that will help people cook at home (since he's now temporarily closed all his Seattle restaurants), MNB reader Bob Wheatley wrote:

Love Tom’s idea to help people with cooking videos. In China an unintended consequence of their ability to massively confine people to their homes has resulted in a landslide of novice home cooks getting over the stove. As they start preparing dishes, popular Chinese social sites have weighed in to become repositories of menu ideas, recipes and cooking hacks. Just posted a story about this because we believe its directional for retailers here to step up and be as you would say, more of a resource than just a source.

On another subject, from MNB reader James Tenser:

Airport shops are the best use case I’ve seen yet for Amazon Go technology. Call it “fly-through” retailing. It’s well suited for transactions with just a few items where speed is desirable. I view the early focus on grocery stores as a red herring – intended to win media attention and work investors into a frenzy. (It worked.) The better goal may be to create demand for the solution among specialty retailers who may actually use it.