business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Howard Carr:

After getting to watch your discussion with Tom Furphy and the issues surrounding  investment into future formats for delivery of the goods to the consumer, it became apparent to me that a move we will most likely see will be a format to reward those customers that most often patronize that retailer.  Since this is very prevalent in the grocery business with special pricing and rewards for member/card holder shoppers, I can foresee retailers providing special access for high demand products (toilet paper, et. al.) to those with membership and high levels of patronization, in their programs.  It would certainly provide a boost to their customer registration efforts and assist in garnering shopper data moving forward.  The programs already provide the data on the product preferences of this customer base, but this would provide them with a “leg up” on gaining customer loyalty into the future.

It would be, if I understand your point, a way of proving to consumers that the retailer is loyal to them, as opposed to just bribing them with coupons.

I agree.  In fact, I always have.

Responding to my comments about civil unrest could follow the pandemic, one MNB reader wrote:

Interesting thoughts.  A person I know has a grocery outlet and said they were not implementing the senior shopping hours because there was no way to enforce it (can’t ask for ID or they could be considered discriminatory) and as a result there was customer shaming happening and they were worried about safety. 

Another thought- now they are banning some stores from selling “non essential” items (like electronics at Costco) because they have an “unfair advantage” in the market.  Riddle me this- when we receive our stimulus money- where are we supposed to stimulate the economy if we can only buy essentials?  Isn’t this giving online businesses the ONLY advantage because that’s the only option if your TV self destructs or your computer gets the blue screen of death.  Another badly thought out idea coming from legislators.

MNB reader Chris Breen had a thought about the coronavirus numbers:

I check your email everyday and read the Covid 19 updates.

I put the numbers in a spreadsheet. For that last 10 days the world recovery rate is always 21% of confirmed cases. Interesting how consistent that number is.

Is it good or bad?  Not sure.  We're not making progress, but we're not backsliding.

And, from MNB reader Jesse Sowell:

Hi Kevin - love the dialogue with readers that was created by your story suggesting the requiring of masks to enter grocery stores.

On the point that many readers made about the lack of availability of masks to purchase, and how to define acceptable masks, I get that these can be hard questions to answer. But I wonder if we could make them simpler. Could the definition of an acceptable mask just be any fabric covering the nose and mouth? And for availability, here's a great short video explaining how to make a non-sew mask from an old t-shirt (I can certify the simplicity - I did it myself).

Keep up the great work.


I commented the other day that the oddsmakers in Vegas won't just be taking bets on who might win all the various sporting events that have bene postponed, but also will be entertaining wagers on whether they'll actually take place.

Prompting MNB reader Mark A. Boyer to write:

With sports on hiatus, people are looking for things on which to wager.

Whatever number you set, I’m taking the Over.

Good decision.

And one more thing, because you requested it: