retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The other day MNB took note of a New York Times piece about Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a liberal Democrat who represents much of Seattle and who sits on the Judiciary Committee.  Jayapal argues that Amazon "exploits workers and abuses its market power. Those criticisms have become louder during the coronavirus pandemic, which has made the public more dependent on Amazon’s store and put the workers who keep it humming under intense pressure.

"But no other national elected official with Ms. Jayapal’s liberal politics has a district filled with Amazon’s corporate employees, who could be skeptical of her criticism but have become increasingly concerned about the company’s treatment of workers in its supply chain."

Yesterday we had an email from an MNB reader who pointed out that Jayapal enjoys union support, which could explain her attitude.  I responded that this alone isn't enough to make me dismiss her position out of hand.

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

Well there is this, from last Sunday ....  a sitting Seattle city council member, Kshama Sawant,  calling for a militant mass movement to take over corporations like Amazon…

"Yes, corporations like Amazon need to be taken into democratic public ownership, to be run by workers for social good. We will need militant mass movements, strike actions at workplaces, to begin to fight to win this."

And there is a video of Pramilia Jayapal endorsing council member Sawant for re election.

It's not shocking to those of us who live in the Seattle area that Amazon is moving employees outside of the Seattle city limits.

I would not be in favor of nationalizing Amazon, or whatever this person seems to be suggesting.

I do think that it is a big jump from wanting a company to treat its employees better to wanting that company to be nationalized.  I'd be in favor of the first. Not the second.  

MNB reader Carl Jorgensen had a reaction to yesterday's "Essential Voices" piece by Cornell University senior Meredith Lord:

I was so impressed with the guest piece by Meredith Lord! She clearly expressed something that I have been preaching (to little effect) in my work: creating more resilient supply chains to cushion countries and populations against inevitable, and potentially disastrous, food and supply shortages that occur when adverse public health, political or trade events interrupt business as usual. With the COVID-19 situation, the fragility of our supply chains has been exposed, and now is the time to make them more sustainable.

Regarding the possibility that cruise lines will start operating again in late summer, one MNB reader wrote:

Carnival Cruise Lines has a pretty big task on their hands to even get consumers interested in cruising.

A recent study done by the Tampa Bay Partnership measured consumers' own timelines as to when they would resume various activities after the "stay at home" mandates were lifted.  Going back to work was the shortest (19 days).  Cruising had the longest timeline - over 330 days. Activities of interest like going to a professional sporting event (not sure if Brady signing with Bucs moved that timing up or down...) - 107 days. Or, going to a beach: 47 days.

A couple of the Carnival ships are presently sitting in Tampa Port being repainted. Reminds me of the old saying "You can take an onion, paint it red and call it an apple. But, with that first bite, its going to taste like an onion." 

Regardless of what tactics are used, just based on consumer attitude alone, seems like a long before the cruising industry recovers. 

Responding to a piece yesterday in which I admitted I did not know what a certain word meant, one MNB reader wrote:

Kevin,  up until now, I thought you would be a crossword guy.  Apiary is an answer in many of them.

Nope, not a crossword puzzle guy.  Not a jigsaw puzzle guy, either.

My piece about how going to Starbucks was a nice taste of normalcy, one MNB reader wrote:

Starbucks - great to have open.  Even better would be baseball!!!!!

No kidding.

On another subject, one MNB reader wrote:

I think that Financial Times is right about their Disney Parks Indicator. 

However, I think Disney approaches Chapter 11 due to the pandemic.  For all the reasons FT notes, I do not see their theme parks coming back for years on end and their broadcast division is going to be decimated due to reduced advertising across all segments.  Which is turn reduces budget that is required for content production (i.e. TV/Movie Studios).  

Disney has been aggressive to get vertically integrated which is likely their death knell.

As noted above, we'll know when the Shanghai park reopens.  If people don't show up, it is going to be a bad day at Disney HQ.  (Someone may have to talk Mickey off the ledge…)

Responding to Michael Sansolo's column this week, one MNB reader wrote:

On-line shopping may accelerate in specific areas but only in areas where the freedom to roam is limited. Pick-up will be more likely an attractive alternate where we live here in Texas. The less hands that touch the better. However we don’t agree that this will be long term. If the days of the “Farmers market“ “fresh produce”  is gone then it’s a sad day for America... Stores like HEB are working hard to not let that happen.  

And finally, from MNB reader Jeff Gartner:

Hey Kevin, in your blurb about Hertz filing bankruptcy, you use the phrase "fewer people in the driver's seat." Of course, that made me think about their old tv ad "Let Hertz Put You in the Driver's Seat" with the man (and in another version a couple) floating into the car. 

For a companion movie reference, check out this video clip (including the jingle) from Good Neighbor Sam showing how this was done way before our CGI days … 

I remember that ad campaign well.  Which is why used the line.

I also know the movie because is starred Jack Lemmon, Romy Schneider, Dorothy Provine, Edward G. Robinson … and, just a couple of years before starring "Mannix," Mike Connors.  (Who longtime MNB readers know I was a big fan of.)