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    Published on: June 8, 2020

    A number of retailers have staked out public positions as communities around the country have experienced anti-racism protests keyed to the Black Lives Matter movement, which are a direct outgrowth of the murder two weeks ago today of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer that was caught on video.

    Some examples:

    •  From the San Antonio Express News:

    "H-E-B said it is standing with the black community and launched a $1 million fund to address racial issues in their communities, the company said in a statement Tuesday night.

    "The Texas grocery chain's statement includes a video message from H-E-B President Craig Boyan, addressing the issues amplified by George Floyd's death."

    "We stand together with the Black community against the divisive nature of racism, intolerance,  discrimination and hate," Boyan says in the video. "As a company, a state and a nation, we are better when we respect each other and work to help each other."

    In a separate social media statement, H-E-B said, "We must all take a stand against what happened to George Floyd - and the tragic deaths of so many other black lives throughout our history … Together we stand with the black community and communities of color in the fight against racism, intolerance, discrimination and hate."

    •  Publix announced that it will make a $1 million contribution to National Urban League affiliates across the Southeast US, and CEO Todd Jones sent a related letter to company employees.  An excerpt:

    "Like you, I’m saddened and unsettled by any racial injustice or events that divide our country. There are many emotions we are feeling — fear, anger, anxiety and impatience. Now, more than ever, is the time for us to listen with open hearts and to lead with empathy — toward each other, toward our customers and toward our communities. 

    "At Publix, we reject racism and discrimination of any kind. 

    "With over 220,000 associates, we benefit from being an inclusive company made up of individuals who look and think differently, with backgrounds from around the country and around the world. Embracing our diversity has driven us toward progress, innovation and excellence for almost a century. This diversity fuels my hope for the future, and all that we will accomplish by coming together as One Publix with One Purpose to care for each other with dignity and respect."

    •  The New York Post reports that Amazon founder-CEO Jeff Bezos directly responded to an Amazon customer who objected to a banner on the site saying that "Black lives matter."

    In an email the customer wrote, “I am for everyone voicing their opinions and standing up for what you believe in, but for your company to blast this on your website is very offensive to me … ALL LIVES MATTER!”

    Bezos responded:  "“I have to disagree with you. ‘Black lives matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter.

    “Black lives matter speaks to racism and the disproportionate risk that Black people face in our law enforcement and justice system … I have a 20-year-old son, and I simply don’t worry that he might be choked to death while being detained one day. It’s not something I worry about. Black parents can’t say the same.”

    KC's View:

    First of all, I think Bezos gets it right.  One of the things that I've been thinking a lot about in recent days is how I've never had to have "the talk" with my kids, because there was no chance they were going to be victims of systemic prejudice, were never going to be automatically suspect because of the color of their skin.

    "Black lives matter" does not mean that other lives matter less.  It means that they matter as much as everyone else's, and that, unfortunately, not everybody thinks that way or acts that way.

    Second … I also believe that companies are going to be judged by the positions they take and the actions they make.  They are going to have to be transparent and focused and progressive and consistent … and they're going to have to say what they are going to do and then do what they say.

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    From the New York Times:

    "In the past week, it has seemed like every major company has publicly condemned racism. All-black squares cover corporate Instagram. Executives have made multimillion-dollar pledges to anti-discrimination efforts and programs to support black businesses.

    "Yet many of the same companies expressing solidarity have contributed to systemic inequality, targeted the black community with unhealthy products and services, and failed to hire, promote and fairly compensate black men and women."

    The Times goes on:

    "With dozens of cities protesting the violent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others, a national conversation about racism is underway. For black executives, who have spent their lives excelling at business while overcoming structural discrimination, the killings and ensuing protests have unleashed an outpouring of emotion. Many are speaking candidly about their private fears, as well as their disappointment with the corporate apparatus that made them stars."

    You can read the story here.

    KC's View:

    Meanwhile, Reuters reported on an email sent by Frederick Baba, a managing director at Goldman Sachs who is black, to his colleagues.

    It is an exceptional, powerful email.  Here's how he starts:

    "To everyone who’s asked me some variant of 'how’s it going?' over the past month, I’ve probably lied. Or lacked the words to articulate it fully, but I’m giving it a shot.

    "Obviously my experience is just one along a continuum of black experiences, and I don’t presume to speak for all black people (or even all black people at Goldman Sachs). But the past few months have been demoralizing, and family/friends/colleagues I’ve spoken with and listened to across the firm and country seem to share this feeling. Being black has been nothing if not instructive. I’ve learned history and why people live where they do and why those in positions of power often don’t look like me. I’ve learned that bad things are more likely to happen to black people solely because they’re black. I learned which of my friends’ parents didn’t want me in the house growing up and who would be blamed if my friends broke the law. I’ve learned how to prove intelligent, to prove not threatening, to prove innocent after being assumed guilty. To prove human as this country litigates my personhood in case after case."

    I heartily recommend you read it here.

    Bloomberg had a story over the weekend in which Target spokesman Joshua Thomas is quoted as saying, “It’s critically important that our team -- at all levels -- reflect the diversity of our guests and the communities around us.  Like many other companies, we’re focused on increasing diversity across the company and that includes our most senior-level leaders. We’re committed to hiring diverse talent and providing our team with the training, experiences and opportunities to develop as professionals and leaders within the company.”

    But, as Bloomberg notes, Target has a problematic history:  "Only two years ago, the company settled a class-action lawsuit that accused the retailer of racial discrimination in hiring. It has fallen short of its own goals to retain minorities. Today, only two of its 51 top executives are black."

    I'm not picking on Target here.  Everything I've read about CEOP Brian Cornell tells me that he takes this seriously.  But changing a culture can be a long-term proposition, and the nation's mood suggests that it doesn't have a lot of patience.

    Nor should it.  Not at this point.

    I think that companies need to look around at their management and leadership ranks, and seriously assess whether they have done everything they can do to make sure they reflect America.  They need to look at the managers up and down their organizations, they need to look at their boards of directors, and they need to put into place serious diversity plans, and then be held accountable for living up to their promises.

    I'm not talking about diversity for diversity's sake.  I'm talking about an understanding that companies are better if they reflect a broad understanding of the American experience, if they address rather than ignore blind spots, if they embrace this challenge rather than rationalize inaction.

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    Kroger announced on Friday that it is expanding its partnership with Ocado, saying that they have finalized plans " to construct three new Customer Fulfillment Centers (CFC) in the Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest and West regions," which will "accelerate its ability to provide customers with anything, anytime, anywhere."

    The Ocado model incorporates "state-of-the-art automation and AI," and also is part of previously announced Customer Fulfillment Center (CFC) locations in Monroe, OH; Groveland, FL; Fredericksburg, MD; Atlanta, GA; Dallas, TX; and Pleasant Prairie, WI.

    Kroger said that "the new facility in the West will measure 300,000 square feet, the new facility in the Pacific Northwest will measure 200,000 square feet, and the facility in the Great Lakes region will measure 150,000 square feet. The varying sizes demonstrate the flexibility of the Ocado fulfillment ecosystem to best serve the respective markets. When operational, the facilities will collectively create more than 1,000 new jobs, with the potential for hundreds of additional career opportunities."

    The exact locations are expected to be disclosed "soon."

    KC's View:

    Interesting that these warehouses are getting smaller … the trend seems to be moving in directions that brings all the links of the supply chain closer to the shopper.  Which strikes me as a good thing.

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    Technology news service The Information has a long piece detailing all the ways in which Uber Eats - which has its eye on the US grocery business as a place for possible expansion, which would bring it into direct competition with Instacart - could run into resistance.

    Some excerpts:

    "Uber's grocery delivery plans rest on a Latin American startup called Cornershop it agreed to buy control of last fall for $459 million. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently told investors he is planning to bring Cornershop to many of the markets where Uber operates, especially in the U.S. But antitrust reviews in Mexico and Chile have delayed consummation of the deal. Meanwhile, even before the deal is completed, grocery chains are resisting efforts by Cornershop to expand into the U.S. on its own, The Information has learned. That raises questions about Uber’s success in using the firm to expand, assuming the deal does close."

    "As it awaits the deal’s completion, Cornershop is already expanding into the U.S.—and running into problems. It launched service in Dallas and Miami three and a half weeks ago, selling merchandise from many big chains including Costco, Kroger, Sprouts, Publix, and Aldi, as well as smaller or regional chains such as HEB and Milam’s Market. But Cornershop hadn’t struck any deals with those chains to handle their delivery, and some have exclusive arrangements with rival Instacart. As a result, at the request of the grocery chains, Cornershop had to take the chains’ merchandise and logos out of its app, according to a letter seen by The Information and others with direct knowledge of the situation."

    "The question now is whether after the deal closes, Uber will be able to convince the big grocers to get on board with Cornershop. While some are bound by their deals with Instacart to not work with anyone else, that may not be the case for all grocery chains. Instacart hasn’t identified which chains are exclusive to its service."

    You can read the entire story here.

    KC's View:

    I hope that resistance to Uber Eats translates into broader resistance to the Instacart model, which does not serve the retailer's brand well.  It is nuts that all these companies are willing to outsource a critical part of the customer experience - and an expanding percentage of the customer experience - to companies that will then be able to use the data toi compete with those retailer clients.

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    The Washington Post reports that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has conceded that there has been a "misclassification error" in how it has assessed unemployment numbers that meant the numbers actually were worse than stated.

    A note on last week's unemployment report said that "if this 'misclassification error' had not occurred, the 'overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported,' meaning the unemployment rate would be about 16.3 percent for May. But that would still be an improvement from an unemployment rate of about 19.7 percent for April, applying the same standards."

    The story goes on to point out that "the BLS admitted that some people who should have been classified as 'temporarily unemployed' during the shutdown were instead misclassified as employed but 'absent' from work for 'other reasons.'

    "The 'other reason' category is normally used for people on vacation, serving jury duty or taking leave to care for a child or relative. These are typically situations where the worker decides to take leave. But in this unusual pandemic circumstance, the 'other reason' category was applied to some people staying at home and waiting to be called back."

    KC's View:

    The best news about the Post story is that it says "economists and former BLS leaders from across the political spectrum strongly dismissed" any suggestion that there was political tinkering with the number.  They said that it is 100 percent impossible for such a thing to happen.

    Which is reassuring, and should put any conspiracy theories about this to rest.

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and recovery efforts, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the US, we've now crossed the two-million-case mark for the Covid-19 coronavirus, with a total of 2,007,449 confirmed cases, 112,469 deaths and 761,708 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there now have been 7,107,988 coronavirus cases, with 406,454 fatalities and 3,467,939 reported recoveries.

    •  From the Washington Post this morning:

    "Shutdown orders prevented about 285 million novel coronavirus infections in China and about 60 million in the United States, according to a research study published Monday that examined how stay-at-home orders and other restrictions limited the spread of the contagion.

    "A separate study from epidemiologists at Imperial College London estimated that the shutdowns saved approximately 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries and dropped infection rates by an average of 82 percent, sufficient to drive the contagion well below epidemic levels. Both reports were published Monday in the journal Nature.

    "The two reports provide fresh evidence that aggressive and unprecedented shutdowns, which caused massive economic disruptions, were necessary to halt the exponential spread of the novel coronavirus."

    •  The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that "nearly three months since the U.S. declared a national emergency over the new coronavirus, some states are reporting a rise in new cases as they lift restrictions meant to slow the virus’s spread.

    "California, Utah, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Arkansas and Texas, among others, have all logged rises in confirmed cases, according to a Johns Hopkins tabulation of a five-day moving average."

    The story notes that a national decline in new coronavirus cases largely is driven by an improvement in states that was hard-hit early in the pandemic, such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois.  Death rates also are going down, as testing accessibility improves.

    However, Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an infectious-disease specialist and epidemiologist at Columbia University, tells the Journal that "if you take out the impact of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and so on, you’d have a much more worrisome picture of what’s happening in the U.S."

    •  The BBC reports that Brazil would no longer be reporting cumulative data for the coronavirus pandemic, removing all previous numbers from a government website and saying it would only offer updates for the previous 24 hours.

    The move, the BBC writes, comes "amid criticism of President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the outbreak."   Bolsonaro, the story says, "has been criticised for rejecting lockdown measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and, on Friday, threatened to pull out of the body, accusing it of being a 'partisan political organisation'."

    The country's denial of its pandemic defies the fact that Brazil has the second highest coronavirus cases and third most related deaths on the planet.  (The UK has fewer than half as many cases, but a few thousand more fatalities.)

    •  Axios reports that "there are no known novel coronavirus cases in New Zealand for the first time since COVID-19 arrived in the country on Feb. 28, the government announced Monday afternoon local time …  Shaun Hendy, who heads Te Pūnaha Matatini, a scientific body advising the government on COVID-19, said locking down early with some of the world's toughest measures was 'crucial' to NZ's success, as other countries struggle with slowing the virus' spread and rising death tolls."

    The story says that New Zealand "has confirmed 22 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,154 cases from over 294,800 tests. It has reported no new cases for 17 days … Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced hours later that New Zealand would move to the lowest restriction level from midnight. She indicated earlier most restrictions would be lifted under alert level 1, but the border would remain closed."

    •  One possible casualty of the pandemic - bank branches.

    The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that "branch traffic fell more than 30% in April and the first three weeks of May compared with the same period last year, according to Novantas, a financial-services research firm. Teller transactions dropped 32% in March and April compared with the same period last year, Novantas said."

    The reason:  Mobile banking has become more popular as people sheltered at home during the pandemic lockdown.  This shift, the Journal writes, " delivers an important win for traditional banks, which have been trying for years to steer people away from branches and toward apps and websites for routine transactions. If customers adapt without much complaint, that could give banks fresh reasoning to expedite planned closures and consider additional ones."

    The Journal writes that "there is evidence that customers will continue to pivot to digital banking even after they feel more comfortable visiting businesses again. About 85% of customers who have relied more on mobile and online platforms plan to continue doing so once the pandemic subsides, according to a survey from consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

    "And 40% of people expect to visit their local branch less often after lockdown restrictions in their community end, according to consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners."

    •  USA Today reports that "Amazon announced that it's stopping the $2 hourly pay raise that it added for workers who came in to fill orders under pandemic conditions. The company had said from the beginning that it would be a temporary raise, and it said earlier in May that it would wind down the program the end of the month."

    The story notes that "as the premier American e-commerce machine, Amazon has been inundated with orders throughout the pandemic and has hired extra workers to fulfill them. It had stopped shipping non-essential orders at one point due to overwhelming demand, but has since resumed regular operations as the economy reopens."

    But, there also "have been news reports of COVID-19 spreading through Amazon's warehouses, and eight people who worked at Amazon have died from COVID-19."

    •  Interesting piece in the New York Times about a segment of the population for whom the pandemic and its associated shelter-at-home orders have created additional stresses - people with eating disorders.

    An excerpt:

    "Roughly one in 10 Americans struggle with disordered eating, and the pandemic has created new hurdles for those managing difficult relationships with food. Working from home means spending the day next to a fully stocked refrigerator. Grocery trips are less frequent, creating a pressure to load up. Social meals are out of the question. And many individuals feel an enhanced degree of uncertainty and angst, which can exacerbate existing mental health challenges."

    The Times writes that "in March and April, the National Eating Disorders Association, or NEDA, saw a 78 percent increase in people messaging its help line compared with the same period last year. Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit organization that provides mental health support by text, saw a 75 percent increase in conversations about eating disorders in the two months since March 16, to around 700 conversations from around 400 conversations weekly. A vast majority of those texters — 83 percent — were women, and more than half were under the age of 17."

    The problem is that "community is often a critical component of healing from an eating disorder, so the isolating nature of the pandemic has been especially difficult for those in recovery."

    •  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "Napa County allowed wineries to immediately reopen their tasting rooms last Friday, right after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s updated the state’s industry guidelines. Previously, all wineries were required to serve full meals alongside tastings, which prevented Napa Valley wineries from opening because Napa County prohibits wineries from serving full meals. One Napa Valley winery, Caymus Vineyards, sued Newsom and the state public health officer, alleging the state’s plan was discriminatory.

    "But the new guidelines, recommended to start June 12, waive the meal requirement.

    "That means some Napa wineries started opening this weekend, including Castello di Amorosa and Ashes & Diamonds, with more plotting their reopenings for the coming week. While many Sonoma County wineries had already reopened for outdoor, sit-down experiences pairing food and wine, shuttered wineries are looking forward to reopening with fewer restrictions on Friday."

    •  The Modesto Bee reported that Yosemite National Park has opened " to backpackers with existing wilderness permits and those with permits to hike Half Dome."

    According to the story, "Yosemite officials have not said when the popular national park will reopen to other visitors. Park spokespeople told The Bee earlier Tuesday that they do not have an estimate for when that will be announced.

    "Wilderness permits to access the park’s backcountry trails and sites are different from campground reservations, where visitors can drive up to campsites. Day hiking on Yosemite trails also is not part of this reopening phase."

    Still, the ability to wander Yosemite is the kind of thing that can give one perspective, which, I think, is sorely needed these days.

    •  From the Associated Press:

    "For weeks Samantha Clarke calmly listened to the insults and threats directed daily at her and her employees by people who learned they couldn’t enter the Modesto, California, store without wearing a mask and following other coronavirus-related rules.

    "But never, says the 17-year veteran of retail sales, did she expect she’d be sucker-punched and knocked to the floor, blood gushing from her battered face. Not until it happened recently after a customer was told the last above-ground swimming pool in stock had just been sold to someone else … But in retrospect, she says, perhaps she should have seen it coming."

    “We are hearing an increasing number of reports of abuse and violence directed against retail workers who are doing their jobs by asking customers to wear face masks or comply with other guidelines intended to protect their own safety,” says David French, senior vice president for government relations for the National Retail Federation (NRF), who, the story says, "called on authorities to prosecute such cases 'to the fullest extent of the law' and do a better job of protecting retail workers."

    The nation clearly is at a boiling point, and summer doesn't even start for another couple of weeks.  Hard to imagine what things might be like in the dog days of summer.  (There's also a story out that utility companies are expecting the demand for electricity to be higher than usual this summer because of so many people working at home.  If the grid blows … well, all bets are off.  Welcome to dystopia.)

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    The New York Times had an interview over the weekend with Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein, in which he talks about how the Unilever-owned company is dealing with some of the social-cultural issues roiling the country.

    Some excerpts:

    •  On racial issues…  "It’s a devastating moment, and we’re responding on many different levels. I’m personally sad. I’m outraged by the actions of hate and violence and racism that just keep seem to coming back and back and back at us. George Floyd is the latest example, but there’s Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and sadly we can keep going on. For me, this is really personal. This son of a Holocaust survivor who lost her entire family, we know the impact of systemic institutional hate and we need to speak out, but even more we need to take action. I personally stand as an ally with the black community. It’s time for us to both speak out and to take action.

    "The Seventh Generation foundation committed $100,000 to the bail project to ensure that protesters and others who are incarcerated aren’t paying a bigger price for expressing the hurt that they’re clearly feeling. We’re also calling on Congress for safe, improved access to voting, which we think is a basic human right."

    •  On workplace diversity…  "We started working really closely on inclusion about five years ago. We actually have a work force which is almost 70 percent female. And yet what we were finding when we took a look in the mirror some time ago was that we weren’t seeing women represented on the executive team and our board and the higher levels of management at the same rate that they were present in the country.

    "Now we have a leadership team which is 50-50 male-female. So we we’ve made good progress in creating a space where we think that women can succeed.

    "Racial diversity has been a bigger challenge for us, to be really frank. When we started our efforts, less than 6 percent of our company were people of color. We’re now at about 16 percent, which is still not anywhere close to what we need to be."

    •  On the company's mission…  "It comes back to your values. It comes back to our mission. Seven Generation has a really clear mission, which is about transforming the world into a healthy, sustainable and equitable place for the next seven generations. We use that really as a guiding star for the issues that we want to engage in."

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that "Chuck E. Cheese, the restaurant chain and popular children’s party venue, is in talks with its lenders to raise money to avoid filing for bankruptcy, according to people familiar with the matter … the Irving, Texas-based food-and-games chain has also approached lenders in recent weeks to gauge their interest in providing a $200 million loan to finance a stay in bankruptcy."

    The Journal writes that "soon after the pandemic shut most restaurants, Chuck E. Cheese’ parent, CEC Entertainment Inc., in April announced that the company was exploring options including refinancings, restructuring out-of-court or bankruptcy."

    And then, there is this nugget from the Journal story:

    "On Friday CEC said it would pay nearly $3 million in retention bonuses to three top executives, including $1.3 million earmarked for Chief Executive David McKillips.

    Such prebankruptcy bonuses for top executives have become more common at struggling companies during the coronavirus pandemic because retention bonuses for insiders and other top managers are illegal under bankruptcy law."

    KC's View:

    Did a quick check online, and it looks like Chuck E. Cheese had about 15,000 employees in North America before the pandemic hit … and it seems like a pretty good bet that none of those folks got retention bonuses.  (The Journal notes that the company, as soon as it started closing its restaurants because of the pandemic, it stopped making rent payments - saving $7 million a month - and furloughed most of its employees.)

    But the CEO gets a cool million - for, best I can tell, doing his freakin' job.

    Now, except for those poor employees, I'm not inclined to spend much energy defending Chuck E. Cheese.  When I saw this story, I asked my wife and kids if we'd ever done a kid's birthday party there.  My wife and two older kids remember my going to several parties held for other kids, but we never did one there for our kids.  My youngest, our daughter, cannot remember my ever going to one - she says it is because I am a pizza snob and wouldn't even think of going to such a place to eat.

    I am more than totally okay with this characterization.  I feel about Chuck E. Cheese the way James T. Kirk used to feel about Klingons:

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    •  The Puget Sound Business Journal has an analysis of Amazon's moves to expand its air fleet, noting that its leasing of new Boeing jets is a 17 percent  increase in its air shipping capacity, and "amounts to a strategy used often by Amazon: It builds the tools it needs for its own operations, fine-tunes them until they're highly efficient, then unleashes them on the marketplace, experts said.

    "In other words, if other companies can't get the job done for Amazon, the company uses its vast cash stores to bring the operation in-house, operating at a loss or breaking even for a time, and eventually posing a threat to the service providers it once relied on … Amazon used a similar strategy when it established Amazon Web Services in 2006. It built out its own cloud service to keep up with traffic to its website. Then it sold the excess service capacity to enterprise customers, creating the juggernaut that AWS is today."

    One expert tells the Business Journal that Amazon has proven that it has the potential to compete with FedEx and UPS … which should scare the bejeezus out of those companies.

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  Bloomberg reports that "Apple Inc. is preparing to allow customers to buy many of its products, including iPads, Macs and AirPods, over monthly installments via its Apple Card credit card.

    "The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is planning to roll out the service in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the plan. The offering will let customers buy a product through Apple and split up the cost over several months with interest-free payments … The payments will be managed through the Apple Card section in the Wallet app on the iPhone and charges will be added to a customer’s monthly Apple Card bill. Apple started a similar program for the iPhone last year, offering 24 months no interest."

    I lease my MacBook Pro through a leasing company.  It is the second or third laptop that I've leased this way - I find it to be a cost-effective way to make sure I have up-to-date technology.  (In the past, I tended to keep my laptops for way too long.)  But if Apple wanted me to lease by using an Apple Card, I'd probably do it … and it would be a smart way for Apple to bring me into that ecosystem.

    •  CNN reports that Gap has figured out what it is going to do with all the clothes that were in its closed stores and went unsold during the past few months during shelter-at-home and lockdown orders throughout the country.

    It is going to pack them up and try to sell them next year.

    The policy is called "pack-and-hold."

    According to the story, "The retailer is planning to store the summer and fall products that it couldn't sell and bring them into its locations in 2021. This includes merchandise that was never delivered to shops across Gap's namesake brand as well as Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta. Gap didn't say whether the year-old products would sell at regular price or at a discount."

    I've heard of being fashion-forward.  Is this being fashion-backward?

    •  USA Today reports that "Yelp is making it easier for users to locate black-owned businesses amid  renewed calls for racial equality in America. 

    "The app known for crowd-sourced reviews is launching a tool within the next two weeks that lets businesses identify themselves as black-owned, Yelp recently announced in a blog post.  Only businesses that chose to opt-in will show up in the results. So far, it's unclear whether there will be a vetting process."

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    •  Mike Witt, a four-decade veteran of Supervalu whose last job there was as Senior Director, Corporate Development and Innovation before retiring last year, has passed away of what was called a "catastrophic cardiac event."  He was 67.

    •  Harry Hoffman, who led Waldenbooks during the 1980s and helped make it the nation's largest bookseller - opening hundreds of stores and even offering a toll-free number that would allow shoppers to purchase books not carried in-store - has passed away.  He was 92.

    The New York Times lists some of Hoffman's innovations:  "He created superstores called Waldenbooks & More, whose book inventories were far bigger than those carried by the chain’s traditional stories and which also sold video and audiocassettes, compact discs and games. He established a Preferred Reader program, which for a $5 annual fee gave buyers a discount on all purchases and a rebate for every $100 spent. And he started a raft of book clubs to nurture store loyalty among readers of romance, science fiction and mystery titles."

    Published on: June 8, 2020

    Responding to last Friday's improved unemployment numbers, one MNB reader wrote:

    It is important to remember that these are not new jobs. They existed before the pandemic. It does not indicate economic growth per se,  but that perhaps we are on a path to what existed before.

    We're on a path to somewhere.  I think we all can agree on that.

    Regarding Impossible Burger's plans to go consumer-direct, one MNB reader wrote:

    Makes sense KC, no more meetings with category managers, no more slotting fees, free first fills, etc.

    Gosh.  You make it sound so onerous.

    MNB reader Bob Thomas had a suggestion based on another MNB story:

    Eat more iguanas.  They are an invasive species to Florida and damage seawalls and sidewalks.

    Next time I get to Florida, I will.  Not a lot of iguanas in Connecticut.

    Regarding the new trend of food trucks going to the suburbs and using order-ahead technology - their way of staying in business during shelter-at-home orders -  MNB reader Tom DeLuca wrote:

    Love this!! Generally speaking, I imagine a good amount of the ‘lunch crowd’ likely lives in the suburbs.  “They” are likely missing their normal lunch options now stuck at home, in the burbs, and depending on where one lives, choices of culinary exploration are limited to lifeless chains with predictable menus, all really just a carbon-copy of one another.  Exciting to mix it up a little.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if not only pre-ordering, but take the food truck to become more a mobile kitchen…thinking about that dingy that’s towed behind the yacht.  A food-truck that offers home delivery (for an upcharge) from a vespa that’s carried to the suburban intersection where they set up shop within i.e. 3 miles of the truck.  That would be awesome-er!

    MNB reader Dean Chilcote chimed in:

    I experienced online ordering from a food truck for the first time this week. At my work we have Food Truck Friday (which just recently started back up again) in which a different food truck vendor shows up around lunch time.

    This week, the email notification about which vendor it would be contained a website link to pre-order your food. I thought it was so you could order something when they arrived and then go pick it up to avoid the lines but instead it was to order your food days ahead. All I have to do now is go pick it when they arrive. I thought this was a great idea; I don’t have to wait in line and they know how much business they’re going to have. I imagine that more and more food trucks will adopt this model.

    Last year I did a Retail Tomorrow podcast with Sterling Hawkins in which our guest was Patrick Fore, CEO of Fleat, which essentially uses a combination of  shopper data and geo-tracking software to provide shoppers with a selection of items that reflect their past purchasing behavior and likely interests based on previous shopping trips.   So their retail clients using the software can bring pre-ordered items as well as a customized selection of things you might want right to you.  Which sort of seems like a prescient idea considering where we are today.

    I think this whole sector is primed for disruption and to break out in a big way as smart people and companies move beyond traditional thinking and boundaries.

    On Friday's FaceTime, I recommended a wonderful book called "A Kids Book About Racism," by Jelani Memory.

    One MNB reader responded:

    Thank you for being a voice speaking out – and providing an easy to ready/listen and understand book. 

    Working together we can create the needed change – and I pray that my 5 year old son will not experience the racism that his father has and does.

    And from another reader:

    Great book. However, the title is wrong. Should be "An Adults Book About Racism."

    Good point.

    For those of you who missed it on Friday, here is a YouTube video of the author reading his book: