business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of how changes in consumer habits have taken so many cars off the road, MNB reader Brent Elkins wrote:

Sorry, I can't resist: long-time reader, first-time commenter.

I find it sad that the main takeaway of the reduction in car usage/sales/repairs is 'bad news'. Yes, you mentioned some upsides, but the headline was about bad news. Americans driving less, using fewer fossil fuels and contributing less to global warming should be celebrated, not treated with hand-wringing.

Pardon my stereotype, but I find this attitude prevalent among baby boomers (Al Gore notwithstanding, and no, I'm not a millennial), much to the detriment of everyone else that is and will be on the planet. Human economics and health to all industries is not and should not be of paramount importance. Organizing our investment and industry in a sustainable way should be.

So here, let me fix this headline for you:

Pandemic Trends Reduce Reliance On Cars and Oil, Help In The Fight Against Global Warming

You're right … and they way I approached it actually is at odds with how I feel about the situation.

Regarding an oft-mentioned topic, one MNB reader wrote:

There is a very positive aspect to Instacart that is frequently overlooked.  Instacart can drive sales without straining Operations.  

The Operations function at every retailer is under extreme stress.  New cleaning regimens, enforcing social distancing, testing ways to reduce lines in the store, new protocols for handling charge cards and change, changes with the policy of customer bags – the list goes on and on.  To add a home-delivery or curbside program to an already strained operations team is a recipe for failure.  The Instacart solution delivers immediate scale without straining operations.

The retailer where I work has less than a 10% share – a lot of the orders I get on Instacart are incremental to our business.

Instacart is not a forever answer – but it is a fast solution with scale that we can leverage quickly during a unique time in our industry. 

I get all this.  

My questions are… a) will retailers get addicted to the Instacart checks and not invest in proprietary solutions, and b) at what cost to brand equity is this solution being employed?

On the subject of mask mandates, one MNB reader wrote:

I wanted to chime in on a comment one of your readers wrote: "Customers walk into my store all the time without a mask on.  No one says anything to them because it’s against HIPPA rules to ask anyone what their medical condition is that prevents them from abiding by these mandates."

That is not true, earlier this year I got HIPAA training, I was a Job Coach and many of my clients had medical conditions. The job disappeared with the pandemic.  HIPPA regulations and rules govern the giving out of medical information to a third party, an individual can give any medical information about themselves to anyone they wish. Furthermore people can ask about other people's health, the individual does not have to give it to them if they don’t want to. For example if you see so one who is unsteady, pale, not breathing well you can ask if they are feeling alright. They may tell you to call 911, they got stung by a bee, they are diabetic, having an asthma attack whatever.  What I cannot do Kevin, is tell Michael Sansolo your medical information without your permission, even though I know you are close friends. Even if I thought you may want him to know I cannot give out any medical information without your permission.The other part of HIPPA is we need the medical information to be secure, use secure means of communications and keep files in a secure location, on secure computers and servers. That in a nutshell is what HIPPA is all about. Medical providers know this and how to write a letter that complies with HIPPA to any of their patients that need the letter. 

On a related subject, from an MNB reader:

Every day, the top bullet point in your Covid-19 Coronavirus Update reports the number of climbing deaths in the US that are attributed to the Covid-19 coronavirus.  CNN, too, posts these numbers on the right side of their screen.

We see this number daily, and it has become a sad part of our lives.  Yet, as we live through this pandemic, we need to remember that every single one of those almost 150,000 numbers represents a person who died, as well as a family of loved-ones who are now without a family member.  The Covid-19 pandemic has business and life-style implications, but most of these people would still be alive and with us, if not for this dreadful virus.

I never forget this.  That's why I run the numbers, and will continue to.