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    Published on: August 26, 2020

    by Michael Sansolo

    Try as I might to be current, I’m given constant reminders (usually by my children) that I’m increasingly out of touch. So as a public service, here’s one more trend I encountered and what I think it means for businesses.

    My old college recently asked me to lead an on-line seminar about public speaking skills to help young grads who find themselves needing such skills to navigate increasingly tough economic straits. I readily agreed.

    But I noticed that the e-mails sent me from the alumni affairs office included a line I hadn’t seen.  In the signature line of the e-mails she sent me, my contact listed her name, title, phone and “she, her, hers.” Truthfully, I was befuddled, so I asked.

    She explained (in a very non-condescending tone) that the school is trying to be sensitive to the gender issues of the day, so that line is included to help indicate what pronouns she prefers for anyone responding. Plus she thanked me for noticing and asking.

    Now, there’s a chance you read that last paragraph and your head exploded for one of two reasons.

    You might be questioning how I never heard of this before. Believe me, my daughter said that and worse yet, both Kevin and my wife agreed.

    Or, you shook your head and said, “What is this politically correct crap?”

    Let's answer that question by establishing something about my college.  I wasn’t a good enough high school student to attend an elite liberal arts school in New England, California or anywhere else.  Rather, I went to a small state college in the middle of upstate New York. I love my alma mater, but I wouldn’t describe it as overly political in any way. (Our biggest passions there were beer and lacrosse.)

    Colleges have a strange business model that we need to consider. Essentially, they lose roughly 25 percent of their customers each year thanks mainly to graduation, so they must constantly recruit a replacement class. That may not be an issue for Harvard, but again, I didn’t attend Harvard. I think my school has made this small change in e-mails to be a little more welcoming to students of all kinds, because, after all, a college needs to attract that new crop of students. And frankly, adding a sensitivity to pronouns shouldn’t really bother anyone because it doesn’t impact the beer/lacrosse factor or anything else.

    For cisgender people (those for whom their gender is in alignment with the gender they were assigned at birth), these are easy statements.  But for others, they may not be.  For them, the world is harder to navigate.

    For customer-facing businesses out there, I know this is one more complexity in a world that seems loaded with complexities and near endless ways to offend.  Sensitivity to pronouns seems like such a small thing, but to a specific group of people, it means everything. And perhaps to a larger group, it demonstrates caring.

    Yes, it is an amazingly complex world with near endless demands on your time and attention. The necessity to be aware of so many issues can be draining, but it’s endlessly important that we all pay attention to such things so that we can make informed decisions on when to act or not act.

    You aren’t running a college, but you too need to keep attracting and retaining people as both customers and staffers. To quote an old song, sometimes you have to try a little tenderness.

    The soft words they are spoke so gentle, yeah…

    It makes it easier, easier to bear, yeah…

     It might help.


    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com.

    His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

    And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    From National Public Radio's Marketplace, a pair of reports that suggest a disconnect between consumer and CEO attitudes.

    The first story:

    "Consumer confidence has fallen — again.

    "This is the latest gauge of American consumer attitudes taken by The Conference Board think tank. For August, its Consumer Confidence Index came in at 84.8 - below expectations and down from 91.7 in July. It was down quite a lot from June - 98.3 - when there was a fair amount of optimism building among consumers as the economy reopened and some folks were called back to work.

    "But the summer surge in COVID-19, states pausing their reopenings, schools starting virtually and gridlock in Washington over extending unemployment benefits - it’s all taking a toll on the American consumer."

    The second story:

    "While some have lost their optimism in their businesses or the economy since the beginning of the year, many CEOs are still optimistic their business will continue to grow, according to the accounting firm KPMG’s annual U.S. CEO outlook survey."

    Marketplace writes that "about 60% of CEO respondents said they were 'more confident' in their businesses’ growth prospects compared with the beginning of the year."

    KC's View:

    One of the interesting things about the CEO numbers is the implication that even as most CEOs are optimistic, they also are using the circumstances of the pandemic to reorder their priorities.

    For example, "74% indicated they were prioritizing investments in digitization of their business strategy over developing their workforce’s skills and capabilities," while "69% said they will downsize their office space," and "58% said the pandemic has changed their focus towards their environmental, social and governance-related programs."

    It may, in fact, be that one of the reasons that they are confident is that these CEOs feel that they are being given the opportunity to strengthen their companies' foundations - infrastructural, organizational, ethical - in ways that will pay dividends long-term.

    KPMG Chair and CEO Paul Knopp, asked about one statistic - 77 percent of CEOs say that "they need to reevaluate their corporate purpose as a result of COVID-19" - replies that "when you think about purpose, it’s very much a stakeholder view. You’re looking broadly at your impact on society in what you do and how your strategic actions within the business will impact all those different stakeholders. When we think about purpose - and the study certainly reveals that CEOs are much more focused now on purpose, values, culture, employee engagement - that is very important for our future, and we are very focused on how we sustain strong cultures while we’re working more remotely into the future."

    It is a broader view about how business fits into and reflects society that is becoming much more important in a world that we'd like to be more civilized than it actually is.

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    From Bloomberg:

    "Grocery stores are booming as the coronavirus pandemic drives Americans to stock up their pantries. But the nation’s biggest grocer is largely missing out.

    "Walmart Inc., which has sat at the top of the food chain for years, has lost market share to companies like Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos., whose quarterly sales have risen by double-digit percentages. While much is made of Walmart’s high-stakes battle with Amazon.com Inc., right now it’s mainstream supermarkets who are nibbling away at Walmart’s dominance in the nation’s $900 billion grocery market."

    There are several factors contributing to this trend, Bloomberg writes:

    •  "Walmart’s penny-pinching core shoppers don’t eat out as often as those who frequent mainstream grocers, so those chains are enjoying a greater uplift as their clientele shift their budgets to homemade meals.

    •  "Traditional supermarkets also have largely abandoned their usual discounting strategies given the unprecedented demand for food, so they’re selling more at full price, boosting their gains … By selling more than three-quarters of their products at full price, sales growth for Kroger and others got temporarily inflated. Meanwhile, Walmart’s everyday-low-price policy prevents it from playing that game, so it didn’t benefit."

    The story goes on:  "With Walmart about to introduce a grocery-based membership program to rival Amazon Prime, it’s a bad time to be grappling with disloyal shoppers. And as supermarket workers earn praise as unsung heroes of the pandemic, shoppers may be keen to shift more dollars to the corner grocer than the nation’s biggest retailer.

    "That tighter emotional bond with local grocers is backed by researcher GlobalData Retail, which found that the share of Americans who shop at Kroger and Albertsons for groceries rose by more than five percentage points each between the first and second quarters. GlobalData analyst Neil Saunders said those grocers are benefiting more than Walmart from the sharp falloff in restaurant dining."

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    Bloomberg reports that starting this week, people buying bagged Starbucks beans in the US "will be able to use a code on the bags to find out where their beans came from, where they were roasted and even get brewing tips from baristas …  The new tool, powered by Microsoft Corp., uses blockchain technology and will allow Starbucks to share with its customers the traceability data the world’s largest coffee- shop chain has been collecting for more than a decade. It will also help the company attract sustainably-minded young consumers, many of whom had been flocking to small craft shops where coffee is roasted at the back of the store."

    The story points out that "millennial consumers have increasingly become more interested in knowing where their food comes from, how it was grown and whether it was produced in a sustainable and ethical way. That’s forcing some of the world’s largest food companies and agricultural commodity traders to be more transparent about their supply chains. And for that, they are turning to technology."

    KC's View:

    Excellent.

    I've been saying for years that this kind of information ought to be made available to every consumer for every product.

    I can remember years ago being in a Japanese supermarket where there were packaged tomatoes that had a code allowing people to use their cell phone camera - this was long before smart phones - to figure out where the tomatoes were grown, how they were fertilized, and see a picture of the farmer who grew the tomatoes.

    In the meat counter, all of the beef had corresponding code numbers allowing you to know where the source cow was born and housed, what it had been fed, and seven see a picture of the rancher who owned the cow.

    I can remember being wowed by the system - I felt like I was seeing the future - and asking the retailer how many people used the system.  "About five percent," he replied.

    "Only five percent!"  I was crestfallen.  But the retailer looked at me and patiently explained that I did not understand.  (I get that a lot.)  "The fact that only five percent of our customers use the system means that 95 percent of our customers trust us, because they do not feel the need to check."

    Systems such as these that promote transparency and traceability are designed to create trust as much as provide information.  In the long run, companies resistant to such transparency may be asked what they have to hide.

    Remember the Latin proverb:  Trust, like the soul, never returns once it goes.

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, we now have 5,956,160 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 182,421 deaths and 3,254,739 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there are 24,086,728 confirmed coronavirus cases, 823,987 fatalities, and 16,629,964 reported recoveries.

    •  The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a new survey from the city's Chamber of Commerce saying that more than half the city's storefronts have been shuttered by the pandemic - meaning that some 1,300 have closed, leaving 1,200 still open.


    •  From the Washington Post:

    "A Florida judge Monday granted a temporary injunction against the state’s order requiring school districts to reopen schools during the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying in a harshly worded decision that safety concerns had been ignored.

    "Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson, in a 16-page decision, granted the request in a lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association (FEA) to block the order issued July 6 by state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran compelling schools to reopen five days a week for families who did not want their children to do all virtual learning. Districts were threatened with loss of state funding if they did not comply.

    "But late Monday, state officials filed an intention to appeal, which put a stay on the preliminary injunction. Lawyers for the FEA said they would file a motion to reinstate the judge’s ruling."


    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that "an uptick in coronavirus cases in Danbury, Conn., has prompted officials to close down athletic fields and boat launches and delay in-person learning, likely until October.

    "The infection rate in Danbury, a city of roughly 85,000, jumped to about 6% or 7% in a relatively short period, Gov. Ned Lamont said at a news conference Tuesday. Connecticut’s statewide infection rate has hovered around 1% for months … Officials are also seeing a higher rate of infection among young people. Mr. Lamont said the state had shut down the boat launch to nearby Candlewood Lake after several large parties were reported there."

    Also from the Journal:

    "As new coronavirus cases continue to decline nationally, health officials and business leaders in rural parts of Illinois are raising alarms about rising infection rates that are fueling a steady increase in positive cases statewide.

    "In the past two weeks, eight of the 10 counties in Illinois with the fastest rates of new Covid-19 cases per capita were in smaller nonmetropolitan counties across the state, compared with two metro counties, according to an analysis of data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.

    "This is a reversal from an earlier trend, which saw Cook County, which includes Chicago, leading the state in coronavirus infections. Since March, Cook County has accounted for about 55% of the state’s Covid-19 cases. But its contribution has slowed as cases have spread to other corners of the state. In the week prior to Aug. 17, Cook County accounted for 38% of the state’s new cases."


    •  From the New York Times:

    "The United States is no longer the world’s only rich country still suffering through a major coronavirus outbreak. So is Spain.

    "Spain’s number of cases has surged in the last month. Over the last week, its per capita rate of new cases has been five times larger than France’s, six times larger than Portugal’s and 15 times larger than Japan’s. Adjusted for population, Spain’s outbreak has even surpassed the U.S. outbreak over the last few days."

    The story says that analysis suggest that a number of factors have played into the resurgence of coronavirus cases in Spain, including a lack of clear national message and strategy, not enough testing and contact tracing, and premature reopenings that put more people at risk.


    •  The New York Times has a story about how the British government is helping to support and rejuvenate the UK's restaurant industry, which, like its US brethren, has been hit hard by the pandemic and its resultant shutdowns.

    "The answer: half-price food. For the month of August, the government has been paying for a 50 percent discount on all meals eaten in restaurants, pubs or cafes, up to 10 pounds ($13) per person, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays."

    The Times writes that "it’s a discount that Britons have taken up with relish … In the first three weeks of the Eat Out to Help Out program, 64 million meals — enough for nearly the entire British population of about 67 million — were eaten using the discount, costing the government £336 million ($441 million).

    The story notes that "the restaurant industry is grateful for the rush of customers, but there are concerns about whether a temporary discount can trigger a sustainable recovery.

    "The government’s offer, aided by some pleasant weather this August, has encouraged customers to return to restaurants, especially the outdoor seating offered by many establishments. If diners retreat back to their homes once it’s too cold to dine outdoors, however, or unemployment rises as the furlough program ends in October, what then?"


    •  The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) announced yesterday that it is canceling its 2020 Private Label Trade Show, scheduled for Chicago from November 15-17, "in light of continuing uncertainties concerning the health and safety of participants at large-scale, in-person gatherings."

    PLMA said that its live show will return next year, but also announced what it called "a new and unprecedented virtual event for February 1-5, 2021: PLMA Live! Presents Private Label Week," which is designed to "provide retailers and private label manufacturers the opportunity to interact and work together via live video meetings and chat communication tools using PLMA’s own digital platform."


    •  ESPN reports that "world-record sprinter and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt has tested positive for the coronavirus and is self-isolating at his home in Jamaica after celebrating his 34th birthday with a mask-free party last week."


    •  Fascinating story in the Washington Post about how attendees at a leadership meeting for drug company Biogen ended up being responsible for broad spread of the coronavirus.

    Here's how the Post frames the story:

    "None of the biotech executives at the meeting noticed the uninvited guest. They had flown to Boston from across the globe for the annual leadership meeting of the drug company Biogen, and they were busy catching up with colleagues and hobnobbing with upper management. For two days they shook hands, kissed cheeks, passed each other the salad tongs at the hotel buffet, never realizing that one among their number carried the coronavirus in their lungs.

    "By the meeting’s end on Feb. 27, the infection had infiltrated many more people: a research director, a photographer, the general manager for the company’s east division. They took the virus home with them to the Boston suburbs, Indiana and North Carolina, to Slovakia, Australia and Singapore … A sweeping study of nearly 800 coronavirus genomes, conducted by no less than 54 researchers at the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and several other institutions in the state, has found that viruses carrying the conference’s characteristic mutation infected hundreds of people in the Boston area, as well as victims from Alaska to Senegal to Luxembourg. As of mid-July, the variant had been found in about one-third of the cases sequenced in Massachusetts and 3 percent of all genomes studied thus far in the United States."

    You can read the entire story here.

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    There is a story in the Seattle Times about how Alaska salmon have gotten measurably smaller in recent decades, and there apparently are two reasons.

    The downsizing, the Times writes, "appears to be largely driven by climate change and increased competition for food as hatcheries release some 5 billion young fish into the North Pacific each year, according to a study published this month by U.S. and Canadian researchers in the science journal Nature Communications.

    "Alaska provides the vast majority of the United States’ wild salmon, and their smaller size is reducing the number of eggs that these fish produce and their value to commercial and other fishermen.

    "That decline encompasses salmon runs all over the state but varies by species and region. Chinook returning across a broad expanse of western and northern Alaska were some 10% smaller than the average size before 1990. Meanwhile in southeast Alaska, sockeye salmon declined — on average — by only about 2%.

    "Many of these salmon appear to be returning from the ocean earlier to freshwater spawning grounds, and that’s why they are smaller as they reach coastal-area harvest zones."

    KC's View:

    My first reaction to this story was that a shrinking salmon would fit better on a bagel with a schmear … but after a little consideration, I realized that this was a smart-ass and shortsighted thing to say.

    My second reaction was that stories like these can serve to awaken us to unintended and unnoticed consequences of our actions.  For those of us who think of salmon as something to be picked up from the market, as opposed to being an amazing yet vulnerable natural resource, it is good to be reminded of such things.

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  From Business Insider:

    "Amazon came under fire Tuesday from Etsy CEO Josh Silverman, who alleged in a blog post that the company was trying to turn a proposed California consumer protection bill into a 'wolf in sheep's clothing' that would stifle competition.

    "'Amazon is taking bold steps to wipe out its competitors by promoting complex, hard-to-comply-with legislation that only they can afford to absorb. Amazon's goal is to be the only place to buy stuff online,' Silverman wrote."

    At issue is a proposed California law "that would make online marketplaces liable for defective products sold on their sites by third parties — like brick-and-mortar stores and most retailers are already — which would be the first such law in the US."

    While the original law "exempted online sales of auctioned and handmade goods, as well as classified ads sites, meaning most products sold on marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, and Craigslist," Amazon has come out for a version that would apply to all online marketplaces.

    Silverman's argument that this version would make it impossible for smaller competitors to comply, which would put them out of business in the nation's most populous state.


    •  In Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports that Best Buy's Q2 online sales were up 242 percent to $4.85 billion.

    Overall, Best Buy's Q2 same-store sales were up five percent, with total sales up 3.9 percent to $9.9 billion.  Net earnings increased 81.5% to $432 million.

    Which breaks out to online sales being roughly half the company's total for Q2 … which certainly ought to be a lesson to Best Buy as it thinks about its long-term bricks-and-mortar strategy as well as how it should approach the fast-approaching end-of-year holiday shopping season.


    •  Women's Wear Daily reports that "Amazon is forging ahead with plans for a luxury brand platform, with the first of a dozen international accessories and ready-to-wear labels opening shops on the site as fashion show season kicks off in September."

    These shops, the story says, will operate as their own concessions on the site, which will serve as a platform rather than an an active retailing entity.

    According to the story, "The brands partnering with Amazon will also have access to centralized warehousing in the U.S., operated by Amazon, and be able to lean on the tech giant’s vast delivery network.  The platform will be launched in the U.S. initially, and Amazon has been working directly with the brands’ U.S. offices and subsidiaries."

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    •  The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that Walmart "has temporarily suspended its in-home grocery delivery service introduced last fall, but is offering subscribers other delivery options as the pandemic continues … Walmart's delivery employees are no longer taking groceries into customers' homes and refrigerators. Instead, these customers were switched to a no-contact option called Doorstep Delivery."

    The change only applies to customers in areas where InHome delivery has been piloted since last October -  Kansas City, Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach, Florida.

    Walmart says that it will resume in-home delivery once the pandemic has largely passed.

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  Business Insider reports that "the discount grocery chain Lidl is opening 50 new stores in nine states by the end of 2021, the company said Tuesday.

    "The stores, which will bring Lidl's US footprint up to about 150 locations, will be located in Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.

    "Lidl plans to invest more than $500 million into the new stores and hire about 2,000 people. Lidl will also close two stores in Havelock and Shelby, North Carolina.

    "The German-based chain slowed its initial store growth plans after entering the US two year ago. The company had originally planned to open 100 stores in the US by mid-2018, and ultimately reached that goal in 2020."


    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "McDonald’s Corp. said its continuing investigation into former CEO Steve Easterbrook’s conduct is examining whether he covered up improprieties by other employees alongside allegations of potential misconduct within the human-resources department.

    "McDonald’s filed suit against the former CEO following a tip that board chairman Rick Hernandez received last month about an alleged sexual relationship between Mr. Easterbrook and an employee. That tip also raised concerns about the HR department and possible improprieties by other employees, McDonald’s executives said. The company declined to provide details on allegations that it said involved the HR department."

    Sounds to me like someone has to get into McDonald's organizational structure and grab a bucket and mop, scrub the bottom and top … 

    •  Fox News reports that "Nordstrom reported a bigger-than-expected loss on Tuesday, as the COVID-19 pandemic shut its stores for about half of the reported quarter and consumers stayed home with little need for designer clothes."

    Nordstrom said it had a Q2 net loss of $255 million, compared with a profit of $141 million a year earlier.  Total revenue fell 52% to $1.86 billion.

    Even online sales were off in the quarter - down five percent, in part because "the retailer moved its popular Anniversary Sale from the second to the third quarter."

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    •  Coca-Cola has named Alfredo Rivera, a 23-year veteran of the company who most recently was president of its Latin America group, to be the new president of its North America division.

    Rivera succeeds James Dinkins, who is retiring.

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    From yesterday's MNB:

    "Ahold Delhaize-owned Hannaford Supermarkets announced a new partnership with Instacart 'to offer same-day delivery from nearly all Hannaford store locations. With this partnership, Hannaford is expanding the ways in which their customers across New England and New York can access fresh groceries and household essentials by offering delivery directly from the store to their door in as fast as an hour. This partnership will complement Hannaford’s existing curbside and delivery service Hannaford To Go, which remains available to customers'."

    I commented, in part:

    Not to draw too fine a point on this, but let me just quote the salient paragraph from the Albany Times Union story about the deal, in which it points out that in addition to Hannaford … 

    "Price Chopper, Market32, Aldi, Honest Weight Food Co-op, B.J.'s, Shop Rite, Market Bistro, The Fresh Market, Sam's Club, Rite Aid, CVS, Staples and Big Lots are among the retailers offering Instacart delivery locally."

    Yup.  That's how to differentiate yourself.  Do what everybody else is doing, with the same company with which everybody else is doing business.

    One MNB reader responded:

    Please don’t use my name as I still have friends who work for Hannaford, but you hit the nail on the head. At one time Hannaford was a leader in innovation and creative thinking, but after 20 years of “mergers,” the brain power has been sucked dry or more likely RIF’d. From the top down, people are just filling slots waiting for their next orders from Salisbury, and they from Europe. A once great company relegated to the dustbin of mediocrity. 

    Yikes.  But tell us how you really feel…

    Yesterday MNB took note of a Bloomberg story about Trader Joe's that, contrary to much coverage about ther company, suggests that "its future is more uncertain than ever, as it contends with changing shopping habits precipitated by the pandemic."

    Trader Joe’s faces two big challenges, the story said - one was the fact that it does not offer any online shopping at a time when e-grocery is booming, and second, it has a limited grocery selection.  The piece suggested that Trader Joe's needed to address both issues, and maybe even start stocking things like diapers:  "The company could focus on getting shoppers to buy and spend more by finessing its product range. It could start selling diapers, for example.  Merchandising and marketing efforts could also help. The company could show you how to make a whole week’s worth of lunches from its frozen foods."

    I commented:

    I'm not sure I entirely agree.

    I'll buy that Trader Joe's ought to be trying to figure out an online component.  I wouldn't even be surprised if they are working on such an initiative, but don't want to release it until the offering is fully marinated.

    But expanding the product selection to sell things like diapers?  (Trader Poo?)  I don't think so.  Retailers that are special dilute their value propositions when they do the same things that everybody else is doing.  They may generate some new sales, but the loss of a differentiated image could be a much bigger problem in the long run.

    One MNB reader responded:

    We stopped shopping at TJ's altogether once C19 hit - having moved 100% to outlets that provide home delivery. Previously we shopped there 1x per week. Perhaps we are an anomaly but we don't expect to return until they can deliver.

    Related - we've completely stopped shopping at Whole Foods too. Back in late March / early April it was just about impossible to schedule a delivery via Prime Now - so we simply started shopping elsewhere.

    Two major retailers that we supported heartily pre-covid are now entirely in the rear view mirror.

    I haven't been in a Trader Joe's since the pandemic started, either … but a lot of the reason is that there always seemed to be a line.  (When driving by and seeing it, I'd always think of the old Yogi Berra line:  "No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.")

    As for Whole Foods and Prime Now, I've had the opposite experience - except for a couple of weeks when it was hard to get a pickup window (a problem alleviated with a little patience), I've found this to be a service that has changed my shopping behavior significantly.

    From MNB reader Monte Stowell:

    Oh contraire Bloomberg. Trader Joe’s has something that a lot of retailers only wish they had. The product selection and the overall shopping experience is what sets Trader Joe’s apart from any other grocery retailer. Those who shop at Trader Joe’s will drive the extra miles to buy their needs at Trader Joe’s. The shopping experience and selection of products that differentiate them from other big box grocery retailers ensures that Trader Joe’s will be fine for a long time. Customer loyalty is a rare commodity to have and to hold onto.

    And from another reader:

    I agree with you about the diapers. I do think showing how you could plan your week's menu using Trader Joe's items is a good idea. I typically shop there when the mood strikes as the one in my area is a 45 minute car ride away. I like Trader Joe's but find it hard to do all my grocery shopping there. They may need to finesse their selections but I think it would work better if the finessing was around how to build your menu at Trader Joe's and less around what non-food items can be added.

    From another reader:

    Trader Joes is more of a convenience store and the pandemic is creating more and more "grocery" shoppers who want less trips and more stuff.  I think that is the true issue for them.  Online retailing would seem ideal for them as their shopper base knows their product lines well, and there isn't going to be a quality control issue with fresh items that have variables attached like in a normal supermarket setting.  (fresh meats, produce, etc...)  

    And from MNB reader Todd Ruberg:

    I agree with your point on Trade Joe’s differentiation.  Plus, an article like the Bloomberg one makes it sound like you can just snap your fingers and add a category like diapers.  In that case, it is a high cube, high velocity category that requires significant space - in stores, trucks, distribution centers.  Space that would have to come from something else in an already purposely small outlet.  It’s a category that must be in stock … so limited space challenges that.     All in all … a pretty uninformed comment…

    Published on: August 26, 2020

    I'm happy to announce that on Friday, August 28, at 6 pm EDT / 3 pm PDT, we're going to do it again … an MNB Virtual Happy Hour.

    The folks at GMDC/Retail Tomorrow have once again agreed to sponsor and host it.  Hopefully, you can put it on your calendar … choose a libation for Happy Hour … and then prop up your laptop or warm up your computer on Friday, August 28, for a conversation and a drink.  (You don't have to let me know you're coming, but it would be nice to know.)

    To join us, click here.