retail news in context, analysis with attitude

From this morning's Wall Street Journal:

"U.S. unemployment claims heald steady at 884,000 last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, a sign the labor-market recovery is losing steam six months after the coronavirus pandemic struck the US.

"Claims have fallen from a March peak of about 7 million but remain at historically high levels—above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000."

•  CNN reports that "McDonald's will test out reusable cups in the United Kingdom next year in an effort to address the environmental toll of disposable cups and appeal to customers who are increasingly concerned with wasteful single-use packaging.

"It's a rinse-and-repeat cycle: Once customers finish their coffee or tea, they return their mug to a McDonald's restaurant or designated drop-off point. The mugs are washed and readied for the next customer.

"But there's a catch: Customers have to pay a small deposit, the exact amount to be determined, for the mug. They'll get the money back once they return the vessel. The program isn't mandatory: The restaurants participating in the pilot program will also continue to serve drinks in disposable cups."

•  From the New York Times:

"The number of high school students regularly using e-cigarettes dropped significantly over the past year, after several years of soaring use, according to a new government survey of teenagers.

But the data suggested that even greater progress may have been stymied by the growing popularity of a new product — disposable e-cigarettes, which, under a loophole in federal regulations, are still allowed to be sold in youth-friendly flavors.

"The shifting trends were captured by the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, an annual look at teen use of tobacco-related products, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year’s data collection was less thorough than in years past because the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the full survey cycle.

"Still, enough data was collected to show some distinct trends. Among high school students, 19.6 percent reported using an e-cigarette at least once in the prior 30 days, down sharply from 27.5 percent in 2019. That amounted to a decline of 1 million regular users — to 3 million, down from 4.1 million a year earlier."