retail news in context, analysis with attitude

It all started with an email in which an MNB reader expressed the opinion that "fear-mongering is the new news," and that the pandemic "should not grind our lives to a halt … We should be able to function and survive without ruining our jobs, relationships, travel & recreation, and everything else that makes life worthwhile. Politicians who believe that shutdowns are necessary and try and take away our freedoms need to be voted out of office. They obviously have a hidden agenda. We need to be able to live our lives and not have to hide in a closet!"

I took his point, but disagreed - I said that shutdowns are only necessary when people don't act like mature adults and wear masks, wash their hands and practice appropriate physical distancing.  It also means making sacrifices sometimes - I cited the case of my son, who lives in Chicago (where cases are spiking) and decided not to come home for Thanksgiving because he did not want to risk bring home the virus.

He came back at me in an email I posted yesterday:

Thank you for confirming our views. You are living in hiding, and you might think you are doing the right thing. I guess when someone has a different opinion that doesn’t agree with yours ... then they are selfish and unAmerican? 

Our kids are coming home for the Holidays .. these years are more important to us as we get order since there may be fewer opportunities. Temps will be talked and masks will be worn... common sense.... but well worth the effort .

To which I responded:

I hope you find their visit worth the effort, and that, in the end, you find not just that there are fewer opportunities going forward, but fewer years because of your reckless behavior.

When I re-read that statement now, I think I understand why I got the following email:

What a statement - you hope people die because they want to be with family? You are a prick. Plain and simple. You and your family have chosen not to be together - good for you - so no one else should and you hope they die because of it.

You are a microcosm of everything that is wrong with society as a whole.  Attempt to shame those who think different than you. ANTIFA with a smile. Shut down - metaphorically as well as actually - this is your go to.

A man neutered. Not a pretty sight. 

Let me just reply by saying that I am mortified by the thought that anyone would've believed that I was hoping anyone would die.  I was actually trying to say the opposite - that I hoped he would not regret his decision and that his holiday get-together would not be proven to be a spreader event.

I should've written it this way:

I hope you find their visit worth the effort, and that, in the end, you don't find that as a result there are fewer opportunities and fewer years because of your behavior.

Still harsh, I suppose.  Certainly judgmental.  But I don't think any more judgmental of this reader and people who agree with him than their opinion of me is.

I changed the passage after I got the above email.  My original language was clumsy, and I have only myself to blame for that.  I work without a net, and sometimes I fall.  Like this time.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.


On another subject (thank goodness!) - Amazon's new pharmacy offerings - from MNB reader Mike Bach:

Good interview with Furphy.  Amazon, being imbedded inside retailers, is also a membership grab opportunity. I do think they need to lead from the front and install Amazon Pharmacy in every Whole Foods store.  Why wouldn’t Kohls, who is already processing Amazon returns, consider this to bolster their traffic?

Most company sponsored health care requires 90 day mail-in after the initial fill at a local drug store, for long term use.  Its ingrained in the culture of Americans. Its now possible, through prime, that 90 day scrips are not necessary, improving the cash flow and supply chain for everyone.

The biggest downside I see is that some Rx users need to have some counsel with Pharmacist so the easier this can be made, the better.  Express Scripts and others do little of this as well.

Other downside – what does CVS and Walgreens do to reinvent themselves?  ( “Timing is everything”; maybe Larry Merlo is getting out at the right time?)  That’s a lot of stores are now becoming a little less essential in our lives. Beauty, photo and greeting cards are not massive trip creating categories. One already has to watch for expired goods inside these stores because traffic is down.

I’m already seeing real estate investors, which have been getting a guaranteed payment for investing in specific sites, to being told by Walgreens they will move their store unless the investor agrees to a lower payment. A good site means investor can say “I don’t agree” and force Walgreens hand.  Not so with the poorer sites. 


Addressing the coronavirus from another angle, one MNB reader wrote:

Reading that Sen. Grassley had tested positive I was curious if there were any COVID statistics of the number of positive cases in Congress by political party?  I found my answer … Here is the breakdown:

Senate - 6 positive cases, all Republicans   

House - 21 positive cases, 14 Republicans, 7 Democrats.

This includes Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-7) who was diagnosed with presumed coronavirus infection but did not get a COVID test and Resident Commissioner Jennifer González-Colón (Puerto Rico's At Large District) who, as a delegate with limited voting privileges, can currently vote in committee and in certain votes on the House floor, but not if their vote would be decisive.


On the subject of consumers choosing retailers based on how they deal with data issues, MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:

These issues have been around since the earliest days of data based marketing and smart companies pay serious attention not only to getting the policy right but communicating both that and the benefits to customers. There is a real difference when your local supermarket lets you know items you buy frequently are on sale and for example, when people casually Google something and find themselves inundated with offers for weeks afterward. Relevance is key and why the former is seen as helpful but the latter is just seen as intrusive, and frankly, weird.