retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we took note of the CNN report that a man armed with a five guns entered an Atlanta Publix Supermarket Wednesday, and was arrested and charged with reckless conduct. The incident came just days after a mass shooting at a Boulder, Colorado, King Soopers left 10 people, including four store employees and one policeman, dead, and eight days after a series of shooting at three Atlanta-area spas.

I commented:

One has to wonder if we're going to see a move by retailers all over the country to beef up their security because of concerns that the events of the last few weeks portends terrible reality with which they all may have to deal.

Are we going to have to walk through airport-style metal detectors in order to enter a supermarket?  Will there be the obvious presence of armed guards?  Will some of the plexiglass that became omnipresent during the pandemic be converted to bulletproof glass?  I'm not sure any of this is out of the question, especially as businesses look for ways to assure both employees and customers that their stores are safe harbors.

One other note.  If physical stores are not perceived as being safe by shoppers, then the acceleration of e-commerce and e-grocery may in fact continue in the same way that it did as the pandemic became a fact of our lives.

One MNB reader wrote:

This situation I know about  - 6 years ago the retailer I work for updated plans to execute in case of such shooting emergency etc. Sadly in the last 6 years we have not heard one more single word about it. So we are open game especially the newer employees who have received zero training. 

From another reader:

My mother took me, as a child, to shop for groceries at Bi-Lo in Greenville SC in the 70's - they always had free popcorn for the kids and I can remember seeing a security guard sitting above the office on a perch with a rifle mounted on the wall behind him..Made me feel safe....a little "carry a big stick" never hurts.

On the subject of hazard pay mandates, one MNB reader wrote:

The thing that has baffled me throughout these discussion of hazard pay mandates is that I have not seen any of these local governments pass hazard pay mandates for police or fire/rescue personnel. 

In my opinion, if anyone has been exposed to the most danger in this pandemic, it has been those front line workers.  Is it because the optics are bad due to all of the negative press related to police?  Is the barrier that the politicians would be forced to make choices regarding funding (increased taxes or reductions of other services) that would be politically unfavorable for them?  They appear to be imposing things on businesses that they themselves are unwilling or unable to deal with.  I also don’t understand why no one has asked this question more broadly. 

I agree with the position you have put forth that this is bad public policy.  I would also argue that it is far beyond the scope of what local governments (or really any government) should be able to do. 

I did a FaceTime video yesterday about how one lesson we've taught by the pandemic - that people don't need to be in the office to get the job done - actually opens the door for people to hire from a much wider pool - they can look for job candidates anywhere and not require them to move.

One MNB reader replied:

I agree completely.... one challenge we have experienced is that it’s complicated when state income taxes are involved.  HR needs to embrace this, or treat all out-of-state employees as consultants where they are responsible for their own taxes.  But I think the future of all employees being in one location may be a thing of the past.... 

And yoga pants may be permanent work attire! (I’ll let you think about the trickle-down effect on the clothing industry).

We took note of an Associated Press report that researchers in Bordeaux, France, are analyzing a unique and expensive bottle of Petrus Pomerol wine - as well as 320 snippets of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines - to evaluate the impact of space flight on them.

I commented:

I'm a little disappointed that they didn't test the impact of space on a bottle of Chateau Picard.  Maybe next time.

But one MNB reader wrote:

 I also wonder what affects space radiation might have on the plants.  Maybe the only vineyard that would “sing for its supper”.

Extra credit for the Little Shop of Horrors reference.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that while from the beginning of the pandemic there were concerns among Americans about gaining the dreaded “quarantine 15,” a year later the reality may actually be worse.

According to the story, "a very small study using objective measures - weight measurements from Bluetooth-connected smart scales - suggests that adults under shelter-in-place orders gained more than half a pound every 10 days."  Which would translate to an almost 20-pound average weight gain since the pandemic began.

I commented, in part:

First of all, this story is all the reason I need never to get a Bluetooth-enabled scale.

I do think that these numbers create an enormous opportunity for people in the food business to be newly relevant to their shoppers.  Whether through the promotion of healthier foods or the creation of programs that develop a sense of community among people trying to lose weight in the after-times, retailers ought to be jumping all over this opportunity.

To be perfectly honest, I count myself among the folks dealing with this issue.  About three years ago I lost 40 pounds, and found myself able to keep about 35 of them off through mildly careful eating and consistent exercise - not just jogging, but also all the day-to-day exercise I'd get walking.  I love to walk.  But over the past year, I've gained about half that weight back - it was the combination of not traveling (not being in Portland, where I tend to get a ton of exercise, last summer was a killer), lazier eating, and then an injury that kept me from jogging for about four months.  (Lousy winter weather didn't help, since the gym was closed.)

And so I'm trying to regain some discipline, especially because I've booked some live speeches for later this year;  my goal is to get down to fighting weight by the time I hit the road again.  People like me are the center of the target when it comes to marketing healthier eating habits.

But I'm still not investing in a Bluetooth-enabled scale.

One MNB reader responded:

Bluetooth scales are the best…. Gives you short term gratification and immediate results when you are trying to lose weight.  Like taking a step at a time…think small every day and you’ll accomplish your weight reduction goal. Diet is the smaller portions…reduce amount of carbs…drink plenty of water and eliminate sugars.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can los… moderate exercise is needed also…keep the skeletal structure strong….

Another MNB reader chimed in:

 You’ve commented a lot over the years on how the retailers need to do a better job of communicating meal ideas.  Tie in that observation with this latest insight and yes, I agree, retailers should be all over this.  Honestly, what would it take for them to utilize the e-commerce boom, to provide healthy meal “solutions” for consumers.  Then add to it, the observation of a lot of the new stay at home generation needs some assistance in meal prep since it was something that wasn’t in their wheelhouse.  It is not a bad thing, just a thing.  This would be a huge opportunity to gain customer loyalty and drive sales.  Especially if they tied it to loyalty programs that offered discounts on the component purchases.  

And from another reader:

I find it fascinating that more people didn’t use this down time to focus on their health.  I managed to lose over 120 pounds during covid by actually being able to focus on portion control and daily exercise routines.  You would think if we can get vaccine’s in peoples arms, that we could really get serious about public health and environment in which we all live, rather than the window dressing we put around the definition of good health, whether in body, in mind, or in spirit.

You're a better man than I.