retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  Instacart announced that it is expanding its EBT SNAP payment integration to include three new retailers – Publix, The Save Mart Companies, and Price Chopper/Market 32 – a move that will expand availability by more than 1,500 stores in 15 states.

The expansion will mean that Instacart will offer EBT SNAP for online grocery delivery and pickup in more than 4,000 stores across 38 states and Washington D.C.

•  The New York Times reports that "European Union regulators on Friday accused Apple of violating antitrust laws by imposing unfair rules and fees on rival music-streaming services that depend on the App Store to reach customers … The case announced on Friday is part of a broader effort by the European Union to clamp down on so-called gatekeeper companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet. Policymakers are drafting laws that would prevent the tech giants from abusing their market power to harm smaller companies, including how they manage app stores."

According to the story, "Amid growing scrutiny of the tech industry worldwide, the case will be an important test of a government's ability to force one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies to change its behavior. Europe is seen as a global bellwether on tech policy, but Apple has vowed to fight the charges."

The Times writes that "Apple says tight oversight of the App Store ensures customers download high-quality apps, protecting users from viruses, fraud and buggy software. But companies including Spotify, the music streaming service that filed a complaint two years ago that set off the European Union’s investigation, have grown frustrated with its powerful position. They argue it allows Apple to undercut competitors to services like Apple Music and charge an unfair tax on developers.

"The European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation bloc, agreed with Apple’s opponents. Authorities zeroed in on requirements that rival music platforms use Apple’s payment system, forcing them to give Apple a percentage of their subscription fees. The rules have the effect of driving up prices, regulators said, because companies are prevented from offering cheaper payment options and pass on Apple’s fees to customers."