retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The Wall Street Journal writes that Costco "said demand surged in its latest quarter as the U.S. economy began to rev up, but the club-store chain warned it is facing higher costs for everything from workers to imported cheese.

"The company on Thursday said it generated $45.28 billion in revenue for its quarter that ended May 9, up almost 22% from the same period last year."  Costco also "reported a profit of $1.22 billion for the quarter. That was up from $838 million during the year-earlier quarter."


•  Crain's Chicago Business reports that healthy ending company "Farmer’s Fridge is launching its fresh, pre-made meals and snacks in 18 Jewel-Osco locations in the city and suburbs, as the Chicago-based startup continues to expand its wholesale business.

"It recently started selling products on shelves in about 25 Target stores as well, said founder and CEO Luke Saunders. The expansion into retail was spurred, of course, by the pandemic, as people started eating lunch at home."

The story notes that "Farmer’s Fridge got its start selling products from signature vending machines, many of which were placed in central business districts and depended on lunch crowds. During the pandemic, it turned off most of its fridges and began delivering menu items directly to consumer’s homes. Selling at grocery stores, which have seen sales skyrocket, was undoubtedly the next move."


•  Seattle-based PCC Community Markets said that this week it is "rolling out the addition of self-check kiosks across the co-op. PCC felt it critical to provide this option, in addition to full-service checkout and delivery via Instacart, to offer shoppers a range of solutions that best meet their needs. All kiosks will be cash-free and accept all forms of contactless electronic payment, including credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

"The addition of the kiosks comes in direct response to member and shopper feedback for contactless options and to meet changing shopping behaviors."


•  From the New York Times:

"Gap has long been among the biggest operators of mall stores in the country. But after the pandemic, it will have a much smaller presence in traditional indoor malls as it closes Gap and Banana Republic locations and bets on the expansion of its Old Navy and Athleta brands.

"'What we have accelerated now is the digital dominance of the business — our e-commerce business is about half of sales for the Gap brand, maybe even more in certain markets — and the restructuring away from real estate that has been obsoleted,' Sonia Syngal, chief executive of Gap Inc., said in an interview on Thursday.

"She added that only about 17 percent of the company’s overall sales came from indoor malls in the first quarter."

The Times writes that "the shifts reflect changing consumer behavior and the widening gap between America’s best and worst malls, which was exacerbated by the pandemic. Gap has said it expects 80 percent of revenue from Gap and Banana Republic to come from “off-mall, strip, outlet and online formats” by 2024."


•  The Associated Press reports that "the US Postal Service wants to raise rates on first-class stamps from 55 cents to 58 cents as part of a host of price hikes and service changes designed to reduce debt for the beleaguered agency.

"The request for the changes, which would take effect Aug. 29, was filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission. It includes price hikes for first-class mail, magazines and marketing mailers."