retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, we took note of a Yahoo Finance report that "The Back Space, a newly launched retail spine and neck care subsidiary of IMAC Holdings, Inc., has partnered with Walmart.   The unique partnership will make it possible for the Company to provide spinal health and wellness services through its own branded locations directly within select Walmart locations."

I commented:

This strikes me as a baby step on Walmart's part toward the model that I talked about here a few weeks ago when I interviewed Bhavdeep Singh about his new HealthQuarters concept in New York City, which actually offers the promise of accessible preventative care with a strikingly retail component.

One MNB reader wrote:

Although I agree this is indeed a baby step for Walmart, it points to two important indicators: 1) Walmart (and other retailers) must look for uncommon partnerships to provide unique and differentiated value to its shoppers; and 2) retailing is no longer just about “products,” but rather it is about “products AND services.” These may be two of the most important ways brick-and-mortar can remain relevant with consumers.

Totally agree.  As someone once said (here, I think), it is important to be more than just a source of product - retailers now have to be a resource for consumers.

From another reader:

This direction could be a very positive way to provide accessible healthcare to outlying communities.  As long as it is quality care, it could dramatically change the consolidation landscape that doctors and hospitals have been moving to over the years.  I personally like the idea.

We wrote about a Bloomberg report last week that "some high-ranking Black managers at Walmart say career advancement is difficult at the retail chain and they wouldn’t recommend working there, a recent internal survey commissioned by the company found … A majority of those surveyed gave mediocre rankings for career satisfaction," with the overwhelming sense that they did not have the same support systems that non-Black executives do.

One MNB reader reacted:

It must be comforting for those who don't make it up the corporate ladder to have a convenient excuse to fall back on.  Failure is so much more-acceptable when it's not really your fault.

And from another reader:

You have to perform at an exceptional level to maintain your position.  That is bad?   Heavier emphasis on recruiting from the outside vs developing internal talent.  Isn’t the job opportunity process one that seeks “best qualified” for the position.  HR has traditionally had to open job postings to the outside for that reason, less they become a target for not sourcing from a broad enough pool.  So that too is bad?  Unequal access to career growth opportunities?  Sounds to me like if this was the case, the NAACP would be all over this.  And finally,   conform to unspoken social norms.  I see this as a whine.  What is wrong with having to conform to presenting yourself in a professional manner?  If you need to show your individuality, do it on your own time.  If you work for me, I have expectations.  Present yourself well.  Do your job, well.  AND take the initiative to better yourself.  Don’t wait around for it to be given to you.  I know a lot of diverse people that have done exactly that, and they didn’t stand around and wait to become successful.  Stop the victim mentality and acquire the personal drive to succeed. 

I think you miss the point that the study seems to be making - that the expectations may be unequal, as well as the support systems in place, for Black folks.

The story made the point that the study was of a limited sample, and that Walmart seems to be open to having the conversation and rectifying inequities.

These folks didn't sound like they were whining to me.  Sounded like they were giving honest answers to questions they were being asked.  

Maybe some companies wouldn't ask the questions because they wouldn't like the answers.  But I actually give Walmart credit for considering the possibility that its culture may be imperfect, and initiating the research necessary to find out how.  How Walmart proceeds from here will say much.

Yesterday, CNBC reported that Dollar General, following a pattern set by retailers that include Amazon, Walmart and CVS, is signaling a major health care play by looking to recruit a chief medical officer and expanding its HBC offerings in-store.

I commented:

There would seem to be little question that if Dollar General wants to have an impact on how people in the US consume health care, it has the footprint and muscle to do so.   And the idea that it could connect food and HBC products in a compelling way makes a lot of sense to me.

On another subject, from an MNB reader:

Subway needs to upgrade their entire image.  It is great that they are upgrading their ingredient line up. (I think the bar was pretty low to begin with.)  Wouldn’t it be a great idea to use their size to source local and become “better for you” option rather then the belly filler option they currently are.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), according to a government posting, has "finalized a new rule that will crack down on marketers who make false, unqualified claims that their products are Made in the USA. Under the rule, marketers making unqualified Made in USA claims on labels should be able to prove that their products are “all or virtually all” made in the United States."

I wrote:

Good.  I am sick and tired of companies making false claims with impunity, thinking that they won't get caught, and certainly won't get penalized.

This is one of those scenarios in which marketers largely know what they're doing, but figure that they can get away with it because nobody has been paying attention.

Lie to the consumer, and you ought to get nailed.

Hang 'em high.

One MNB reader wrote:

The rules have to be specific so that manufacturers know what will be considered made in the USA.  Will foreign components assembled into the final product in the US be allowed?  Will US made formulas or products packaged in components from foreign sources be OK,  or will the package have to say assembled in the USA but may contain foreign components?  I once saw a huge recall due to a small packaging component from a foreign source on a US made product that was assembled and packaged in the US because it said it was made in the USA.   There are hundreds of products that are assembled in the US with some component that may come from Mexico, Canada, China or components that come from China that are included in parts or ingredients that come from Mexico and Canada for instance.  It is a real Pandora’s box that need to be clarified if the FDA is planning to issue heavy fines.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Totally agree.  I wonder if this to will affect the car industry.  How much of your car was “Made in America”? 

MNB reader Bob Thomas wrote:

“All or virtually all” made in the United States" is a very difficult bar to have.  With supply chains that run around the world, components (or chips) can knock a product out of the ability to use the Made in the USA sticker.  What if you buy a Chinese component from a US distributor?  I once did a test in South Africa.  A retail store had the same exact product available for sale.  One had a US flag on it.  The product with the flag vastly outsold the product without one.  In my experience in international sales the Made in the USA sticker is a major selling point.  It gives products instant credibility.  “Made in China” does the opposite.  Some companies are using “designed in the USA” but that sends consumers to look for where it was made.  Maybe the FTC should look at content and then say if it has XX% US content it can use the Made in the USA label.

Yesterday we noted that "public health officials are saying that the vast majority of all new Covid-19 coronavirus cases - more than 99 percent - are affecting people who have not been vaccinated."  Which led me to make this observation:

What if insurance companies established a policy - no pun intended - that if you had access to a vaccine and refused to get it (as opposed to being unable to get it because of age or geography or a health condition), then they will not cover expenses incurred during treatment for the coronavirus?  (According to HealthCare Finance, the "average cost of hospital care for COVID-19 ranges from $51,000 to $78,000, based on age.")   If you don't follow public healthy experts' recommendations, then you have to cover the expenses yourself … and could, if you don't have that kind of cash lying around, lose your house, savings and other assets.

And here's an ever bigger question.  If an insurance company that is publicly traded made that announcement, do you think its stock would go up or down in the immediate aftermath?  I think its stock would go up.

One MNB reader reacted:

Just wanted to give you another idea on how to get more people vaccinated.  Just put a deadline for getting it and then take it off the market.  Actually, this is my husband’s idea.  But think about it- how many times has there been a run on items when it is in short supply or off the market???  I’m thinking Cabbage Patch Dolls, marijuana before it became legal in many places, gasoline, etc.  People go crazy trying to get things that aren’t easily and readily available.  There could become a covid vaccine black market!

And from another:

The stock question is a good one.  I think a better one is, will our premiums go down?  I don’t think so.

And finally, MNB reader Chuck Loyd offered a timely lesson:

I just wanted to offer a little Soccer scoring lesson for you...For the record, the correct result of the Euro 2020 goes in the book as a tie - Italy 1 - England 1 with Italy advancing and declared the Champion as a result of a 3-2 advantage on PK's in a penalty kick shootout.  Although it doesn't change the result, Italy did not win 2-1. 

While it's certainly not yet on a level as our national pastime Baseball, Soccer continues to grow exponentially as more folks learn the rules, play, and follow the game internationally through events like the World Cup, Euro Championship and Soccer leagues home and abroad.  This is especially in light of the way MLB continues to lose a younger audience and alter its traditional rules.  Baseball is timeless and should remain that way - only move the post-season game start times up for our younger viewers.