retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From the Associated Press:

"The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week by 14,000 to 385,000, more evidence that the economy and the job market are rebounding briskly from the coronavirus recession.

"The Labor Department reported Thursday that unemployment claims — a proxy for layoffs — dropped last week from a revised 399,000 the week before. The applications have more or less fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January. Still, they remain high by historic levels: Before the pandemic slammed the United States in March 2020, they were coming in at around 220,000 a week."

At the same time, the Labor Department said this morning that "Employers added 943,000 jobs and jobless rate fell to 5.4% in July … signs of a strong labor market ahead of the Delta Variant threat," the Wall Street Journal reports.  The new surveys were conducted "before some local governments reimposed mask mandates and other restrictions, and before many employers announced they would require employees to wear masks, be vaccinated or get regularly tested."

•  Fox Business reports that "Target is investing $200 million over the next four years to cover the college bills for its U.S. workforce.

"Starting this fall, more than 340,000 full- and part-time employees will be eligible for 'debt-free assistance for select undergraduate degrees, certificates, certifications, free textbooks and more with no out-of-pocket costs," the Minneapolis-based retailer announced Wednesday. 

"Target also plans to pay up to $10,000 annually for master’s programs."

Target says it is working with 250 business-aligned programs at over 40 schools, colleges and universities.

Target is the second mass retailer to announce new educational benefits for employees in recent days;  in late July, Walmart announced a similar program focusing on employee education.

•  Starbucks yesterday emailed customers to remind them that it is once again allowing them "to use their clean, personal reusable cups in-stores," and now, until August 16, "at participating stores, each time a customer orders a beverage to be served in a clean personal reusable cup, Starbucks will donate $1 to Ocean Conservancy to support Ocean Conservancy’s work toward solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it."

“Starbucks is pleased to bring back personal reusable cups to help reduce single-use cup waste and to support those customers who bring in their own cups by contributing to the pioneering work of Ocean Conservancy,” said Michael, Starbucks chief sustainability officer.