retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The Associated Press reports that "The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since mid-November, but still low by historic standards.

"US jobless claims climbed by 23,000 last week to 230,000, the Department of Labor said Thursday. The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week blips, rose nearly 6,300 to almost 211,000."

•  Winn-Dixie said yesterday that it "is helping its customers save on groceries by offering deeper discounts on more than 150 most-shopped products. As part of the grocer’s 'Down Down' program, Winn-Dixie customers will save more than 15% on average when shopping items marked in store by the red hand on signs and tags throughout the store."

I suspect we're going to se a lot of these kinds of promotions around the country, as retailers tap into consumer concerns about inflation.  These moves also are going to be necessary as mainstream retailers look to counter the value-driven argument being made by dollar stores and limited assortment stores, which have made discounts a central part of their identity.

•  The Wall Street Journal has a story about how, "despite the record number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S., fueled by the Omicron variant, people have been flocking to beach resorts, ski lodges and other leisure destinations. Christmas Day hotel occupancy reached a record for that day at 47.2%, just above the previous one in 2015 of 47%, according to hotel analytics firm STR. Demand continued through the week leading into New Year’s Day."

But there's a challenge:  "With supply chain shortages holding up goods and workers quitting, the industry is having to figure out new ways to be hospitable.

"Hotels have been searching for mini-bottles of shampoo, towels and sheets, cleaning supplies, appliances and furniture - even plastic cups to use for serving frozen pina coladas and Champagne flutes for celebrations.

"Some hotels are getting creative, such as attempting to extend the life of towels by placing single-use packs of facial wipes in rooms for makeup removal. Other managers have sent staffers to nearby big-box retailers such as Target or Bed Bath & Beyond for last-minute purchases of sheets and feather pillows."

•  Fox News reports that "the U. S. Food and Drug Administration is ending decades of regulating just what constitutes French dressing.

"It comes after a nearly 24-year battle by the Association for Dressings and Sauces.

"The trade group had argued that the limited definition of what could go into a product called French Dressing blocked innovation and more flexibility of products on the market to meet current consumer tastes.

"The FDA established a standard of identity for French dressing on Aug. 12, 1950.  The standard was amended several times in the 1960s and 1970s."