retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From the Associated Press:

"Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week, but the previous week’s number was revised upward significantly, with claims breaching the 250,000 level in back-to-back weeks for the first time in more than eight months.

"Applications for jobless aid for the week ending July 23 declined by 5,000 to 256,000 from the previous week’s 261,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number of claims for the week of July 16 was revised upward by 10,000 from the previous estimate of 251,000."

•  The Washington Post reports on a Hendersonville, North Carolina, Chick-fil-A franchise where management decided to ask for volunteers to work in its new Drive Thru Express, saying it would pay them in food rather than in actual cash money.

The Post writes that "the store has been met with backlash for appearing to ignore the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the long-standing federal law that states how employers must pay their employees for all of the hours they work. The Hendersonville location, which is run by a franchisee, responded to the online blowback by saying the 'volunteer-based opportunity' was intended for people who 'think it’s a good fit for them,' and argued it was different from full- or part-time employment."

Chick-fil-A said yesterday that program was not endorsed by the company, that "it was a program at an individually owned restaurant," and now has been ended.

I know we had a story earlier this week about chicken nuggets are the new hot thing … but this is ridiculous.

•  We've reported this week about how fast food chain Raising Cane's bought Mega Millions lottery tickets for all of its 50,000 employees - a $100,000 expense - when the lottery went to more than $800 million.  Nobody won … and now company co-CEO AJ Kumaran has done it again, buying another ticket for each of the company's employees.

The next drawing is later today.  The prize is $1.1 billion.

“Look, I hear from our crew members all the time, and things are really tough out there,” Kumaran tells the Washington Post. “Whether they’re pumping gas or buying groceries, they’re feeling it and it’s hard. So this was an opportunity to have fun but at the same time, hopefully make a little bit of extra money for our people.”