business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the Associated Press:

"Slightly fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market continues to stand out as one of the strongest segments of the US economy.

"Applications for jobless aid for the week ending August 13 fell by 2,000 to 250,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Last week’s number, which raised some eyebrows, was revised down by 10,000.

"The four-week average for claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week volatility, fell by 2,750 to 246,750.

"The number of Americans collecting traditional unemployment benefits increased by 7,000 the week that ended August 6, to 1.43 million. That’s the most since early April."

•  The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story about a new Grocery Outlet franchise opening in North Philadelphia, serving as "one of the linchpins of a neighborhood’s revival."

The owner of the store is a man named Donta Rose, who was working for Grocery Outlet in store design.  "He saw the list of future stores and noticed that one would open at 21st Street and Ridge Avenue in the Sharswood section of North Philadelphia."

“That’s where we’re from,” he tells the Inquirer.  “I know the neighborhood. I know how unique this neighborhood is, because if you go four blocks over, you’re on Temple’s campus, and if you go five blocks down, you’re in Brewerytown. It became really important for me to be in a community that we’re familiar with.”

The story says that "Rose scraped together savings and obtained what he called 'a nice, hefty loan' to buy in. On July 26, he helped cut the ribbon of a $5 million Grocery Outlet store, one of the linchpins of a neighborhood’s revival. The store has a parking garage, but it will be a boon to residents who need to walk or rely on rides of more than a mile to shop for groceries, beyond corner stores and produce vendors … Grocery Outlet, which has more than 400 stores nationwide, is providing support. And Rose is counting on help from his extended network of family and friends, including his sister Toni and friend Nafis Muhammad, who will manage the store, which has hired many of the 30-person staff from the neighborhood."

•  The New York Times reports that department store Kohl's plans "to open Sephora shops in all of its 1,165 stores, positioning its beauty unit for growth.  By the end of the year, Sephoras will be in place at 600 Kohl’s locations. In 2023, the plan is to open 250 more. The Sephora spaces are 2,500-square-feet shop-in-shops stocked with the products one would find at a full-line Sephora store. Kohl’s sees the partnership generating $2 billion in annual sales by 2025."

The move comes as Kohl's comes out of what has ben a tough year, including a proxy fight and a failed attempt to sell the company.  A Wall Street Journal headline says it all - "Kohl’s Should Focus on Shoppers Over Shareholders."  If it does that, maybe it has a chance of reclaiming some level of relevance … and clearly, an expanded partnership with Sephora is seen as part of that.