retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that FedEx is "closing offices and parking aircraft to offset declining volumes of packages moving around the world … Chief Executive Raj Subramaniam, who took over in June, said he was taking actions to reduce costs including freezing hiring, closing 90 FedEx Office locations, parking some cargo aircraft, reducing Sunday ground operations and closing five corporate offices. FedEx didn’t say if it was cutting its workforce."

•  The Chicago Sun Times reports this morning that the Chicago City Council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection has approved an ordinance that will enable two-year test of "robotic personal delivery devices described as 'beverage coolers on wheels' (that) will soon be delivering more restaurant meals and groceries in and around the campus of the University of Illinois Chicago."

Starship Technologies, the story says, "was authorized to conduct a two-year pilot in an area bounded by Halsted Street, Ogden Avenue, Roosevelt Road and the Eisenhower Expressway."  The vehicles weigh just 75 pounds without product, and have a top speed of four miles per hour;  they've been used in test mode on campus for some time, and this represents an expansion of the pilot.