business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we quoted a Benjamin Lorr op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times in which he wrote about the Kroger-Albertsons merger:

“The supermarket industry is trapped in an unsustainable model, "chasing higher and higher volume to fund cheaper and cheaper prices. Which by necessity means grocers are always looking over their shoulder at their competition. Getting underpriced is an existential threat. Growing bigger is your only chance at survival.”

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

Wasn’t Jeff Bezos the person who said, Your margin is my opportunity."

It was.

Also on the subject of the merger, one MNB reader wrote:

I see this merger in a direction that will put increased pressure on the store level ops which in turn will have a detrimental effect on their labor force.  I am not familiar with Kroger, however I am with A/S.  The A/S side has no help in the stores now and perceive that automation is path to the future.  Unless their store op direction changes the Market Baskets and Shop Rites of the food industry will eat their lunch.   

Another MNB reader wrote:

Your comments today on Lorr's LA Times piece immediately reminded me of Seth Godin's thinking on the race to the bottom:  you may just win.

And MNB reader Andy Casey wrote about competitive concerns:

These days I’m not even certain how to define local competition – I frequently buy groceries from a chain that doesn’t have a store within 250 miles. 

Fair point.

One line I often use in speeches is, "Competition does not know borders, nor inherent limitations. Market share and trade area analyses may become obsolete constructs."

Old metrics need not apply.

We took note the other day of a Bloomberg story this week about how one c-store chain is changing for the future:  "Green Thumb Industries Inc., one of the largest US cannabis producers, signed a deal with Circle K, the global convenience-store chain, to sell licensed marijuana at its Florida gasoline retailers. The partnership will begin next year with 10 of the company’s 600 locations in the state, Green Thumb said."

One MNB reader responded:

This scares the bejeepers out of me.  It is bad enough with drunk or impaired drivers now.  I can not imagine the impact of marijuana being so easily available as well.  All this does is reduce the perception of marijuana being an impairment inducing drug and that more people will feel they can handle the impairment factor produced.  Questions some intelligent regulators should ask.  “ How long does it take to recharge at these fast charge stations?  What do you think people that smoke pot will do while they wait???”  Not a good future.  I can just see the new ads,  Stop in at your local C- Store for your “Charge and Buzz” discount by using your loyalty card. Limited time offer.   Ugh!

"Charge & Buzzed" isn't such a bad promo line.  Or how, about, "Now you and your car can get buzzed at the same time."

Engadget reported the other day that Amazon "has struck a deal with the NFL for Prime Video to livestream a yearly match on Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving. The first game airs November 24th, 2023 at about 3PM Eastern, with the teams to be announced once the league shares its schedule for that season … Amazon and the NFL aren't shy about the reasoning. On top of creating a yearly tradition, this will give you a reason to visit Amazon (and subscribe to Prime) right as the holiday shopping frenzy kicks off. You may come for the football, but stay to buy toys or an Echo speaker."

One MNB reader wrote:

Great marketing idea.  Only issue I have is that the coverage of TNF is not as good as other stations.  The visual is off.  It looks almost cartoonish and we are still seeing as many or more commercials.  Oh well, I guess I will be in the minority,  as usual.

I'm not sure you're in the minority on this.  But it'll probably allow Amazon to sell better routers and wifi extenders.

On another subject - two stories we ran yesterday - MNB reader Dale Tillotson wrote:

Two stories in a row - one about a turkey shortage followed by whiskey in the UK.  You should have combined them into one:  Wild Turkey.


We had a story yesterday about how "United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) announced a new deal with digital coupon provider CoupDog."

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

I’m amazed that you didn’t already have the rights to the name “CoupDog”, given that some of your younger readers or college students at PSU (or some of your younger family members) might prefer to address you in that way…

My kids have long referred to me as "K-Dog."  (Among other things, I suspect, depending on the familial mood…)

And finally, regarding the MLB postseason, one MNB reader wrote:

Will baseball be over by Thanksgiving?    And they wonder why interest in the non-coastal markets is close to nil.

Bang the trash can slowly!! 

Not sure Houston can be considered a coastal market.

This wouldn't have been my choice for a World Series matchup, but every one of the teams I was rooting for got beaten.

I may not be as Astros or Phillies fan, but both teams won decisively, the games have been largely riveting, and I think the Series has the chance of being really exciting.

And FYI … the latest the World Series can go, if it lasts the maximum seven games, is Saturday, November 5.  As I've said here before, I'm good with that - when I was little, my fervent wish was to be able to watch baseball on my birthday.  This year, maybe that will be possible.