business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The Sun reports that Aldi is going to begin rolling out self-checkout lanes to its stores across the country.

The announcement came on X, the social media formerly known as Twitter, when Aldi responded to a customer's complaint that bit was behind the technological times.

"We're actually rolling out self-checkouts nationwide," Aldi said in response.

"Hopefully it'll be ready in your store soon."

•  From the Washington Post:

"In the coming weeks, a Giant Food market in D.C. will clear its beauty and health aisles of all national labels. No more Tide, Colgate or Advil, only store brands. Shoppers also will have to present their receipts to an employee before exiting the store.

It’s the regional supermarket chain’s most overt gambit against the rampant theft that’s plaguing retailers of all sizes. It’s also a potential last-ditch effort to avoid shutting down the unprofitable store on Alabama Avenue — the only major grocer east of the Anacostia River in Ward 8.

"'We want to continue to be able to serve the community, but we can’t do so at the level of significant loss or risk to our associates that we have today,' said Giant president Ira Kress."

The Post notes that "shoplifting, organized crime and violence have become significant concerns for regional and national retailers. Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s, Dollar Tree, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Ulta are among those that flagged shrink — the depletion of inventory caused by something other than sales — during their second-quarter earnings calls. Growing losses have spurred giants like Walmart to shutter locations."

•  It was reported by numerous media outlets last week that Wegmans has decided to discontinue its private label soft drink label, WPOP, because the brand's ingredients, which include aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, are not consistent with its “Food You Feel Good About” mandate.

Aspartame has been identified as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO), though this is not a conclusion that is universally held.

I suspect that at some level, Wegmans also was seeing diminishing returns from the brand - people are drinking less soda than ever, and maybe those that do are showing a preference for national brands.  Add these factors to the ingredients issue, and Wegmans probably decided that the juice wasn't worth the squeeze.

•  From the New York Times:

"Trader Joe’s has issued a recall of a brand of black bean tamales, the sixth item that the popular grocery chain has recalled since July.

"The company said last week that it had recalled packages of Texas Tamale Company Gourmet Black Bean Tamales because they might contain undeclared milk … The affected tamales were filled with white cheese and hatch green chiles instead of black beans, the F.D.A. said."

The story notes that "customers have been warned in recent weeks that other products might have been contaminated with rocks, insects and metal.

"In July, Trader Joe’s said that it had removed cookies because they may have contained rocks and its Unexpected Broccoli Cheddar Soup because it may have contained insects. On Aug. 17, Trader Joe’s said that its multigrain crackers with sunflower and flax seeds were recalled because of potential metal contamination.

"The recalls have led to some concern among fans of the grocery chain, which has more than 500 stores across the country and is known among loyal customers as a hub for unique snacks and ready-to-eat meals. Its popularity has even spawned Trader Joe’s food review Instagram accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers."

Trader Joe's is fond of using alternative names for its various private label products, such as Trader Jose's, Trader Giotto's, Trader Ming's, and Trader Jacques.  Maybe it is time for a new name - Trader Oops.

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"U.S. employers added 187,000 jobs last month, while payrolls in June and July were revised down a combined 110,000, the Labor Department said. Over those three months, a modest 150,000 jobs were added monthly on average, down from an average gain of 238,000 in March through May.

"The unemployment rate was 3.8% in August, up from 3.5% in July—reflecting more Americans seeking work.

"Still, the job market remains tight enough that most employers are holding on to workers, rather than laying them off, and are paying them more."

•  From Axios:

"New business listings on Yelp have exceeded 2019 levels every month this year, thanks to a surge in travel, events and get-togethers … 84,000 new businesses popped up on Yelp in the first seven months of this year — compared to 389,000 over the same period last year. That's a roughly 25% increase year-over-year, and a 46% increase from 2019.

"Openings increased across every category, driven by hotels and travel (+39%), home services (+37%), auto (+27%), event services (+27%), and local services businesses (+23%)."

The story goes on:  "Geographically, California, Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia saw the most openings.

"Florida overtook Texas, moving to second after placing third last year."

In addition, "Each month of 2023 has seen more business openings from underrepresented communities, compared to last year.

"LGBTQ-owned businesses (+33%), Black-owned (+28%) and Latin-owned (+28%) business openings grew above the national average (+25%).

"Women-owned businesses are up 19%. Asian-owned businesses gained 13%."