business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB user Burt Flickinger about the Southern California labor situation:

Sorry I missed you in the supermarket aisles in Southern California.

We were out there last weekend & last weekend & this week evaluating the impact of the supermarket strike from the time the stores opened until closing for 7 days straight.

Either I, Lou, or Rob have been in California doing the same 7 times during the last 5 months.

As you presciently pointed out, there are no winners in this strike .

The only surprise I saw was that Wal-Mart's store operations (Division I discount stores & Sams) were uncharacteristically weak in the California corridor from San Diego to Escondido to LA to San Bernadino. There were several real horror stories that must make Sam Walton want to come back from the grave to lead the charge to clean up all the operational incongruencies.

Wal-Mart is stretched far too thin in California and may not have the depth of talent to sustain high store standards in the new supercenters---- starting in LaQuinta in a few weeks.

Also, Target stores' conditions & standards were equally embarrassing relative to the high standards that legendary company founder, George Draper Dayton, set years ago.

Safeway, Albertsons et. al. will test their management teams because the Southern California post strike turnaround will have a geometrically greater degree of difficulty than Albertsons did after the ill advised "absconding" of Lucky {with the fundamentally flawed shotgun "marriage" & conversion to Albertson's retail religion (that Southern California consumers so strongly opposed)}.

Costco & others are both well prepared unwilling to give the customers back to food retail competitors.

As you've perceptively pointed out; there's cause for concern on multi fronts for the foreseeable future.

Nobody knows this stuff better than Burt Flickinger. And we appreciate his sharing of his insights and observations.

In response to our story last week about Target getting more into the food business, MNB user David Livingston wrote:

Target changes their focus on food like the weather. First its Super Targets. But the food departments in those stores only do about 15%-50% of what a similar Wal-Mart Supercenter food department does in volume. And Target really has not opened very many Super Target stores compared to the way Wal-Mart opens supercenters. So now they are going to have expanded food but not perishables (perhaps ala the Big Kmart pantry?). Target has done a great job with the non food areas but I think they need to admit they don't have the first clue to selling food. Don't waste time and capital trying to do something you will never be good at. This reminds me of Michael Jordan quitting basketball to play baseball. Target is to food what Jordan was to baseball.
KC's View: