business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Hollywood Reporter reports that "Run-D.M.C. has filed a lawsuit against Walmart, Amazon, Jet and a number of others for more than $50 million over alleged trademark infringement on products using the iconic hip-hop group's name and logo without permission." The suit "also names a number of the companies selling the products through those online marketplaces, as well as 20 John Does, saying they 'trade on the goodwill of RUN-DMC'."

The lawsuit says that "some of the allegedly infringing products claim to be 'RUN-DMC styled products' such as fedora hats and square-frame sunglasses that use the group's name in their title or description but not the logo. Meanwhile, others more blatantly use the group's famous logo on shirts, purses, patches and other products."

This is one of the ways in which I know that I'm old. I have no idea what Run-D.M.C.'s logo looks like, nor what clothes or sunglasses they wear.

• The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is out with a year-end study saying that 63 percent of c-store retailers saw an increase in foodservice sales during 2016, with an equal number saying they saw an increase in the sales of better-for-you items like fruits and vegetables, yogurt, nuts and health bars.

The study also says that "retailer confidence about the U.S. economy also surged. A record 79% of retailers say they are optimistic about the U.S. economy—a 26-point jump from last quarter. This surge in retailer optimism mirrors the optimism of their customers. A record 60% of U.S. fuel consumers said they are optimistic about the U.S. economy, according to the NACS December 2016 consumer sentiment survey. Retailers also are very optimistic about the overall convenience retailing industry. More than three in four convenience retailers (78%) said they are optimistic about the industry’s prospects in the first quarter of 2017, a 7-point jump from three months ago."

The Street reports that Costco seems to be signaling that an increase in US warehouse membership fees may be on the table for 2017, following 10 percent fee increases in Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Mexico and the UK.

The story writes that "should Costco lift membership fees in the U.S. and Canada next year, and considering the recent overseas hikes, the company's bottom line could get a needed jolt as sales have slowed at the hands of greater online competition and food deflation."

• The Washington Post reports that "a new law in Michigan will prohibit local governments from banning, regulating or imposing fees on the use of plastic bags and other containers. You read that correctly: It’s not a ban on plastic bags — it’s a ban on banning plastic bags."

The story points out that "Michigan is not the only state to have implemented a ban on bans. Idaho, Arizona and Missouri all have enacted similar laws. In these cases, proponents of the laws have defended them as a way of protecting businesses from having to comply with additional regulations."

As opposed to protecting the planet from pollution. Or, to be specific, allowing municipalities and their citizens from determining what their priorities and policies should be when it comes to such things.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Sears Holdings CEO Edward Lampert has extended the company a $200 million line of credit that be expanded to a total of $500 million.

The story says that "the company, which had just $258 million in cash on hand as of October, said it would use the new liquidity to fund its operations."

It is amazing to me that at this point Sears doesn't have a DNR. Though at some point in the near future, I suspect that it won't matter.
KC's View: