• In the Los Angeles area, the Press-Telegram reports that the closure of supermarkets by Kroger as a reaction to mandated hazard pay - the company said that the required hourly increases for store employees made the stores financially untenable - is leading to a larger argument about food insecurity in the affected neighborhoods.
The city of Long Beach, which is where Kroger closed two stores, is being pushed by local elected officials "to create a food security plan to ensure residents impacted by the closures - as well as residents who more generally have poor access to healthy food - as part of its plan for recovering economically from the coronavirus pandemic."
The city is said to be actively recruiting retailers specializing in healthy food to come to the area - and perhaps even take over one of the locations that Kroger closed (where the lease runs out in 6-12 months).
• Seattle-based PCC Community Markets, the largest community-owned food market in the U.S., yesterday reported that "it gave back more than 60% of its profit to its community, including its first-ever member dividend totaling $3.9 million. The co-op’s 2020 grocery sales totaled $383.2 million (growing 26.1% from the prior year), with net income – including one-time impacts from historical tax refunds – of $2.7 million (growing 26.4% from prior year). In addition to providing its community with more than $700,000 in financial and in-kind support, these results include the impact of the co-op investing more than $4 million during the year in unanticipated COVID-related costs and safety measures across the 15 locations, and in staff appreciation pay."
According to the announcement, "The co-op’s sales growth was driven by the opening of two new stores in Bellevue and Seattle’s Central District, as well as increased pandemic-related spending driven primarily by its members. In January 2020, PCC introduced a new member benefit program with the opportunity for members, inclusive of staff, to receive an annual dividend."
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"Vaccinated shoppers are heading back to the mall, offering hope that the worst of the pandemic downturn is over for this beleaguered industry.
"Foot traffic at a representative sample of 50 malls in March was up 86% from the same month last year, according to mobile-device location data from analytics firm Placer.ai.
"While that foot traffic was 24% lower than in March 2019, mall owners are suggesting that their business has turned a corner. Shoppers are eager to get out again, often armed with cash from the latest round of government stimulus checks. Many aren’t just browsing shops but dining out and returning home with bags full of new purchases."