business news in context, analysis with attitude

Glen Terbeek has a thought prompted by our story about BJ's Wholesale Club downsizing its headquarters because the pandemic illustrated less of need for so much space:

So maybe when the virus is over, retailers should change from “Work From Home” to "Work From Store” in the future.  "Work From Headquarters" is so old fashioned!  Headquarter could/can be spread throughout the stores in the chain to be close to the markets, shoppers and competitors.

Regarding what we referred to as the death of the 24-hour store, one MNB reader wrote:

I wouldn’t use Covid as a main reason they can’t get people to work the 3rd shift.  That shift has always been very difficult to staff for any locations.  Quality of personnel, security, shrink, cost to keep the lights on, and low sales have all contributed to the loss of 24 hr locations.  Covid just added to the reasons. 

MNB reader Michael Seelig wrote in about our coronavirus coverage, especially mask guidance:

I have not done an exhaustive search, but in the several articles I have read and news stories I have seen, no one is asking how we will know who is vaccinated and who is not. Now, I am not proposing any type of vaccine passport, or tattoo. However, if I head to my local farmers market and half of the folks are no longer wearing a mask, and I suspect the number will be higher, how am I to be relatively confidant that everyone is following the rules. Over the past year we have seen way too many examples of folks who refuse to do so.

Regarding Sephora's plans for its Kohl's boutiques, one MNB reader wrote:

Curious what Sephora has learned from its similar in store shops at JC Penney.  I have never, not once, had a good experience in one.
Some kind of issue at every visit - unhelpful and unknowledgeable staff, horrific out of stocks, variable pricing between online and/or standalone Sephora storefronts, and the inability to use Sephora gift cards as a form of payment or return/exchange items purchased at a JCP location to a standalone store and vice versa. 

In other words, the kind of things that can kill a brand.  Not surprising for JC Penney.

We had the story yesterday about Amazon giving  a half-million employees a raise, which prompted MNB reader Kelly Dean Wiseman to write:

It’s funny how the article you quoted from listed Amazon as “leading the industry” at $15/hour.

Based on what I see $15 is quickly falling behind… 

Another MNB reader wrote:

This goes back to the additional story.  Of this $2.5 billion investment, how much will affect their prices to the consumer?  Will they take a margin hit?  Will they further squeeze the manufacturer?  Both? It will have to come from somewhere.  It is not an investment if you ask someone else for the money.

We took note the other day of a New York Times story about how consumers should expect prices to go up in coming months, as a receding pandemic makes it more palatable for manufacturers to raise their prices because of rising commodity costs, and retailers feel empowered to pass those increases on to shoppers as opposed to absorbing them.

I commented:

The guess here is that retailers will pass along the increases until a retailer a) decides to absorb the hikes and b) make a marketing and differentiating point out of the fact that its prices are lower.  Then others will do the same, and then they'll start pressuring suppliers for lower prices.

Which seems to be how the game always is played.

One MNB reader responded:

I wonder if the NYT will write a story that talks about the BS fees, charges, programs and high margin requirements of the retailers.  That is also how the game is played.  Retailers are good, manufacturers are bad.  You want to open a friend’s eye’s who are not in the food industry, tell them how much the manufacturer has to spend in slotting just to get on the shelf.  Tell them how much one little block in the ad costs.  Tell them how much margin the retailer demands in the selling price to their customers. Then tell them about the covid increased fees they charge for late deliveries, bad pallets, lumpers, mysterious damages, etc.   Watch your friends' minds explode.  Now that, is a REAL story.  If retailers, and some do, just worked on selling goods instead charging fees, maybe their prices would actually go down.  Hmmm. Manufacturers raising costs?  Just another partial story from NYT.

That just wasn't the story the Times was working on.   Not everything is a liberal media conspiracy.