• National Retail Federation (NRF) Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said yesterday that "the economy’s fast-paced growth could slow somewhat as the Federal Reserve tries to bring inflation under control in the next few months, but consumers are likely to keep on shopping as lower inflation eases uncertainty."
Kleinhenz said that "the Fed’s tightening has kicked off a new cycle of adjustment and the outlook for interest rates has consequences for consumers and businesses alike. There is a growing list of uncertainties, and the risks are mounting. But underlying strength and momentum from both the consumer and business sectors are likely to offset a modest slowdown and should leave the economy bustling forward this year.”
Kleinhenz argued that "household finances have remained strong despite consumers’ worries over inflation and the war in Ukraine. The 4 percent year-over-year increase in retail sales in March showed consumers have the willingness and ability to spend as a result of job growth, wage gains and wealth accumulated during the pandemic as well as low financial obligations relative to income."
• Jonathan H. Weis, chairman-president-CEO of Weis Markets, has announced that "in 2022, we plan to invest more than $150 million in our capital expenditure program. This budget includes four new stores, some of which will be completed in the coming years, one expansion, five major remodels and eight fuel centers.”
• From Axios:
"Now that front-of-the-house automation has grown ubiquitous — we almost expect to order food through a kiosk — some of the biggest innovations in quick-serve restaurants are in meal preparation.
"Robots with artificial intelligence don't just blindly plop mounds of hash browns into a deep fryer: They can tell if a basket handle is askew or the oil is too hot and correct the problem.
"Machines are taking over a lot of mundane tasks that are prone to human error, like monitoring refrigerator conditions, cleaning exhaust hoods and disposing of fry oil.
Big chains like Burger King and McDonald's have 'innovation teams' looking at how robotics can improve all aspects of the operation."
Perhaps the most prominent example, Axios writes, is "Flippy, a burger-flipping droid made by a company called Miso Robotics, (which) has been making a splash at CaliBurger, which is showcasing Flippy's talents at its store in Pasadena.
"Chains like White Castle and Jack-in-the-Box are using a next-generation machine called Flippy 2. It's a ceiling-mounted automated fry station with a robotic arm that can turn out food round-the-clock and distinguish between a chicken wing and a nugget.
"Miso Robotics also makes machines like Chippy, which turns out tortilla chips for Chipotle, and CookRight Coffee, which monitors the temperature and quantity of coffee in urns for Panera Bread."