business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the Associated Press:

"Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week with the labor market continuing to cruise along despite higher interest rates intended to cool hiring.

"US applications for jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 228,000 for the week ending July 15, from 237,000 previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

"The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out some of the weekly volatility, fell by 9,250 to 237,500.

"Jobless claim applications are viewed as reflective of the number of layoffs in a given week."

•  Marketing Daily reports that nutritional supplement retailer GNC is getting into ther telehealth and prescription business.

 GNC Health is described as a “free supplemental healthcare service," and, the story says, is “'free' if you pay $39.99 to join GNC’s Pro Access loyalty program, whose other perks include 10% cashback rewards on every purchase, a free bar or drink every month, and expedited shipping. GNC says it’s all a $400 value -- but did not provide any details on how the company is managing the economics of the program internally.

"GNC’s entrance into the prescription drug and telehealth businesses makes it the latest in an increasingly long line of so-called retail health disruptors that also includes Kroger, Dollar General, Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon. The latter has its own discount prescription drug business and also spent $3.9 billion to acquire One Medical for telehealth and other doctor visits."

•  From the New York Times:

"AMC is abandoning plans to charge more for movie seats depending on their location. But higher prices for center-middle seats at theaters where AMC has been testing the concept will remain in effect this weekend, when 'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer' are expected to draw significant crowds.

"AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain, said on Thursday that it would 'pivot away' from a contentious initiative called Sightline, in which seats at evening screenings had three tiers of pricing, ending the long-held cinema custom of charging the same amount for any seat in a theater. (Discounts of $1 to $2 were offered for the neck-craning front row, increases of $1 to $2 were charged for the center-middle and the status quo remained for the rest.)

"The concept was rolled out in March at theaters in New York, Illinois and Kansas to howls of protest from some moviegoers. AMC always labeled it as a test."

I know that in most public venues with audience seating, better seats cost more money.  But in this case, the policy just didn't make sense - movie theaters still are struggling to come back, and the people going to the movies generally are the most dedicated and loyal customers.  And AMC wanted to charge them more for better seats, which isn't my definition of how you treat your best patrons.

•  Eyeglass retailer Warby Parker said yesterday that it has a new way to get its non-prescription glasses - a vending machine.

The vending machine is located at Virgil Normal, which is described as "a new gender fluid lifestyle store located near the corner of Virgil and Normal in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. Catering to the gentlemen of sports and leisure, Virgil Normal will stock both new and vintage clothing, home products, books, records, art supplies, and beauty products as well as host art and cultural events appealing to men living a balance between city life and the great outdoors."

The vending machine's items are from artist Geoff McFetridge, and will feature sunglasses as well as Coffee Crisp candy bars, custom bike grips, the book "Sharks, Deaths, Surfers", and an exclusive sunglass leash.