business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Grocery Outlet said this week that it has just had its first billion-dollar quarter, with Q2 sales up 12.5 percent from the same period a year ago to $1.01 billion, on net income that was up 21.8 percent to $24.5 million.  Same-store sales were up 9.2 percent, on a 9.1 percent increase in transactions.

This clearly is the result of inflation and a recessionary mindset.  The challenge will be holding onto the gains as the economy improves.

•  From Axios this morning:

"The Consumer Price Index rose 3.2% in the 12 months through July and the measure that excludes energy and food prices rose 4.7%, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

"Why it matters: Despite a tick up in overall inflation, underlying details point to further signs of cooling last month as the steep price gains that plagued American consumers look to be moderating."

•  Not every retailer, apparently, is abandoning San Francisco's troubled mean streets.

ABC News reports that "IKEA, the global furniture giant, will open a store in downtown San Francisco later this month, the company announced on Tuesday, defying an onrush of retail departures that has slammed the city center in recent years.

"Located blocks away from the city's Union Square retail hub, the store will anchor a new mall owned by Ingka Centres, an IKEA-affiliated developer that seeks to drive shopping traffic toward company stores.

"The new, sprawling three-story store will span a combined 52,000 square feet, featuring 27 fully-furnished room displays tailored for city dwellers, IKEA said.

The announcement bucks a trend of retailers exiting downtown San Francisco.

In recent months, a slew of closures of retail stores in San Francisco doubles as a roundup of well-known shopping brands: Whole Foods, Old Navy and Nordstrom, among others."

This is interesting on several levels.  First, it is an extension of Ikea's urban strategy - building urban formats that are tighter and more focused on service than the suburban behemoths upon which it built its reputation.

But the opening in San Francisco also is noteworthy.  Axios has a story this morning about a possible business/office resurgence in the city, driven by AI companies". "San Francisco is now a teeming center of AI development — home to 20 of the 50 members of Forbes AI 50 list showcasing promising companies in the field."  So there's hope for one of the country's great cities.

•  From CNN:

"Molson Coors, best known for brewing Coors Light and Miller Lite, is acquiring Blue Run Spirits, a cult favorite high-end bourbon and rye whiskey brand … It’s part of the company’s pivot to becoming a broader beverage company focusing on drinks beyond beer, especially since US spirit sales surpassed beer sales last year for the first time ever.

"Blue Run is a Kentucky-based startup that makes premium bourbon whiskeys with prices ranging from $100 to $250 for a bottle. Five people came together that have a 'common love' for bourbon and created the brand in 2020, according to Blue Run CEO and cofounder Mike Montgomery, which resulted in a 'groundbreaking brand' that skews younger and more diverse than typical bourbon drinkers, he said."