Your point about geography is very appropriate in this context. Fayetteville is a lovely university burg with some nice features and a progressive spirit -- but it is by no means a major city and its airport (while charming) is not a hub. It's a company town, not one that you're going to want to put roots into and not one where your relatives live. And it's surrounded for several hundred miles, unfortunately, by a lot of people who really don't want Black, Hispanic, or Asian folks moving in, especially if they're being paid well. If you moved your family to rural Arkansas, would you feel safe letting your Black son drive to high school?
After watching the video, Target has nothing to worry about. Heck, even the Gap might not have anything to worry about. This line is about on par with Amazon Basics - I can't see it being an attraction to the stores.
Getting Americans to actually use their existing vacation days has been a persistent problem, and even in my own office, co-workers are hitting the "use it or lose it" limits right now after a summer of not being able to get away. Short getaways are a partial answer but even those are caught up in the braided cords of school schedules, as well as a lack of inspiration - if I take a day off, realistically, I'm just doing laundry and maybe weeding...
My company produces mainly educational games, puzzles, and flash cards for classroom environments and we've seen those kinds of products skyrocket this summer, purchased by families wanting to supplement learning at home. We've got next-to-no budget for consumer marketing, but I've been refining and expanding descriptions nonstop and adding photos and other content to make them sticky to search engines - I'm hoping we continue to see this kind of demand all the way until the holidays!
The recent infection data suggests the suburbs and exurbs are even worse than the core cities. When there's the one grocery store, the one Walmart, etc., the entire community gets exposed; whereas in an urban setting there are often more options that spread out the risk.
In agriculture it's understood that monoculture crops are much more susceptible to disease, parasitism, and food-safety concerns -- suburban settings have a lot of social parallels. (Plus increased logistics and service-delivery costs, higher energy consumption, etc.)
I'm not surprised that demand for mid-range residential property here in Minneapolis & St. Paul continues to be very strong even after all our troubles....
As a manufacturer seeing our primary sales channel shift from specialty brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, we are making investments to outright change product dimensions and content configurations. It didn't matter what shipping costs were when stores were the main point of contact, but now we realize our signature SKUs fall into Amazon's "small oversize" FBA category -- the S&H charges there basically make them unprofitable to sell online. But by tweaking the size, we can get them into the "large standard" category and shave a solid $5 of S&H out of the merchant's cost to fulfill an item, making them wildly profitable. And we're investing in a cold-seal packaging machine, so they'll be shipment-ready, again saving the merchant packaging costs to get to the end customer.
So it's not exactly automation, but it is process/product refinement that will streamline our merchants' and distributors' fulfillment. (Wish us luck!)
In the Before Times, a common discussion thread on these boards was how the lack of qualified staff was materially impacting sales in many different sectors. The fundamentals haven't changed -- if anything COVID has proven how necessary it is for a company to have a strong team. It won't build sales that weekend, but it's essential for building sales over the long haul. Proud that Red Wing is a Minnesota company!
Should employers assume lifelong responsibility and death benefits for failing to reasonably ensure a safe work environment? If not, then who needs railings on staircases? Anyone can drive that forklift!
Very much a "back to the future" feeling of A&W and Dairy Queen locations back in the post-war period! Caribou Coffee has been rolling out "cabins" in smaller markets here in the North with many of these same ideas. One concern about using apps for navigation is the cellphone-while-driving bans: when I place a Starbucks order before getting in the car, I don't need to keep glancing at the screen en route. Please don't make drivers have to refer to a phone.
But we all know what happened with fuel surcharges after 9/11 - they never went away, and every year FedEx and UPS keep raising those fees, regardless of the price of petroleum. Just recalibrate the list prices and let consumers budget appropriately. (Gosh, perhaps even pay the staff an appropriate wage and eliminate tipping as well?)
I do like the choice of language here. For smaller merchants/manufacturers like us with no volume negotiating leverage, frank honesty is a good policy (residential surcharges and fuel surcharges play here as well).
This can also be an opportunity for REI to dynamically put its teams in more direct contact with users and environments -- use the products, interact with customers and suppliers, learn from experience and take that back into the organization. I'd expect to see more business travel, not less, from this strategy, but if done well, it will be a better investment than fixed real estate.
Indeed -- the fiscally conservative thing to do is to invest in projects with long-term high rates of return while interest rates are essentially zero! Transportation, postal, water, and power infrastructure; job training and school improvements; healthcare and child care -- these all multiply the effectiveness of American labor and improve business efficiency. Short term they put everyone back to work; in time they pay off with stronger revenue to let us pay off our debt. Smart for business, smart for workers, smart for families.