When I read about Kohl's management agreeing to be in exclusive talks with Franchise Group, I did a couple things. First I looked to see if the article was from a reputable source (CNBC was the website), then I still couldn't believe it so I checked the article date and, well, it wasn't April 1. Then I looked and saw other articles about it. So okay, it must be true.
There is no need to go on a long winded post about this topic.
The fact of the matter is Kohl's current management is not good. They have made a lot of mistakes especially since the COVID-19 reopening. And entering exclusive talks with "Franchise Group" is just another mistake. And this mistake looks fatal.
At least with Amazon Fresh these carts cannot go outside the store or even close to the doors. They will lock up 25 or 30 feet from the door.
Gee there's another friction point for someone who would like to push their cart outside....
I've used the Dash Cart at Amazon Fresh multiple times. I like it. It shows prices as you take items in and out of the cart.
However I notice I am typically the only customer using one of those carts.
Albertsons/Safeway needs to focus on its terrible pricing and marginal quality fresh departments. This is the wrong thing to worry about.
Consumers will be trading down. There is no question. The price spikes are forcing it to happen. Retailers and big brands are in for a world of trouble going forward if they do not quickly deliver and maintain a realistic value proposition to the consumer.
The one industry and segment of consumers who seems to continue to be able to charge whatever it wants and there is a good sized segment of consumers who keeps patronizing them without complaining -- various independent restaurants. Not the chains -- you hear people grumbling about pricing at chain restaurants.
If retail stores can differentiate and be "special" enough maybe they can accomplish the same type of customer loyalty but I don't see any national chain retailers even close to running an operation that accomplishes that. Target was heavily propped as a chain that had that sort of situation but reality has returned for that bloat.
It is worse this time.
I have not seen retail stores operated as poorly as the current state of many retail stores, in a long time. And earnings releases from Walmart and Target this week show what happens when your stores are so poorly run. This release really put things back to reality at Target. Walmart's operational problems (pallets everywhere in the store) have been well documented for months.
Staffing shortages even when higher wages are being paid, because these stores are such a chaotic disorganized working environment they cannot attract employees and also have management shortages.
Supply chain issues: I know we don't hear much about this anymore except in certain categories but this issue seems to still be continuing in more categories than it should be.
Gas prices: the consumer is continuing to notice more how much they are spending on gas now. As retailers are having to increase prices too dealing with not only the gas prices causing increased costs to them but also increased product costs, consumers will buy less.
Is it all doom and gloom? I'd like to say it isn't. But it feels like there are more negatives in the current state of affairs for retail than I've ever seen in the couple of decades I've closely observed the industry.
Out in the real world the retailers I am seeing who seem to be picking up major amounts of traffic in this environment -- off price retailers (especially TJX, who is proud of its high inventory levels), discount concepts (like Grocery Outlet), warehouse club stores (if Costco can even fit any more customers into most of its stores)....
The problem is the burn out created by the ongoing new programs and restructures. They have high turnover in this position. Career people who started as cashiers and work up to store manager end up leaving after a few years and take jobs at other retailers as a store manager making half as much.
Walmart needs to make some real changes to how it does things to retain store managers. This program doesn't even touch the issues that have caused this situation.
And it is a situation. Over the Christmas shopping season in my area five Walmarts had the store manager position vacant.
Yeah, how many divisions does Kroger have? It sounds like some stores may get one or two new products out of this initiative.
Regional chains and independents have hundreds of local products already.
This initiative sounds good but the results are basically symbolic and not material.
What was more effective was when each Kroger division office handled this sort of thing. Back as late as 2014 this was handled by each division.
Many divisions have a bit over 100 stores. To limit local vendors to less than 100 stores vs. an entire division as they once had access to seems limiting.
Too much centralization at Kroger. Reminds me of Safeway in 2010 before they shrunk and ended up sold to Albertsons.
It is very clear -- Bed Bath & Beyond is dying. They will sell whatever they can to generate money to keep going further with their poorly run and lousy Bed Bath & Beyond format.
Maybe this will be good news for Buybuy Baby if someone buys it who will be aggressive with it. I already thought Bed Bath & Beyond was somewhat aggressive with Buybuy Baby.
Poor move to divest this. If anything they should move the "Baby" into the "Beyond" and do combo stores.
If I were a consumer in one of these states buying food I would certainly be happy to see the sales tax on food go to zero, at least happy in the short term.
However, the way I am reading the wording here it is the states suspending their state sales tax on food. What about the local/county component of the sales tax on food? Is that being suspended too?
I am not sure the average consumer is going to care much in, for instance, IL, where 1% of the food sales tax drops off but the other whatever percent it is, remains.
Also I do not understand the Tax Foundation's comment that this would hurt low income families and SNAP benefits. Why would that be? Customers who purchase food with SNAP benefits, already do not pay sales tax on food as the tax is "rolled off" the receipt when that payment type is used. Is the Tax Foundation implying retailers may do a price increase to make up for the loss of a few cents of sales tax being added to the price?
Likely not enough to make a living, but similar jobs in this industry that pay less and have few to no benefits are far worse.
Starbucks compensation and benefit package is also more generous than most retailers (looking at department stores and mall stores) for starting level employees.
These jobs seem designed for college students or others looking for part time work, not as a career and not to be relied upon to make a living.
Why attack Starbucks and try to unionize them when there are so many other targets out there that pay so much less and offer fewer benefits?
The issue is are the demands of these employees realistic?
Next move is you start a franchise program and convert these corporate stores to franchise stores. That means everyone is fired and starts new under the franchisee. Union agreement is gone. The franchisee being a smaller entity will not provide as generous of a wage or benefit package as the corporate Starbucks do. That would be unfortunate as Starbucks has built a strong network of corporate operated stores while other fast food chains have largely franchised everything. The corporate network makes for stronger employee benefits and better consistency.
I don't think these employees unionizing at Starbucks have a clue what they are even voting for. Starbucks already pays the highest wages and has the best employee benefit package covering the most employees in the fast food industry.
What is the union going to bring them? "Improved working conditions?" Go work a shift at any other major fast food chain for a day and come back to Starbucks with no meat grill, no fryer frying chicken and fish, no ice cream machine, no kids play area, and reflect on how the "working conditions" compare between the two then.
It seems to me Starbucks has hired some of the wrong employees who don't even understand what they are getting into with a union or what the union can do for them. Or they think Starbucks makes infinite profits and can somehow afford to get them even better pay and benefits than they already receive.
I am hopeful Howard Schultz can turn this around. If he can't, nobody else can. And if I were him I'd be pretty frustrated with what is happening here given my company already pays the highest wages and has the most generous benefit package in the industry.
I too live in a rapidly developing area and things seem busier than ever if you look at the roads and development.
However, I am not sure retailers are getting the baskets they were getting. Places like Bed Bath & Beyond, Petsmart, and Best Buy seem to have less activity. Also high priced conventional grocery stores seem to be losing traffic. I also notice there seems to be a real uptick in traffic at certain retailers perceived as discount stores; I am seeing more customers than ever at places like Sam's Club, Big Lots, and Grocery Outlet. Walmart and Target are also staying very busy.
Some retailers have really blown this like Dollar Tree with its price increase. Their stores are deserted in my area since the price increase. What is funny is their mix is expanding a bit but once you lose the customer it is tough to communicate the mix expanded and there really are some items that are worth $1.25.