The stores in my area continue to look terrible. However, they do have some foot traffic since they reopened after the COVID restrictions lifted.
One store which is the higher volume store no longer "piles it high" and is full of empty shelves even down at customer level (of course the high shelves are empty but still up) and has been this way now for close to a year. The store looks like it is going out of business. I do notice new private label merchandise in this store, prominently displayed. They continue to have a clearance area in the back center of the store that is attempting to sell visibly damaged merchandise "as-is no further coupons" and this really brings down the store and everyone who walks the store sees it since it is in such a prominent spot.
The other two stores still "pile it high" and are pretty well stocked (very low volume stores), but the products they have and their pricing are solid "misses." Lots and lots of old dated inventory. I don't even notice their new private label merchandise in this store.
As far as making the chain feel more like Target, is that really what the customer wants? If the customer wants Target, won't they just go to Target?
Aldi US is really having to up its game to attempt to respond to Lidl. It is very interesting.
With that said, they have the foot traffic to support an additional fresh offering. This should increase baskets from existing customers, potentially increase visit frequency from existing customers who shopped elsewhere for the items Aldi will now be offering, etc. So why not?
As a UPS Access Point, CVS accepts returns for numerous online retailers and most stores are open until 10 PM. CVS has many thousands of locations that are very convenient to many consumers.
Staples: a chain that has been shrinking for years. Staples: a store that runs on skeleton crews. Staples: are they even open past 7 PM on weeknights?
Always great for consumers to have options, but this isn't a great option.
SpartanNash has a dwindling wholesale operation and a dwindling retail operation. This is a company that has been bleeding for years (specifically the old Nash Finch side of it). Not sure how this is going to work out.
Amazon will end up finding using a third party does not work and will fail in grocery (ask Kmart) or Amazon will end up using the third party while they can't do it themselves then build up the technology to successfully do grocery on their own and ditch the third party (ask Supervalu how that worked with Target).
Recently on Yelp, a single location independent restaurant in my area started getting a bunch of one star reviews from mostly out of town reviewers and folks with little to no review history claiming the owner was racist and made racist comments on Facebook.
The owner of the restaurant in question made comments to the effect of "All Lives Matter" in response to some Black Lives Matter posting on Facebook.
Is that racist? Yes or no? That is your opinion.
Taking this a step further -- would that behavior land the business on Yelp's "Racist Business" sticker award? The business did not display racist behavior toward any customer who came into the business. The owner made comments (comments which it is your opinion whether or not the comments are racist) in a Facebook through her personal account (not the business account).
I expect to see some lawsuits resulting from this for businesses that are either falsely accused of "being racist" or cases like the above where they are putting the racist label on a business due to comments someone affiliated with the business made in some open forum not posting under the business name.
This continues to seem like a slippery slope where unless a business outright panders to certain groups it may be seen as racist and given a falsely bad impression online.
Next example: There was a regional grocery store chain that, according to a former security guard, in some stores that have since closed in tough neighborhoods in Sacramento, advised its security guards to "watch" for certain "races" of customers (I won't get into which ones) because they tended to steal more. Okay, so what do you do here? Do you label the whole chain racist? Just those store locations? Next wrinkle: the security guards were not actually employed by the store but contractors of a third party security guard agency. So do you label the security guard agency as racist?
When I visit Petco, I enter a store with only a couple of employees and virtually no customers. There is zero engagement from the staff until you try to go buy something, even then, it is a little iffy. At checkout at one of the locations I go to which still has the old logo out front (probably not a great performing store) is a dog toy and a sign to squeeze toy for service. If you don't buy something, you won't have any interaction with an employee at all.
Petco ditched standard commodity branded pet foods a while back (Friskies, Pedigree, etc.) for the highest cost (and higher margin) cleaner ingredient type brands. Problem is, a lot of customers still buy that commodity type pet food and you need foot traffic to support a 20k square foot store, vet services, grooming, etc. You also need foot traffic to "convert to better for your pet pet foods" and if you run them off by discontinuing what they use, you don't even get the chance to try to change them to a better for pet brand. Let along sell them vet services, etc.
Petco was never the most price competitive (Petsmart has always been a better deal) so it probably made sense to just give up the brands that had a lot of price competition going on.
Petco can rebrand all it wants but it continues to lose relevance to the consumer. Chewy and Amazon (and for the commodity type brands that Petco is too good to sell, Walmart or Target or various grocers) are winning and will keep winning.
There is a Dollar General in Mesa at 330 East Brown Road with extensive photos on Google which are pretty consistent average store conditions for this chain. (I've seen better, and also seen MUCH worse.) You will see they have numerous items there; I would venture less than 10% of SKUs are under $1 in price.
Funny story: the first one of these format of stores I ever saw was a Family Dollar out in Buckeye. It must have been 15 years ago by now.
My first instinct is to say this will not work. But maybe it will. It looks like a copy of Five Below with less clutter and more SKUs.
Add to it the buying power of Dollar General and you may have a winner. They can offer much of the same merchandise through these stores just presenting it differently and potentially reach a different demographic than Dollar General currently reaches. But this store seems to have fewer SKUs than the standard Dollar General and less essential type merchandise than the standard Dollar General.
I wonder if a better approach would be to clean up the Dollar General format a little bit and put nicer Dollar General Stores into these types of locations with the full Dollar General product mix.
So going back to this format, it looks like it will generate less revenue than the typical Dollar General (since it only has $5 and lower price point product, and fewer product SKUs). It will take more overhead to operate since it promises no clutter and appears to have higher staffing levels. So not really sure how this will mesh in with their overall operation.
Once you get past the awful store conditions, which are a direct result of being so skimpy with labor, which seems to be necessary to make the format work and turn a profit, Dollar General's merchandise quality actually is decent. I have a few clothing, kitchen, etc. items from them and these items are quite good. Their private label food and drug items are comparable to any other major retailer (Walmart, Kroger, Target, etc.) mostly from the same sources.
Aside from that Kroger owned banner I visited last night with limit 1 on various categories, all other retailers in my area have long removed their purchase limit signage. Walmart still has a purchase limit sign in front of their always empty rubbing alcohol shelf, but the purchase limit signs are gone from the 50% empty 22.5 hours a day cleaning supply aisle and the now full paper aisles.
I think purchase limit signage needs to remain in some form. If it isn't limit 1, limit 2, there needs to be some limit. Shelf clearing customers can cause big problems quickly. If the retailers at the corporate level want control over this, they have to force their stores to impose purchase limits, post signage, and actually enforce the limits.
Household supplies? At Kroger owned banner and Safeway (and all the regional grocers) in my area, the shelves in the cleaning aisles are still 50%-75% empty. Things like disinfecting wipes, sprays, and many cleaning solutions have been out of stock at these retailers since about March. I am told very small quantities show up on the trucks once or twice a week and are quickly sold.
Safeway un-did the plan-o-gram on about half of its cleaning aisle and put a bunch of random junk there nobody wants and is not selling (all that specialty hand sanitizer, some generic baby wipe type wipes, etc.).
So no, cleaning supply aisles have not been re-stocked and there is absolutely still a product shortage.
I shopped a Kroger owned banner last night and new signage is posted limit 1 item per household from Kleenex, OTC medicine, napkins, paper towels, bath tissue, soap/sanitizer, and cleaning supplies. Limit 1 box of Kleenex? I also went to Safeway where they had absolutely no quantity limit signage posted. The Kroger owned banner was noticeably better stocked.
Everyone knows quick action is needed. Well, except the House and Senate who seem to be sitting pretty in the beltway bubble and simply do not care.
Trump's comment about it waiting until after the election was clearly a politically loaded and completely irresponsible comment, but I think there may have been a back-goal to that comment to piss people off to the point that they will finally get moving on this and pass something. But if something passes that may be considered a political win for Trump and the Democrats will do everything in their power to stop that from happening.
You may be able to cobble together some of this information if you look into OSHA fines against the businesses you mentioned. In fact Kroger just got hit with some OSHA fines in CA earlier this week. Part of the OSHA fine Kroger got in California was for not properly reporting COVID Cases/Deaths. So I am not sure the data you are asking for out of these retailers, is even readily available.
When I first saw the number, I thought it was a huge number. I didn't know off the top of my head how many total employees Amazon has in the US. I think it is best the number be directly presented with the total number of employees. It still sounds like a big number, but if you do the math as a % it is about in line with what would be expected.
What about the many people who use those single use plastic bags a second time (then they do get thrown away) for pet waste, trash, light yard waste, to take lunch out with them, etc.? For me when in CA I can actually use the small plastic produce bags for things like the pet waste or lunch. But for the yard waste or trash, now that means I need to buy trash bags (which are -- plastic). And that trash bag costs me money, gets used exactly one time for the trash, and is not recycled. The single use plastic bag is not single use for many. This causes them to just have to buy other plastic bags (like trash bags) which are truly single use.