The Top Dozen Stories of 2003

Dec 30, 2003

By George Anderson

The year was certainly eventful for those working in retailing and related industries. Here are RetailWire’s picks for the top dozen stories of 2003.

  1. Medical cost containment

    Spiraling health costs were at the center of the labor dispute between store
    associates and management in Southern California and elsewhere. Chains say
    they need associates to pick up a greater share of medical expenses if they
    are to remain competitive with non-union retailers such as Wal-Mart.

  2. The lockout/strike of grocery workers in Southern California

  3. Accusations continue to fly between the parties as the dispute between the
    UFCW, representing 70,000 grocery workers, and Albertsons, Kroger and Safeway
    continues with no quick end in sight.

  4. Wal-Mart

  5. The world’s largest retailer has legions of admirers and critics. In 2003,
    it became fashionable in some circles to question whether Wal-Mart was good
    or bad for the American way of life.

  6. Business ethics issues and executive compensation

    Ahold, Parmalat and the labor dispute in Calif. shine a light on the disparity
    between what management says and does.

  7. Value-conscious consumers

    The growth of price formats, such as dollar stores and limited assortment
    grocery, plus continued last minute bargain hunting during the holiday sales
    period demonstrates America’s love of a great deal.

  1. The obesity epidemic

  2. Medical authorities say the increase of type 2 or adult onset diabetes in
    small children is a clear example of how out-of-shape America is. One man
    attempts to sue McDonald’s claiming the chain is at fault for his bulbous

  3. Low-carb craze

  4. America continues looking for an easy way to shed pounds.

  5. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology

  6. Consumer privacy groups are raising the specter of an Orwellian future if
    RFID is widely used, while retailers look to significantly improve the flow
    of products through the supply chain.

  7. Identity theft and coupon fraud

  8. Technology-based fraud is causing businesses and individuals to lose millions.

  9. Food safety

  10. Concerns over the safety of the food supply remain high because of threats
    posed by terrorists and disease, such as Mad Cow’s Disease. The debate over
    country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements continues.

  11. The Changing Face of America

  12. Consumer marketers and retailers continue to try and keep pace with a population
    that is aging, becoming more ethnically diverse and increasingly comfortable
    with the use of technology in both brick and click environments.

  13. Kmart and Fleming

    Time ran out for the grocery wholesaler when its supply arrangement with Kmart
    went south. The retailer continues its rebuilding process by: selling exclusive
    brands such as Martha Stewart; closing of under-performing stores; reconfiguring
    store layouts; giving store managers great autonomy; targeting specific ethnic
    groups in an effort to promote itself as the neighborhood’s store.

Moderator’s Comment: What do you think were the biggest
stories of 2003? Why?

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