They could innovate if they gave more control back to the local divisions. In their current form, I'm not going to say they can't innovate, but their efforts seem half baked and execution is poor.
They can't even figure out how to get Apple Pay working outside the QFC Division. Actually it seems as if they are actively blocking it in the rest of their stores as they want people to use "Kroger Pay."
Kroger and prepared foods ... something that never gets a clear program.
Kroger got solid prepared foods programs from Mariano's and pretty good prepared foods programs from Harris Teeter. They need to just roll those out chainwide. The programs Kroger has come up with on its own at the Kroger level are terrible.
What happened to the in-store restaurants they were talking up a few years ago? Are those still there?
Kroger had some stores in my area where they spent a lot of money to retrofit the deli and put in a counter with BBQ food and Mexican street food (Chipotle type thing). The food was terrible, the prices were too high, hours of operation were poor and the menus were set up poorly. Want to buy a pound of brisket? Nope. You have to buy a "plate" with side items. Want 1 taco? Nope -- have to buy 3 tacos in a "plate." Horrible program out of their corporate office. They since ripped the whole thing out.
Another location got a new fried chicken concept where they removed the customer facing hot case, but started to keep the food in a closed warmer behind the counter. Like a KFC. Customers thought there was no longer any chicken so they put what looked like a popcorn machine on the counter and put a small amount of fried chicken into it. In the past week this location has a nice big new customer facing hot food case again full of fried chicken like it had 5 years ago.
The problem is sanitation of the reusable bags. Most of the ones on the market are not the machine washable cloth ones, they are just super thick plastic ones that will fall apart if you try to throw them into a washing machine. Some I have received recently have a "flock lined" interior that is basically impossible to clean and an outer plastic shell. Those are not properly sanitized. The time, resources, and environmental impact on properly sanitizing the reusable bags is significant.
The reality is disposable packaging is not going away in the supermarket environment. This includes at the checkstand.
Sure, Natural Grocers says no bags, but they have a lot of boxes up front for customers to take, stores are very low volume/low traffic (does the average store even do $250k a week in sales?), and a lot of the transactions tend to be on the small side.
Other stores that have no bags, like Costco, already have the items shrink wrapped in bundles using in many cases thin plastic film. My favorite at Costco is the "double wrapped" paper products. Thin plastic inside more thin plastic. The amount of plastic you walk out of Costco with isn't much different than if you had gone to Target or Walmart, bought the items in single unit quantities, and thrown them into a bag at the checkstand.
I don't want to tear these solutions apart, but I thought the Closed Loop Partners program was to be reinventing the bag. This is simply taking the same old reusable bag and trying to change the delivery method, track it, or incentivize its use.
I must have misunderstood. I was expecting Closed Loop Partners to propose solutions such as bags made with alternative materials or some kind of recycling incentives (overseas they are repurposing used thin plastic bags into bricks; in the US they have repurposed them into park benches) or something else along those lines.
So to that point, no -- none of these solutions address anything that hasn't already been addressed. The retailers already resell reusable bags in-store (how is that different from the kiosk), many retailers already incentivize the customer for use of reusable bags (Whole Foods 5 cent donation, other retailers with a 5 cent discount, etc.), and an app to remind customers to use reusable bags -- the Safeway coupon app has had a reminder like that on its app for the past 10 years. Not to mention signs in many store parking lots, doors, etc. saying don't forget your reusable bags.
With ongoing COVID, reusable bags were set back significantly in a number of areas. In parts of CA where I used to see few customers paying the fee for super thick plastic bags, since COVID, 75%+ of customers in the store are taking the super thick plastic bags and very few use a reusable bag. Major CA chains like Safeway/Walmart/Walgreens/CVS/Rite Aid do not even offer paper bags most of the time, only choice is the super thick plastic. This is the worst of the worst because you have those super thick plastic bags where one has 6x the plastic of a thin bag and customers just use them like a thin bag (use once and throw away). May as well go back to the thin bags and charge a fee like Chicago and Washington DC -- at least you'll reduce the amount of plastic litter. I think the bigger message here is customers are not buying into these bag regulations in many cases and the result is actually worse for the environment than before the regulations were imposed.
Obviously you can reduce use with a per bag fee. Put a per bag fee on the thin bag and end it there.
It all depends on what value people are getting out of Prime. Some may decide to drop Prime but continue to purchase via delivery from Whole Foods (Amazon wins). Others may decide to just keep paying for Prime and drop the delivery from Whole Foods (free delivery was a money loser, so Amazon wins again).
There may be a few people who decide to drop Prime and drop Whole Foods over this move, but something tells me that is a pretty low number.
Kohl's has a ton of cloth/fashion masks on clearance for 99 cents right now (unless they marked them back up since yesterday). Walmart locations were running various price points back in May-June many with 5 packs of cloth/fashion masks for .25 or $1 and got rid of many of their masks then.
For a variety of reasons, I purchased quite a few of the giveaway masks in May-June, but these did not sell down fast at all.
Based on the surplus of masks and significant markdowns I have observed, I am questioning if mask sales were ever a profitable proposition for many retailers.
It is not only the Delta variant that is going to cause challenges to in-store traffic, but also economic concerns (resulting from what is looking like a stalled recovery resulting from the Delta variant). It is like a one-two punch for retail and especially large enclosed shopping malls.
The other challenge is other things people actually need or have to buy, costing much more than they cost a year or two. Need a new car? You are going to pay much more and have a way harder time negotiating the price down. Need a new appliance? Again you are going to pay more, and wait longer, for it to arrive. Paying more for these things results in folks having less disposable income to go spend at the enclosed shopping mall or other retailer.
The wild card I see is the holiday traffic. Will COVID variants continue or will the holidays bring us a rough cold/flu season (which we haven't experienced in a couple years) that will scare people off?
Many unknowns. Many retailers have responded with decreased inventories, decreased labor, and when you look at stores you can see many are just in survival mode.
My area brought back the mask requirement indoors a few days ago and in my store visits over the past weekend I noticed much less traffic in stores than I have been seeing lately. It was also odd given it was the beginning of the month as usually that is busy.
Also, no shortage of folks around who are coughing/sneezing ... kind of makes me want to stay out of stores. In some stores it feels like flu season.
Well, given 30-40% of healthcare workers are not vaccinated based on a lot of estimates we are seeing, I think it is a pretty tall statement to say those who are not vaccinated do not care how this virus affects others. Certainly those healthcare workers care. Some who are not vaccinated care how the vaccine may affect themself or others and are not vaccinating for that reason.
Those who are vaccinated and behave as if "invincible" are in just as dangerous of a position as those who are not vaccinated. Given the vaccinated are spreading Delta variant and have the same viral load as those who are unvaccinated per the CDC per that outbreak in MA, clearly when you have an invincible individual who is sick, in a store, and coughing/sneezing without covering their nose/mouth, you have a dangerous situation from a virus spread perspective.
Everyone needs to be careful and mindful of distancing, hygiene, and cleanliness. Vaccine or not.
Quite different customer base between Dollar General and Target.
I'd say Walmart is a closer bet but Walmart already tried to drop small Walmarts all over Dollar General territory and it did not end well for them.
It would not end well for Target either. It would end even worse.
To be clear, Apple is requiring masks in half (emphasis on HALF) of its stores effective today. This will only be in locations that are in "COVID Hotspots" or where there is a state or local mandate. Emphasis on WHERE THERE IS A STATE OR LOCAL MANDATE.
So given there are state or local mandates in a variety of areas, Apple's policy is not really any different than any other retailer operating in such areas.
The employer will then be liable if the employee gets sick or has other complications from the vaccine. Legal nightmare waiting to happen. The vaccine makers are not liable under the emergency use authorization. That will change once the vaccines have full FDA approval.
Surface to person transmission is minimal yet as cleaning guidelines, etc. have been made more lax, cases have started to spike up. May want to revisit if surface to person transmission is really minimal; especially with these new variants....