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    Published on: August 11, 2020

    The last few days brought news that Amazon is negotiating with mall company Simon to put fulfillment centers in empty former Sears and JC Penney locations.  There also was a report that retailers ranging from Shake Shack to Sears were looking at empty stores as being an opportunity to expand their footprints at a fraction of the price that such moves would've cost just a few months ago.  This suggests an additional strategic opening for many retailers ... and KC is all over it, pushing for more retailers to make unconventional moves appropriate for extraordinary times.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    There was a provocative piece in Forbes the other day by columnist Richard Kestenbaum in which he suggested that it is time for Kroger and Albertsons to merge, allowing them to better compete effectively with Walmart and Amazon.

    An excerpt:

    "With both Walmart and Amazon having virtually unlimited capital and technology expertise to succeed in online grocery, existing grocers are in a tight spot. They have to invest enormous resources and reconsider their store locations just to survive as the industry transitions.

    "There’s no indication that the two companies are exploring a combination but putting Kroger and Albertson’s together would combine the #2 and #3 competitors in the market … as a combined company, Kroger-Albertson’s would be able to marshal the capital to develop technology and build the human resources to implement training, operations and customer service to compete effectively in online grocery. As we’ve seen in many industries, succeeding online is different than just opening another store. The leadership, attitude, operational efficiencies and approaches are not the same as traditional retail. If the two companies combine their resources and top leadership commits to make the investment and changes required, it can happen.

    "Without that commitment, Kroger and Albertson’s will find their leading positions will continue to fall. Their physical stores will simultaneously become less competitive as customers make fewer store visits. Stores will close and the downward spiral we have seen at so many retailers that take old approaches to new threats will take hold. Kroger and Albertson’s have to adapt now while they’re still strong. If they wait, they may never catch up."

    As for antitrust issues, Kestenbaum writes, "In any time until now, two such large competitors would not be permitted to combine. The government and competitors would object, saying the transaction is anti-competitive and that would effectively prevent a deal from happening. But now, because of the acceleration to online catalyzed by the pandemic, there’s a much greater competitive threat to both companies and the argument supporting the transaction is much stronger. Both companies’ long-term survival is at stake and they must act."

    You can read the piece here.

    KC's View:

    It is a provocative thought, albeit one that has absolutely no chance of becoming reality.

    But … it does make the same point that was talked about a lot here on MNB back when the Obama administration prevented Staples from merging with Office Depot.  I argued then and would argue now that antitrust laws that look to preserve competition actually are outmoded and don't reflect 21st century realities.  While the feds said that a Staples-Office Depot combination would hurt consumers by removing a competitor, I thought that it was at least possible that letting them merge would actually give them greater competitive heft to do battle with Amazon and Walmart, each of which sells many/most of the items sold by office supply stores.

    Same potentially goes for Kroger and Albertsons.  I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that they can't compete against Amazon and Walmart without merging, but I take Kestenbaum's point.

    You can't build a competitive 21st century economy by observing 19th and 20th century rules and trends.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    "Target is set to emerge as a major winner from the coronavirus pandemic. Investors just need to look past some near-term challenges."  In the last quarter, ended May 2, "Target said it saw digital-sales levels that it wasn’t planning for until three years from now. But the company’s lean model of shipping goods directly from its retail outlets paid off as store employees were able to quickly pivot to fulfilling orders. Some 80% of digital sales were fulfilled from stores during the quarter.

    The story goes on:

    "Some worry this model could become a long-term weakness if Target eventually needs to start investing more in warehouses and logistics. But Barclays analyst Karen Short argues that Target has plenty of runway left on its existing model by making more efficient use of its retail network. She estimates that this year Target will generate $341 of revenue a square foot of retail space, compared with $510 for Walmart.  This suggests that Target could allocate more space in its existing stores to inventory and fulfillment operations without sacrificing retail sales."

    KC's View:

    This is part of the larger story that I talked about in my FaceTime commentary this morning - retailers that are looking to maximize their e-commerce potential by taking advantage of some of the options made available to them by a weakened commercial real estate market that was created by the pandemic that closed so many stores.

    If store traffic is down, use stores to fulfill e-commerce orders.  If e-commerce continues to grow, find other satellite locations to serve as micro-fulfillment centers;  they could be vacant department stores that would be mini-warehouses, or they could be vacant Main Street storefronts that could serve as click-and-collect locations.

    This will become especially important as the holidays approach - it is a pretty good bet that e-commerce;'s growth could accelerate even more, since it seems unlikely that the pandemic is going to decelerate any time soon.

    This isn't something that just Amazon or Walmart or Target or Kroger or Albertsons can do.  Any retailer that is thinking ambitiously and aggressively ought to be looking for opportunities where they can test new approaches and innovate both in the core and around the edges.

    Because if you don't, the competition will.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    Charged reports that "Aldi is developing its own cashierless Amazon Go rival and is on the hunt for automatic product recognition technologies," reaching out to potential technology providers and looking for "test-ready solutions."

    According to the story, "It has specifically requested companies who have developed technology which will enable the automatic recognition of products, either through cameras in store, in shopping carts or via users smartphones."

    These moves, Charged reports, come at the same time as the company seems to be focusing on e-commerce as a source of extended long-term growth for the company.

    KC's View:

    It would seem to me that the limited assortment model would be perfect for checkout free technology … though I have to wonder if the technology would create a higher price image than the likes of Aldi would want to have.

    Just wondering.  I remember someone very smart telling me that while electronic shelf labels in a store are very efficient, they are the wrong move for a value-oriented store, because they communicate high prices.  I had no idea … which is why I like to hang out with people smarter than me.  (That's a really, really big group…)

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    The Wall Street Journal reports that United Parcel Service (UPS) plans to hit big shippers - companies that ship more than 25,000 packages a week - with "hefty fees" during the upcoming end-of-year holiday shopping season.

    According to the story, "The fees will test the ability of large retailers such as Inc. and Target Corp. to offset costs during a holiday season when skittish shoppers will avoid crowded stores and rely more on online orders … The newly planned fees come as UPS as well as rival FedEx Corp. try to offset significantly higher costs from the influx of packages flowing through their network."

    The fees, the Journal writes, "could total as much as $3 a package for ground shipments and other lower-priced shipping options and up to $4 a package for air shipments bound for residences.  That is significantly higher than the last time UPS instituted additional fees during a peak holiday season, in 2018. Surcharges then reached 28 cents on ground shipments and up to 99 cents for some air shipments."

    KC's View:

    I have a question about this.

    In normal times, wouldn't a company want to give best customers lower fees and lower prices than less active customers?

    I get that these are not normal times.  E-commerce is accelerating, and expensive.  And the US Postal Service (USPS) seems less and less dependable as an option with every passing day.  But I'm sort of surprised that the e-commerce retailers and shipping companies couldn't come up with a better way of doing this that didn't seem to penalize success.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, we've now had 5,251,446 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 166,192 deaths and 2,715,934 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there now have been 20,275,611 confirmed coronavirus cases, 739,512 fatalities, and 13,201,357 reported recoveries.

    •  The Washington Post points out that research from Johns Hopkins University shows that it took six months for global coronavirus cases to reach 10 million, but then just six weeks to double to 20 million.

    The Post goes on:  "More than half the cases reported to date were found in just three countries: the United States, Brazil and India. Though the United States continues to outstrip all other nations with a total count of more than 5 million cases, India has seen the largest increase over the past week, with more than 314,000 new infections reported since Aug. 4."

    •  Some context from the Wall Street Journal:

    "The accelerated spread of the coronavirus has spurred higher testing positivity rates, hospitalizations and case counts in a number of hard-hit states in the last month. But the number of new coronavirus cases reported each day in the U.S. has fallen since mid-July, according to Johns Hopkins data … Thirteen states - Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Virginia - have seen their seven-day average of new confirmed cases jump higher than the two-week average as of Aug. 8, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data. That held true for 44 states a month earlier, reflecting a decline in reported cases in many parts of the country.

    "The seven-day average for new cases has been generally trending down for more than two weeks, from more than 67,000 on July 22 to 53,905 on Saturday. Since July 26, the seven-day average has been less than the 14-day average, a signal that case counts have broadly been ticking down."

    The Journal goes on:  "The drop in confirmed cases could be tied partly to a drop in testing. In 29 states and Washington, D.C., the seven-day average number of tests per 1,000 people was down Sunday compared with a week ago, according to Johns Hopkins data. Demand for testing has outstripped supply, even though testing and contact tracing is considered essential by health experts to curb the spread of the virus.

    "Deaths related to Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, are still trending up in 19 states, including California, Georgia, Illinois and North Carolina, according to the Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data."

    •  Michael T. Osterholm, professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, have co-authored an op-ed piece in the New York Times that starts out this way:

    "In just weeks we could almost stop the viral fire that has swept across this country over the past six months and continues to rage out of control. It will require sacrifice but save many thousands of lives.

    "We believe the choice is clear. We can continue to allow the coronavirus to spread rapidly throughout the country or we can commit to a more restrictive lockdown, state by state, for up to six weeks to crush the spread of the virus to less than one new case per 100,000 people per day.

    "That’s the point at which we will be able to limit the increase in new cases through aggressive public health measures, just as other countries have done. But we’re a long way from there right now."

    The next six months, they write, "could make what we have experienced so far seem like just a warm-up to a greater catastrophe. With many schools and colleges starting, stores and businesses reopening, and the beginning of the indoor heating season, new case numbers will grow quickly."

    You can read the piece here.

    •  From the Washington Post:

    " Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that the country has become the first to approve a coronavirus vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, with production and tens of thousands of inoculations to follow.

    "Officials have pledged to vaccinate millions of people, including teachers and front line health-care workers, with the experimental coronavirus vaccine beginning this month, raising global alarm that the country is jumping dangerously ahead of critical, large scale testing that is essential to determine if it is safe and effective."

    •  ABC News reports that Dollar Tree has changed its mind yet again - it now will require customers to wear masks when entering its Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores.

    It was just weeks ago that the company said that it would request but not require masks, which was just two weeks after it said it would require masks.

    Dollar Tree said it now wants to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

    I don't know what the hell they're dithering about.  This is just patently absurd … and made even more so when its last reversal, away from a mask requirement, occurred as most of the nation's big retailers were mandating the wearing of masks in their stores.

    •  The Seattle Times has a story about how difficult it is to get a definitive answer about the efficacy of masks in preventing or slowing down the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.  An effective study wouldn't just take time, but it also would require two groups - one wearing masks, one not - that could be studies … which would be sort of unethical, since it would leave the unmasked group potentially exposed to the virus.

    And so, the Times writes, "officials considering mask mandates - as well as citizens weighing how and when to mask up - are forced to act on imperfect evidence. But the path is getting clearer as the sheer volume and variety of studies increases. Some are still preliminary and none meet the so-called gold standard of large, randomized, controlled trials. But collectively they are building a compelling case for universal masking as a low-tech way to help rein in the spread of the virus, and perhaps avoid the need for more painful restrictions.

    "The new research comes from laboratory tests of masks; observational reports and deep dives into the data from places where masks were and weren’t embraced. There are compelling case studies, including a beauty shop in Missouri where mask-wearing by two unknowingly infected beauticians and dozens of customers seems to have prevented an outbreak. Then there’s the summer camp in Georgia where kids sang and cheered and didn’t wear masks, and more than 250 people got infected."

    There's also common sense, and the notion that basic decency suggests that one would like to do everything possible to protect the people arounds you from possible infection.  

    •  Fox Business reports that "Clorox CEO-elect Linda Rendle said Monday that the company is 'making more disinfecting products that we ever have before' in an effort to keep up with demand during the coronavirus pandemic."

    "Since January, we're able to make 100 million more disinfecting products than we did before, that's a 50% increase," she said.  "And specific to wipes, we're making nearly 1 million packages every day and shipping them to stores."  However, the company also says that it will take until 2021 for stores to be fully stocked with Clorox products.

    •  The Washington Post reports that "New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that he plans to welcome 700,000 students back to school buildings for in-person instruction for the start of the academic year in September, an extraordinary announcement that comes while other big cities plan for remote learning as the pandemic continues to rack the nation.

    "The city is home to the nation’s largest public school system, serving more than a million children, and is being closely watched by education leaders as it prepares to open its doors. Under the plan, approved by the state this week, students who opted for in-person instruction will still do much of their learning virtually and will only head to classrooms on certain days to prevent crowding in classrooms and hallways."

    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that "in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said the state was recommending that schools wait to begin in-person classes until Sept. 28, citing a rise in cases over the past five to six weeks and an increasing number of infections in children, among other things."

    •  From National Public Radio:

    "A coronavirus outbreak has been discovered at the Georgia high school that drew national attention last week after photos and videos of crowded hallways and unmasked students went viral on social media.

    "Nine people at North Paulding High School tested positive for the coronavirus after the first week of in-person instruction, according to officials in Paulding County, an outer suburb of Atlanta.

    "The school is now 'temporarily switching' to virtual learning for two days while its facilities are being disinfected, according to a letter from Brian Otott, the county school district superintendent."

    Of course, the other thing that is being purged from the school is freedom of speech that some students exercised by posting pictures of crowded halls and unmasked students online.  The administration actually suspended two students for posting the pictures … which tells is everything we need to know about what this district's priorities are.

    •  The Chicago Sun Times reports that "Loyola University Chicago students will live in on-campus housing this fall, the university announced Thursday.

    "Citing COVID-19 health conditions and future uncertainty, the university announced the decision to close all residence halls for the upcoming semester, according to an email sent to the school community. The school had previously planned to put all on-campus students in single dorm rooms, with some living in the nearby Hampton Inn to allow for social distancing.

    “We simply cannot put our on-campus residential students in harm’s way and risk further disruption to them and their families if they needed to move home mid-semester because of an outbreak in one of our residence halls or as a result of the state and city reverting back to Phase 3,” the school administration said in the email.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) are out with a new report saying that the rate of Covid-19 cases among children in the US was up by 40 percent in the last 2 weeks of July, according to a new data report.

    Three states are responsible for a quarter of the numbers - California, Florida, and Arizona.

    •  The Detroit Free Press reports that "the Big Ten is expected to cancel its fall college football season in a historic move that stems from concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic … Multiple sources said early Monday morning that presidents voted 12-2 to end the season, though the Big Ten said Monday afternoon no official vote had taken place."

    The story goes on:  "Michigan and Michigan State - which both have physicians as presidents - were among the schools in favor of not playing this fall."

    However, subsequent stories from other news outlets have said that the plan is to delay the start of the season, not cancel it completely.

    •  From the Department of Unintended But Positive Consequences:

    The New York Post reports on a new poll saying that 57 percent of Americans are paying more attention to the quality of their own breath - because the wearing of face masks has made them much more aware of it.

    Of course, that doesn't mean that everybody is doing something about it - " 35 percent of Americans polled admit they don’t brush their teeth twice a day, and nearly one in 10 said they don’t even brush once a day."

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    The Financial Times reports that a California Superior Court judge has ruled that Uber and Lyft drivers in the state must be classified as employees, not independent contractors, in what the story says may be "the most significant blow yet to the gig economy business model unless it is halted by an appeals court."

    The California Attorney General had sought the reclassification, arguing that "drivers were facing immediate harm because they did not get sick pay or other employee benefits." 

    FT writes that "Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman granted a preliminary injunction ordering the reclassification, which would immediately enforce a law enacted last year that Uber and Lyft say will make their businesses unworkable in the state. He stayed the injunction for 10 days, however, during which time the companies have said they will appeal."

    The ruling could end up being moot.   There is a statewide ballot measure on which California voters will be weighing in that would, FT writes, "exempt app-based workers from the law cited in the current case. Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies have committed more than $100m to campaign for the exemption."

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    Axios reports that McDonald's is suing its former CEO, Steve Easterbrook, looking to claw back tens of millions of dollars in severance payments.

    McDonald's is charging that Easterbrook "took part in and concealed undisclosed relationships with company employees," and even gave one of those employees shares in the company - all in violation of company policy.

    Easterbrook was fired last year because of a consensual relationship with an employee that violated company policy.  Axios reports that "McDonald's claims that Easterbrook defrauded the company by covering up these additional relationships and wants to recuperate some $40 million in stock options and other compensation it let him keep after his ouster."

    Current CEO Chris Kempczinski, in a company memo, writes, "McDonald’s does not tolerate behavior from any employee that does not reflect our values.  As we recommit to our values, now, more than ever, is the time to lean in to what we stand for and act as a positive force for change."

    KC's View:

    One might reasonably ask why McDonald's allowed a fired CEO, found to be violating company policies, to walk away with $40 million in compensation.

    One also might reasonably ask if a store employee found guilty of stealing a couple of hamburgers would be treated as kindly and with the same levels of generosity.

    I think we all know the answers to both questions.

    Want to have policies with teeth?  Make sure that everyone knows that the same rules apply to everybody.  At this point, Easterbrook needs to be made an example of, and every other company ought to use this situation to drive the importance of such policies home.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    •  Kroger last week "announced the launch of a contactless payments pilot across the QFC division, located in Seattle, Wash., allowing customers to use their mobile device for a more seamless checkout experience. The pilot includes the acceptance of Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay, mobile banking apps and contactless chip cards, underpinned by near-field communication (NFC) technology … The QFC pilot supports the more than 30 policy and process changes Kroger has implemented since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to promote social distancing and safeguard associates, customers and communities."

    •  From the Washington Business Journal:

    "Amazon is inching ever closer to opening two cashier-less grocery stores in the D.C. area. We know this - though Amazon still won't acknowledge as much - because it’s hiring for them.

    The e-commerce giant has posted several openings related to Amazon Go Grocery stores in Greater Washington. While most are for work inside the stores, others suggest Amazon is looking to expand its physical retail footprint beyond what is already known.

    "Two of the jobs are for store managers and two more are for associate managers. The new hires would be pioneers in the region, as Amazon has yet to open any of these stores in the area, not even the smaller Amazon Go convenience stores with dozens of locations across the country."

    •  Variety reports that "Amazon is sunsetting the Twitch Prime name - relaunching it as Prime Gaming, which will continue to be available for no extra cost to all of the company’s more than 150 million Prime members worldwide … By moving it outside the Twitch umbrella with the rebranding strategy, the ecommerce giant hopes to broaden awareness of the perk, which offers a bucket of free game titles and exclusive in-game content each month."

    •   The New York Times reports on pushback from both professional and amateur astronomers against approvals given recently to Amazon for the launch of 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit.  The satellites, referred to as the Project Kuiper constellation, are designed to enable high-speed internet in remote and under-served communities.

    Astronomers, the story says, are concerned that the satellites - which more than double the number of active satellites currently orbiting the earth - because they can negatively impact the images and data collected for research.  In addition, the story says, there is no regulating authority establishing best practices and standards for the various companies getting into the low-Earth satellite business.  

    Michele Bannister, a planetary astronomer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, puts it this way:   “We don’t have an industry body that’s producing good corporate citizenship on the part of all of these enthusiastic companies that want to launch, and we don’t have any regulatory setup in place that’s providing clear guidelines back to the industry … To me, honestly, it feels like putting a bunch of planes up and then not having air traffic control.”

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    •  Walmart has announced that as part of its broader sustainability agenda, it plans to source all of its beef products sustainably by 2025.

    Walmart says, "We aspire to source our fresh beef products more sustainably by 2025, including prioritizing soil health, animal welfare and responsible use of antibiotics. We will continue working with suppliers to improve grain sourcing and grazing management practices across a total of 12 million acres (or more than nine million football fields)... We expect our suppliers will not tolerate animal abuse of any kind and support our position on the judicious use of antibiotics in farm animals."

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    •  Western New York-based Tops Friendly Markets announced that it "will begin piloting an innovative and interactive in-store food waste program at six of its locations allowing customers to purchase food nearing its sell-by date.  Items like produce, meat, deli, bakery, and dairy, may be listed at up to 50 percent off on the Flashfood app and then available for pick up at one of the designated Tops Friendly Market locations."

    The company sais that it "will post flash sales of its surplus food items on the mobile Flashfood app available on Google Play or the Apple Store.  Shoppers can search and purchase food directly on the app and then collect their purchased items at the designated Flashfood area at Tops."

    •  C-store retailer Cumberland Farms has announced the opening of a new concept - Farmhouse Fresh To Go, which it describes as being inside a traditional convenience store and "inspired by a traditional European bakery-café and offers a wide variety of freshly made sandwiches, bakery products and specialty coffee."

    The menu "features a wide selection of handmade sandwiches and wraps made daily with freshly-baked bread, as well as bakery products made from premium, quality ingredients. The menu also includes Paninis, Pasties (traditional meat pies), pizza, muffins, cookies and specialty coffee drinks."

    The Farmhouse Fresh To Go installation is at a single Cumberland Farms store in Westborough, Massachusetts, with plans to roll it out to other New England locations before the end of the year.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    •  McLane Company announced that longtime president-CEO Grady Rosier will retire at the end of the month, and will succeeded by Tony Frankenberger, who will also maintain his responsibilities as president of McLane Grocery.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    We'll be back next week with an all-new podcast, featuring an interview with Steve Dennis, a strategy and innovation thought leader who is out with a new book, "Remarkable Retail:  How To Win & Keep Customers In The Age Of Digital Disruption."

    In the meantime … Sterling Hawkins and I will be doing a segment for "Brave New World," the Retail Tomorrow virtual learning series that will be out with a new episode Wednesday, looking at how e-commerce has achieved 10 years of growth in 10 weeks.  We'll be looking at the Amazon dark store in Woodland Hills, California, which serves as a starting point for a broader discussion of new trends in e-commerce fulfillment.

    You can sign up to participate here.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    On Thursday, before taking off for a few days, I did a FaceTime commentary in which I talked about the roving underground parties reportedly taking place all over New York City (and, undoubtedly, in a lot of other places) where people can congregate in tight spaces without social distancing and without wearing masks, giving in to a desire to socialize and deluding themselves that the pandemic's threats are in the history books.  It proves, I said, that Forrest Gump's mother was right:  Stupid is as stupid does.

    In that same faceTime, I addressed some recent criticism from readers who feel that MNB's coronavirus coverage is a) off-mission, and b) too political.  While I take those criticisms seriously, I disagree - I think the pandemic is one of the most important stories of the year and maybe of MNB's 18+ year existence, with enormous implications for retail, and so covering it is absolutely on-brand.  (I acknowledge that I write about it from a variety of angles, some of them tangential and even digressive, but I think that's also very much on-brand.)

    As for being political - I've done my best to write about the science, and have done my absolute best to not be political.  In fact, I remain amazed that so much of the reaction to the pandemic has been political.  But if it had not taken this turn, I would be writing pretty much the same stories with the same attitude … if this seems political, that is other people's perception, not mine.  I still need to write the stories, and try hard not to be ideological - because, as Pete Hamill taught us, ideology is a lousy substitute for actual thought.

    One MNB reader responded:

    Been a reader for a long-time.  By and large I really look forward to Morning News Beat each day.  This morning however I watched your “Face Time with the Content Guy” segment and I was first, frustrated by your rant regarding the underground parties in New York.  Not because I don’t agree they are stupid or potentially dangerous. It is because you sound like an old curmudgeon.  And by the way, I am about your age.  I agree, stupid people will be stupid.  I don’t think however, you should waste your time or mine playing the role of Grandpa!

    This leads to my next point.  In the latter part of the same FaceTime, you commented that some of your readers think you are getting away from the morning news beat mission.  You immediately let them know they were wrong (I think without counting to 10 first).  I cannot tell you if you have drifted from your mission or not (I have not seen your mission statement), however I can tell you that you are getting away from your normal process of relating just about everything you comment about, to our industry.   I don’t know if it is only because of the Covid-19 crisis or that we are getting close to an election, however you have drifted. 

    I don’t mind drifting to sports or a wine recommendation every now and then.  I don't, however, enjoy the preaching about what people are not doing right in their lives.  Leave that to the preachers and politicians.  Apparently I am not alone in this view.  I will continue to read and listen because the morning news beat  is very good; and your interview with Scott Moses this week was as good as it gets.  When you start to drift away from what you normally do, I will move on to the next article.  Thanks for listening.

    A few things here.

    I agree - the interview with Scott Moses is as good as it gets.

    FYI … I've been doing pandemic wrap-ups daily since early March, but I look forward to the day when I don't have to do one.  I wish that day would come tomorrow.  But that's not likely.

    Grandpa?  Really?  (That's sort of hitting below the belt…)   If you've been reading MNB for any length of time, then you know that I've been getting cranky about certain things for more than 18 years.  I wouldn't call it getting cranky, though.  I like to think of it as righteous outrage.  And preaching, to some extent, is what I do … which is why I often refer to MNB as my soapbox.

    One other thing.  You suggest that I didn't count to 10 before disagreeing with the readers who criticized me.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Just ask Michael Sansolo, who I often call about these things to talk them through before I write them.  The conversations are frequent and, I'm sure he'd say, seemingly endless.  I may be wrong, but I at least try to be thoughtful about it.

    MNB reader Jim Antrup weighed in:

    Your FaceTime this morning was very on target, my wife and I have the very same conversation it seems daily and “Stupid is as Stupid Does” some it up perfectly. Also I don’t believe you have taken a political stance at all.

    Keep it up, I enjoy your column and listening daily.

    MNB reader Deborah Faragher wrote:

    While I understand that folks may not like your coverage of the pandemic, not only is it one of the biggest stories of our lifetime, it is having an impact on nearly every single aspect of our lives.  It seems to me that its importance and its effect on everything we do and everywhere we go is certainly worthy of your coverage.  It is especially helpful to see how the virus is being handled by the companies we rely on for our food and everyday essentials and more.  It is sad that it has become political and that seems to be serving to prolong the situation the country finds itself in.  Your coverage is helpful and I, for one, will continue to read it with interest.

    MNB reader Dr. Allen F. Wysocki wrote:

    I agree with you 100 percent. Keep telling the Covid story. I have really enjoyed tuning in to FaceTime each morning.

    MNB reader Joe Axford wrote:

    KC I think your Coronavirus coverage has been just right, and not political at all. I would venture to say the people complaining are the same people who won't wear masks or get vaccines.

    MNB reader Mary Henslee wrote:

    Just wanted to add my voice to the many others I am sure you are hearing from this morning, to say I agree that you are covering COVID19 correctly and appropriately. The pandemic clearly has had the biggest impact on retail of any major event of our time, and as such requires daily coverage.  You have done a good job in reporting the facts and providing useful insights. 

    Please continue to do the right thing, by encouraging both retailers and their customers to do the right thing.

    MNB reader Rich Heiland wrote:

    Totally agree with this morning's video. I have become a fan of MorningNewsBeat because, even though I have nothing to do with the grocery industry other than being a consumer, I find your news and comments about that industry, as well as others, to transcend one category and I often share them with my clients. COVID-19 is the single biggest event of my lifetime (and I will be 74 in September) in terms of the scope, pace and permanence of change and impact on not just business but all aspects of life. I am working with clients right now who are struggling with trying to think strategically when they don't even know what tomorrow will look like. I find MorningNewsBeat to be a valuable resource as I work with them. As you noted many have made this crisis political so it is unavoidable that you from time to time mention politics. As a former journalist your skin is thick enough to take the heat and your instincts are solid. Keep it up!

    Thanks, all.  Your comments mean a lot.

    Published on: August 11, 2020

    Just a bonus FaceTime this morning, about how changing a business model can create effective consumer value.