business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Publix announced that it "is donating a total of $1 million to nonprofit organizations, including the American Red Cross and United Way, supporting relief efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Ian. 

"In addition, on Sept. 30, Publix is activating a companywide donation campaign, allowing customers and associates to help people affected by the hurricane. Donations may be made in any amount at checkout. One hundred percent of donated funds will go to the American Red Cross, enabling them to respond to and help people recover from this disaster. The end date for the campaign will be determined based on customer response."

The degree of devastation in Florida is extraordinary, and, as usual, retailers such as Publix have stepped up to serve their communities - going above and beyond wherever and whenever possible.

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Household spending rose by a solid 0.4% in August after dropping a revised 0.2% in July, the Commerce Department said Friday. The August increase was just 0.1% after accounting for inflation. The higher spending came amid signs that inflation, already close to a four-decade high, has become increasingly entrenched in the U.S. economy despite the Federal Reserve’s aggressive moves to tighten monetary policy.

"The personal-consumption expenditures price index rose 6.2% year-over-year in August, down from a 6.4% in July, according to Friday’s report. On a monthly basis the index rose 0.3%, up from a 0.1% decline the prior month."

•  Reuters reports that Kroger plans to terminate its agreement with Cigna Corp.’s subsidiary Express Scripts, saying that the company has an "unsustainable pricing model."

According to the story, "Kroger said it has made several attempts since February to negotiate with the pharmacy benefit manager for a 'more equitable and fair contract that lowers cost, increases access, and delivers greater transparency, but there has been little to no progress to date.'

"Kroger said more than 90% of Kroger Health’s customers will not be affected by a termination of the deal, but if a new agreement is not reached by Dec. 31, most Express Scripts’ commercial customers won’t be able to fill prescriptions at Kroger stores."

• reports that the New Jersey legislature will consider bills that will force Costco to sell gasoline to anyone who pulls up to its pumps, not just its card-carrying members.

According to the story, the legislation, if passed,  "would require retail membership clubs in the Garden State to permit anyone to purchase gasoline at their pumps, not just paid members.  The measures don’t mention Costco by name, but this comes three months after the company switched to restricting sales of their often-cheaper gas in New Jersey to those with membership cards. For years, everyone had been allowed to fill up there."

Some context from the story:

"In 2004, Costco tried to limit gas to members only but was told by the state that it violated New Jersey fuel laws.

"In June, however, state officials said there are no consumer laws that would forbid Costco’s members-only policy this time. A state Treasury Department spokeswoman said it has no restriction on gas sales, as long as motor fuels taxes are paid.

"A basic Costco membership is $60 and includes access to gas stations at the stores.

The new bills argue that limiting gas to members harms 'the public interest' by decreasing the number of available gas stations."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp., Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and other big restaurant chains are joining to spend millions of dollars to try to overturn a new California law that could set the state’s minimum wage for the fast food industry as high as $22 an hour next year.

"The 'Save Local Restaurants' coalition said Friday it has raised around $12.7 million to fight the law, known as the FAST Recovery Act. Corporate brands have contributed $9.9 million and individual franchisees have given $2 million, including owners of KFC and McDonald’s restaurants. Trade associations account for the rest, the coalition said.

"The coalition wants to postpone the implementation of the law, set to begin Jan. 1, and let voters decide through the state’s referendum process whether to permanently block the law in 2024. Opponents need to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures for the referendum to take place, and to put implementation of the law on hold until the vote is held."

•  In the UK, the Daily Mail reports that "Tesco is speeding up its promise to cut food waste in half – bringing its target forward by five years to 2025.  And in a first for a big retailer, store bosses must now meet targets to cut food waste or miss out on performance-related bonuses.

"For top executives, hitting these targets are worth tens of thousands of pounds or more in Tesco shares."