Friday, June 9, 2017

Phil's Friday Rap

What I'm watching this week.

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This is not about politics. This is about an ill-conceived plan that has no basis in reality. Trump's plan is to charge supermarkets and other retailers a fee to accept food stamps. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the fees would amount to $2.4 billion of new revenue over the next ten years, which would come from a sign up fee based on the type and size of retailer and has to be renewed every five years. The administration has already proposed cutting over $190 billion out of the food stamp program over the next ten years. I can only ask "why?" – and fail to see any logic in the plan; which I'm sure our nations retailers would agree with. Yes, this president was elected with a mission to cut waste out of our nation but effectively taxing retailers (many of whom are already struggling due to price deflation and competition) will only hurt everyone. Smaller stores might well choose to stop accepting SNAP that hurts their shoppers who may not have a wide selection of stores from which to. Perhaps a more realistic way to begin to reduce wasteful spending would be for the US Government to set an example and stop spending our tax dollars on funding living and visiting Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago and Trump's Bedminster Golf Course before we cut out giving food to our fellow Americans who are most in need.

What we need to know… 

One more reason that Amazon continues to be a leader. They are hosting the Alexa Diabetes Challenge competition (in conjunction with Merck) to encourage developers to build apps for people with diabetes to help them manage their disease, with a grand prize of $125,000. Think about the possibilities of having a personal assistant who could remind you to take medication, keep track of what you eat and your blood pressure and immediately send that information to your doctor if anything was found to be out of the proper range.

Just days away from the official opening of Lidl's first round of stores and the company is doing its utmost to shed the Aldi me-too image. First came the glitzy and modern exterior design of the store, which clearly sets it apart from its more plain boxy competitor and the announcement this week that German-born supermodel Heidi Klum will be selling her fashion line exclusively in the Lidl stores during their fashion weeks throughout the year, a move with precedence and success. Back in the day, Joe Antonini one of retail's best merchandisers (not necessarily one of the best CEOs some would correctly argue), signed Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith to a deal that brought her fashion line and lots of cache to the retailer who was best known for cheap and drab hard goods. Have to wonder if with the growing tension between our administration and Chancellor Angela Merkel that having stores open in areas that are Trump Country that tout the connection to Germany will hurt its short term prospects; or that these prospective customers would even want to (or could) dress like Heidi.

Curating food is an art and as we have urged supermarkets before, it is time to evolve "buyers" into "curators" if you want your store and its offerings to stay relevant, especially to Millennials and Gen Z. Of all retailers to open their eyes, Smart & Final has named trained chef Erin Shulman its Taste & Recipe Curator to "help readers or viewers with savory, sweet and health-conscious recipe ideas to incorporate into your summer meals and celebrations – helping folks save time and money"; basically a spokesperson for media – which don't get me wrong is a good thing, just wish they would take Erin and have her work internally with buyers and merchandisers as well.

Bill SB 258 from California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would require that household cleaning products and beauty products used in salons (beauty products sold at retail already comply) list all ingredients and any potential health effects in a pictogram format. The Personal Care Products Council, which opposes the bill, says that adding this requirement causes the supply chain to become complicated if one state requires labels different from the others, that it could create lawsuits and confusion from consumers and could expose trade secrets to competitors.

Have a great weekend! See you at Floriculture and United Fresh next week in Chicago.

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