I know I’m a killjoy on this topic, but this year besides facing late-term American Capitalism, we are also facing a new pandemic variant* and a Corporate America that is not mandating vaccines for retail workers.
Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie) email thingie tells us:
— Inflation continues to dominate voters’ perceptions of the economy, and things are likely to stay that way through the holiday shopping season. Top Democratic pollsters and others in the party are urging the White House to get more vocal and serious about tackling inflation, perhaps even pinning the blame on big companies raking in cash, WaPo’s Annie Linskey and Ashley Parker reportfrom Nantucket. Some legislators want Biden to talk more about rising prices and what he’s doing to combat them, while others think he should instead emphasize other parts of his economic message.
— Supply-chain woes are front and center in pretty much every Black Friday story. And with consumers concerned about whether their online orders will be fulfilled before Christmas, it could be a boon for brick-and-mortar businesses. (“Shoppers can leave with goods in hand, versus waiting on promised dates from shippers,” a Deloitte exec told CNN.)
But it is the next point that stopped me cold:
— But in-person shopping carries its own risks, especially as major retailers avoid mandating Covid vaccines for employees. “As other industries with workers in public-facing roles, like airlines and hospitals, have moved toward requiring vaccines, retailers have dug in their heels, citing concerns about a labor shortage. And a portion of one of the country’s largest work forces will remain unvaccinated, just as shoppers are expected to flock to stores,” report NYT’s Lauren Hirsch and Sapna Maheshwari.
So, besides trying to get us worked-up about buying lotsa stuff in inflationary times, we are also being encouraged to hit crowded stores as a new variant of the Trump-Virus spreads:
BBC: “The latest is the most heavily mutated version discovered so far – and it has such a long list of mutations that it was described by one scientist as ‘horrific.’ while another told me it was the worst variant they’d seen.”
New York Times: “Scientists are still unclear on how effective vaccines will be against the new variant flagged by a team in South Africa, which displays mutations that might resist neutralization.”
And how can it get any worse? Why, look to America’s Lab for Bad Policy:
A new Dallas Morning News poll finds 23% of Texans are unwilling or unlikely to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Axios’ email thingie tells us that retailers are already doing well!
Retailers will open more stores this year than they close — for the first time since 2017, The Wall Street Journal reports from an analysis of 900+ chains by research company IHL Group.
- Why it matters: “Stores have become integral in fulfilling e-commerce orders. They serve as distribution hubs and convenient places for shoppers to pick up and return online purchases,” per The Journal.
What’s happening: “As the cost of acquiring customers online has skyrocketed, stores … are a less expensive way to attract new shoppers,” The Journal writes (subscription).
Be careful today. If you don’t need it now, this very instant, don’t get peer-pressured into risking your health for a gewgaw that will break 10 minutes after being unwrapped.
Your answer might be as close as your web browser if you really must get some retail therapy.
Related: Crooks and Liars has a piece up on retail stores that are being good to their employees. Maybe the culture is changing?
UPDATE 1: The WaPo
“The holiday shopping season has arrived, and retailers are ringing it in by doing everything from cutting prices to stocking showrooms to lure back customers who stayed at home last year. What the biggest of them are not doing is the one thing the White House and many public health experts have asked them to: mandate that their workers be vaccinated.
“As other industries with workers in public-facing roles, like airlines and hospitals, have moved toward requiring vaccines, retailers have dug in their heels, citing concerns about a labor shortage. And a portion of one of the country’s largest work forces will remain unvaccinated, just as shoppers are expected to flock to stores.”
The WHO designated a new coronavirus strain as “a variant of concern” and named it Omicron.
- Hat tip: Scissorhead Jimmy-T