Rolling out the recession playbook: We’re not technically in a recession, but boy it’s sure starting to feel like one. Take Kroger. Rodney McMullen, told CNBC earlier this month that the company is seeing an increase in coupon downloads, meals cooked at home, and an embrace of private label. And it’s not just Kroger. Target has intentionally skewed its inventory mix toward food and household essentials. Walmart has its eye on winning more sales from its most loyal customers, and so does Kroger. McMullen said the company’s loyal customers tend to spend 10 times more than an occasional shopper. Uh yeah: give the loyal people whatever they want. —Chloe Riley
Tech is a tool: Human connection will always be needed, no matter how crazy good the technology starts getting. That’s the word from Walmart’s chief people officer Donna Morris, who just wrote an op-ed in Fortune about the way the company leverages tech to aid employees, not replace them. For instance, she says: Walmart started using high-speed palletizing robotics in our distribution centers, thereby removing one of the toughest parts of the job for employees — material handling. A job that used to require employees to lift tens of thousands of pounds now requires minimal lifting. The system also optimizes freight and creates pallets that are ready to go straight from a truck to a store shelf, freeing up associates to work with customers more than materials. Now that’s some smart tech. —CR
Camel milk and so much more: Finally, a cult that is good for you! Well, that’s what those invested in the upscale Los Angeles market “Erewhon” (Nowhere spelled backwards…well, almost) will tell you. The supermarket’s roots are in Boston, where it began operations in the 1960s in an effort to fill bodies with the very best that earth has to offer. The brand is now on the rise, thanks to celebrities becoming frequent shoppers at a number of stores in California. However, if you go there you better have a healthy wallet. Desert Farms camel milk (dubbed the closest thing to human breast milk — gasp) goes for $21.99 for a half liter. Pure Lune sea moss gel is sold for $32.99, and a strawberry glaze smoothie, a Hailey Bieber favorite (obviously mocked by Team Selena Gomez) can fetch you $17. But hey, grocers take notice: in an inflationary environment, this place isn’t shying away from high prices. They know their market. —Bill Wilson
Who’s got the cheapest milk? Shoppers are hungry for deals, especially when it comes to staples. So who’s claiming they have the cheapest milk right now? According to one mom who went on a milk hunt: the cheapest milk at the five stores she visited in Central Virginia was Aldi: $3.03 per gallon (for private label milk) and then a tie at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods: $6.99 per gallon at both for private label organic milk. Check out the comments though: it’s not about price for everyone. Some shoppers just want milk that tastes good, whatever the cost. —CR
Side of ranch with your wings, I mean, ice cream? Hmm … this cake is a little bland. It could really use a scoop of Ranch. Yes, that’s right: Hidden Valley Ranch ice cream is coming to Walmart. The Van Leeuwen brand will soon be getting frozen space, and Hidden Valley Ranch even has an eating tip for it: “[Add] scoops of ice cream with crushed pretzels or potato chips for that perfect salty crunch.” Before you turn your taste buds away from the launch, Walmart loaded up with Kraft macaroni and cheese ice cream last year and the flavor sold out in just a few days and continues to be a hit. The Hidden Valley Ranch ice cream will be released on March 20 and will be offered for a limited time — until May 28 to be exact — or when the product sells out. Gird your tastebuds. —BW
According to an op-ed in Fortune magazine by Walmart’s chief people officer Donna Morris, technology will always be there to aid human workers, not replace them. Palletizing robots, however, are now used in Walmart’s distribution centers removing “one of the toughest parts of the job for employees — material handling.” Does that sound like technology will be there to aid the workforce and not replace workers?
Let us know in the comments below or email your thoughts to SN Executive Editor Chloe Riley at [email protected].