business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Newsbreak in Kansas City, Missouri, reports that Balls Price Chopper there has opened an in-store CBD boutique that is owned and operated by local CBD manufacturer American Shaman.

Both companies say that the installation is designed to be as prototype that can be used for a future rollout.

•  Overdrive reports that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has "extended the hours of service waiver through Sept. 14 for carriers providing direct assistance in support of COVID-19 relief efforts."

The waiver, which was set to expire today, covers drivers hauling "livestock and livestock feed … medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 … supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants … (and) food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores."

•  It is sometimes hard to figure the things that people yearn for in times of trouble.

For example .. the Wall Street Journal reports on how "in the age of coronavirus, with most flights canceled and vacation plans ruined, would-be fliers are now longing for a taste of a trip that could have been."  Which means, improbably enough, a hankering for airline food - even the airline food that is "flavorless, expensive, and excruciatingly basic."

The Journal reports that "erstwhile travelers snapped up 40,000 snack packs from Imperfect Foods that were originally destined for JetBlue and another airline, the retailer says. In Australia, in-flight catering company Gate Gourmet began selling meals online around June. At one point it sold out, but it has since replenished supplies in some cities, according to its website.

"And in Indonesia, the in-flight caterer owned by flag carrier Garuda Indonesia recently began selling airplane meals online in a promotion called Fly with Meals. The menu included a cheese omelet, spinach-and-pastrami quiche, and two Indonesian dishes with rice."

I miss traveling and I miss getting on planes, but I really try to avoid the food at all costs.  I'm with Anthony Bourdain on this one;  he once told Travel & Leisure that "you’re not digesting your food on the plane, which is why you feel like a horribly bloated beach ball when you get off … The food can’t possibly be that good. It can be edible at best, no matter how hard they try. The conditions that they’re working in, there’s not much they can do.”  His solution:  Sleep as much as possible, and order "scotch on the rocks, they can’t f--k that up."  (I don't do the scotch, but I take his point.)

•  Sparc Group, the 50-50 partnership of Simon Property Group and Authentic Brands Group, is acquiring Lucky Brand, the jeans retailer, for about $140 million.  The deal comes the same week as Sparc Group bought Brooks Brothers for $325 million.

Lucky Brands filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

The question that remains to be answered is whether these deals will successfully prop up retailers with stores in Simon's malls, or if it will be a fruitless investment in a business model with a limited future.

•  It isn't just the US where the mall business model is endangered.

Bloomberg reports that "property developers in the Philippines are considering novel alternative uses for shopping malls as people stay home and prefer to buy things online.

"SM Prime Holdings Inc., the nation’s biggest landlord, is leasing out some of its parking lots for longer-term car storage, while a unit of Ayala Land Inc. plans to convert areas in its shopping centers to e-commerce backend facilities and medical clinics."

The story goes on:  "Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreak has made Filipinos fearful of going about their daily business and they’re seeking to avoid high-traffic spots. That’s putting extra pressure on retail landlords already weathering slump in demand and a recession."

•  CNN reports that " FAT Brands, the owner of Fatburger, is buying the 1950s diner-themed chain Johnny Rockets for $25 million."  It is acquiring the chain from  private equity firm Sun Capital Partners.