business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The National Retail Federation (NRF) is out with a report saying that Valentine’s Day spending is expected to reach $23.9 billion this year, up from $21.8 billion in 2021 and the second-highest year on record … More than half (53 percent) of U.S. consumers plan to celebrate the holiday in 2022, up from 52 percent in 2021. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of those celebrating indicate it is important to do so given the current state of the pandemic.

"According to the survey, shoppers expect to spend an average of $175.41 per person on Valentine’s Day gifts, up from $164.76 in 2021. The increase comes as many intend to spend more on significant others or spouses.

"Candy (56 percent), greeting cards (40 percent) and flowers (37 percent) remain the most popular gift items this Valentine’s Day."

That's interesting, because I've talked to a number of retailers who are concerned that the timing of the Super Bowl - it occurs on Sunday, February 13, the day before Valentine's Day - could mean diminished spending on the holiday.  We'll see.

•  The Washington Post reports that Florida's "orange crop will be the smallest since World War II, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report earlier this month.

"And the threats to Florida’s 'liquid gold' continue: Weather forecasters predict this weekend’s freezing temperatures in Florida will further hurt the season’s crop."

The result, almost inevitably, will be higher prices at retail.

"Like most groceries, orange juice prices have been going up," the Post writes.  "In 2021, orange juice prices rose 13.8 percent, according to the USDA, and according to market research firm Nielsen, retail prices of orange juice have increased another 5.73 percent this month. The 2021 increase in orange juice prices was roughly twice the rate of increase in the cost of groceries."

The Post notes that "Florida is the country’s largest producer of juice oranges, at its peak producing 244 million boxes of oranges annually. This year, the USDA predicts that will fall to only 44.5 million."

•  Fox News reports that "Coffee giant Starbucks is facing another union push. This time, it's in Atlanta.

"The Starbucks on Howell Mill Road is the latest in a growing number of stores seeking to unionize. However, it's the first to do so in Georgia, according to Starbucks Workers United. … In a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, Starbucks Workers United claimed that while the company increased its earnings during the pandemic, employees, otherwise known as partners, 'have not shared in this prosperity.'

"The group further claimed that it endures 'unprecedented instability in the workplace' and 'witnessed unfair retaliation.'

"The employees have also felt like they were being 'silenced or ignored.'

The story notes that "last month, a Starbucks store in downtown Buffalo, New York, became the first location to unionize in Starbucks’ 50-year history … Individual stores in Massachusetts, Arizona, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee and Starbucks’ home city of Seattle have petitioned the labor board for union elections.

"Additional stores in Buffalo have also attempted to unionize."