Mother’s Day is this weekend, and consumers appear ready to shower mothers with more gifts than ever before. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), which has been conducting an annual survey on Mother’s Day spending since 2003, as more people are getting vaccinated and stimulus checks are being distributed, consumers are going all out for moms this year. According to the survey, 83 percent of consumers plan to celebrate Mother’s Day this year. Shoppers plan to spend $220.48 on average, which is about $16 more than they planned to spend last year, and the highest in the survey’s history. This brings total Mother’s Day spending to about $28 billion in the US. Categories like jewelry and electronics are seeing record levels of spending this year. I guess this will help moms everywhere know that they are appreciated. And now on to this week’s logistics news.
- Kroger joins drone delivery race
- Girl Scout cookies take flight in Virginia drone deliveries
- Walgreens is launching an in-house delivery program
- Biden announces a strategy change as the pace of vaccination slows
- Ikea to buy back unwanted UK furniture in fresh green push
- Amazon is moving Prime Day earlier in the summer
- GameStop invests in its e-commerce future
- Lumber prices break new records, adding heat to home prices
Following in the footsteps of some of its grocery competitors, Kroger is jumping into the drone delivery space. The supermarket chain is partnering with Drone Express, a unit of Telegrid Technologies, and starting with a pilot at a store in Centerville, OH, which is close to its Cincinnati headquarters. Drone Express’s robots are part of a program by the FAA called Beyond, which aims to bring private companies and state and local governments together to develop drone use in areas like small-package delivery and infrastructure inspection. The technology allows for deliveries of up to five pounds to customers’ homes or wherever they may be. According to a statement from Kroger, customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or cookout supplies directly to a park in as little as 15 minutes.
Speaking of drone deliveries, consumers in Christiansburg, VA can get Girl Scout cookies delivered via drone. The town has already been a testing ground for Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s corporate parent Alphabet, for commercial drone deliveries. While the drone operator has been partnering with local and global companies to deliver drugstore offerings, FedEx packages, and locally made pastries, tacos, and coffee since 2019, the company is adding Girl Scout cookies to its list of partners. Wing said it began talking to local Girl Scout troops because they’ve been having a harder time selling cookies during the pandemic, when fewer people are out and about. Drone deliveries will always make some people uneasy. However, in a small survey of Christiansburg residents by researchers at nearby Virginia Tech, most townspeople appeared to be content with the drones.
Last year, Walgreens ramped up its same-day delivery service across the country. To achieve this, the company partnered with third party services Postmates, DoorDash, and Instacart. Now, Walgreens is looking to take home delivery logistics in-house. This week Walgreens debuted a white label, two-hour delivery service that integrates with its website and app. It will be available at over 1,000 Walgreens locations, and will encompass about 25,000 retail products nationwide, as well as pharmacy orders. Walgreens will be charging a $7.99 flat fee for all deliveries, though there’s no minimum order value customers have to place. Walgreens store employees will be picking and packing the orders, which will be collected and dropped off by DoorDash and Uber messengers.
As Covid-19 vaccine production continues to ramp up, the number of adults getting vaccinated is declining. President Biden, seeing the threat this poses to his goal of near normalcy by July 4, has overhauled the strategy to battle the pandemic. Many of the mass vaccination sites that were initially filled with carloads of people eager to receive the vaccination are closing due to a lack of demand. Biden’s plan is to shift mass vaccination sites to more local settings to target younger Americans and those hesitant to get a shot. In a speech at the White House, Mr. Biden said he was launching a new phase in the fight against the coronavirus, with a goal of at least partly vaccinating 70 percent of adults by Independence Day and with a personal plea to all of the unvaccinated: “This is your choice. It’s life and death.”
I recently wrote about how Ikea is testing furniture resale in Edinburgh and Glasgow for the last year or so. Now, the company is increasing its efforts to promote sustainability by expanding a program to reduce the amount of furniture that ends up in landfills. Ikea is offering to pay UK consumers for their unwanted items, rather than tossing them. The furniture retailer will allow returns of certain fully assembled furniture items, such as dressers, sideboards, and desks, in exchange for a voucher. Ikea will offer to pay 30 to 50 percent of the item’s original value depending on its condition. Any furniture returned to Ikea will be either resold in stores or recycled. Ikea has pledged to become a “fully circular and climate positive business by 2030.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon moved its annual Prime Day to October last year, essentially kicking of the 2020 holiday season a month early. This year, however, the retail giant is moving Prime Day up to the second quarter, a time where retail sales are generally slower. The move could serve two purposes. First, it could help to kick off an earlier back to school sales season, which could be a boost for revenues. And second, Amazon might be looking to soften the comparisons to the second quarter of last year, when the lockdown helped sales surge by over 40 percent year-over-year. In past years, Prime Day has prompted retailers like Walmart and Target to offer competing promotions, which will likely happen again.
With more people staying home during the pandemic, video game retailer GameStop introduced same-day delivery in some markets last year. With expectations of same-day deliveries showing no signs of slowing down, the company is expanding its e-commerce network with a new, 700,000-square-foot fulfillment center in York, PA. GameStop intends for the new center to expedite shipping times for customers on the East Coast and will help it expand its product offerings. In a recent filing with the US Securities Exchange Commission, the company outlined that it would undertake a modernization of its fulfillment network in 2021 to improve its delivery speed and performance.
And finally, the price of lumber is soaring, which is driving up the costs for home construction and renovations. Right now, there is a glut of cheap pine trees in the South, so procurement costs are low. However, as more and more people have been building homes or renovating during the pandemic, hardware stores simply cannot keep products on their shelves. Wood prices are now pushing into record territories. Lumber futures delivery later this month ended Monday at $1,575.60 per thousand board feet, a record and more than four times the typical price this time of year.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, 2Pac’s Dear Mama.