Retailers, consumers and prices
(Written by Correspondent Nick Carey)
This was not merely because the two protests — one by workers protesting for more help for workers amid the bailout of the U.S. financial sector, the other ostensibly by “tea party” activists — were rather small, barely a few dozen altogether. Though it must be said that seeing protesters outnumbered by journalists, and there are hordes of us here, is always a surreal experience.
But the oddity of the occasion manifested itself in two ways. First, the two groups of protesters were separated from each other by a one-lane road and a few from each side — and there were maybe a dozen or so more of the workers than the “tea party” people — stood at their respective street corners and stared each other down. Both groups were confined to a small patch of concrete that for 90 minutes they could call their own.
Some waved banners and chanted their slogans, but for the most part everyone was civil. Perhaps that was because the workers and the main part of the tea partiers were there to protest more or less against the same thing: bailouts. The workers were against bailouts for Wall Street bankers, while the tea partiers were against bailouts, period. So there was little for them to shout about, or maybe it was just too cold to argue.
Seventy-one percent of chief financial officers at major U.S. retailers do not think they will cut jobs as a reaction to healthcare reform, according to a new survey from BDO Seidman LLP.
But that still may not be all good news for employees at those chains. Eighty percent of those executives who don’t plan to eliminate positions do plan to charge employees more if healthcare costs rise, the accounting and consulting firm found.
The remaining 20 percent said they do not expect their employees to face higher healthcare costs.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Olympia Snowe backed President Obama’s plan for healthcare reform on Tuesday.
“Managing healthcare costs is a significant challenge for any business and the retail industry, which is the second largest employer in the U.S., bears a large brunt of the burden,” said Catherine Fox-Simpson, a partner in BDO’s Retail and Consumer Products Practice.
“At the end of the day retailers need employees to run operations and healthcare will be considered just another cost of doing business,” she added.
BDO also said that shoppers shouldn’t expect many more layaway options. Layaway programs at Kmart and Sears, which allow shoppers to pay in installments, have been met with applause from many consumers. Still, 86 percent of retailers said they do not plan to offer layaway programs for the 2009 holiday season.
The survey also found that only half of the retailers who responded said that they sell green products. Of those, 63 are seeing an uptick in demand for such goods. Perhaps Wal-Mart’s sustainability efforts are driving some of that change.
Dr. Andrew Sussman was named president and chief operating officer of CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic unit on Tuesday.
Sussman, who was most recently COO at UMass Memorial Medical Center and an associate professor at UMass’s medical school, also became CVS Caremark‘s associate chief medical officer.