Retail Rundown is Cheddar's check of the biggest stories impacting what we buy, how we buy, and who's selling what.
GAS: The Biden administration on Wednesday asked Congress to temporarily lift the federal gas tax for three months to ease pressure on consumers. The proposal kicked off a debate over whether the tax holiday will actually bring down prices and what it means for the administration's efforts to improve U.S. infrastructure and fight climate change. For context, the weekly national average gasoline price is currently $4.94 per gallon, according to AAA, which is down slightly from the previous week but still historically high.
VAPING: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just delivered another blow to embattled vaping company Juul Labs. The agency ordered Juul to remove its e-cigarettes from stores following a two-year review of its health and safety properties. While the agency had previously banned sweet and fruit-flavored versions of the product, this wider ban could spell the end for the controversial company. In addition, the administration is proposing a new rule to standardize how much nicotine can go into cigarettes.
KELLOGG'S: The food giant behind such well-known brands as Eggo, Frosted Flakes, Cheez-Its, and Pop-Tarts, is splitting into three companies after 116 years in business. New names are pending, but the snack division will form one company, while plant-based foods and cereal will form the other two. CEO Steve Cahillane said the goal of the planned separation is to make the respective companies more nimble.
IN STOCK/OUT OF STOCK
TAMPONS: The shortage of tampons came to light last week after months of internet buzz that the essential feminine product was getting harder to find in stores. This week, Instacart provided more evidence of the shortage, releasing data that just 67 percent of the time its shoppers were able to find tampons on shelves, the lowest rate since April 2020. It also said orders were way up, as customers look to stockpile the harder-to-find product.
WEED KILLER: The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from multinational pharmaceutical company Bayer to shut down a barrage of lawsuits alleging that prolonged exposure to Roundup, a popular weed killer, causes cancer. The decision came soon after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal rejected an Environmental Protection Agency finding from 2020 that glyphosate, a Roundup ingredient, does not pose a serious health risk. The 9th Circuit has ordered the agency to reexamine the chemical. The legal decisions mark a reversal of the fortune for those seeking compensation from the company. Bayer recently won four consecutive cases against customers in state courts.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
HIGH PRICES: The Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank, released a research briefing this week showing that recent price gains across sectors have multiple causes that complicate the latest partisan arguments. For example, the brief said that higher prices stem from a mix of supply and demand issues, as well as higher corporate profit margins.
Key quote: "One thing to emphasize is that tackling inflation should have an all-of-the-above approach," Mike Konczal, a co-author of the report, told Cheddar.
RECESSION?: In the meantime, the Great Recession Debate continues. Over the weekend, Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said the U.S. economy will enter a recession before the end of next year. But President Joe Biden disagreed, saying "there’s nothing inevitable about a recession." His remarks echoed comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard, who said that a "soft landing" for the economy was still possible. Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, said there was a 30 percent chance of the economy entering a recession within the next year.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell told the Senate Banking Committee that it was not the Fed's intention to provoke a recession by raising interest rates, but that it was "certainly a possibility."
UP FOR DEBATE
JUNETEENTH: Juneteenth is now a national holiday. It's also becoming increasingly commercialized. Donald Norman-Cox, the founder of Juneteenth University, joins Cheddar to discuss.
HOJO'S: Some loyal customers just don't know how to say goodbye. With the closure of the last Howard Johnson's, the iconic roadside restaurant, superfans are lamenting the loss of a bygone era.