The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
It seems like a sign of the times that, among flashy gadgets like Echo Dots, Amazon Fire TV sticks and home security cameras, one of the hottest products during Amazon’s massive 48-hour Prime Day sales event this week was cat treats.
That would be Temptations Cat Treats, which ranked as the top-selling item based on an early read of data collected by consumer analytics firm Numerator.
Aside from this being a clear win for feline companions everywhere, what’s notable here is the sheer practicality of the purchase. Even during the country’s biggest online shopping event, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, many inflation-weary consumers were treating their pets instead of themselves.
This wasn’t just happening in cat munchies, either. According to Numerator analyst Amanda Schoenbauer, many shoppers approached Prime Day as an occasion to stock up on household goods rather than as an excuse to splurge. Twenty-six percent of consumers polled by the firm on July 11 said they were spending on household essentials versus 21% who said they were buying electronics.
“In an event typically dominated by electronics, we instead saw many shoppers stocking up on everyday essentials like pet food or pantry staples," she said in a statement.
Also underscoring the frugal mindset of Prime Day shoppers was the heavy use of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) programs. According to Adobe Analytics, 6.5% of orders across both sale days utilized BNPL, accounting for $927 million in revenue — a 20% increase over last year. Electronics, apparel and furniture/home products accounted for most BNPL sales.
Adobe’s research found that U.S. consumers spent $12.7 billion during Prime Day, marking the highest sales ever for the event but falling short of Adobe’s growth estimate, according to Bloomberg. Amazon, which doesn’t publish sales data for Prime Day, said shoppers purchased 375 million items across the two-day event.
The focus on everyday essentials also shows just how much shoppers rely on Amazon to keep their pantries, fridges and countertops stocked. The company is trying to shift more of that burden over to its grocery stores, including Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh, but has struggled to make headway. Both grocery store brands featured extended sales in the lead-up to Prime Day.
It’s hard to chalk Prime Day up as a clear win for Amazon. But it was clearly a banner event for cats.
In case you missed it
Expanding access to frozen food for SNAP participants
Federal lawmakers are considering Supporting All Healthy Options When Purchasing Produce (SHOPP) Act, legislation that would make it easier for people who receive SNAP benefits to access frozen produce.
The bill, introduced this week by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico), would update the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), which currently supports initiatives through local organizations that encourage consumption of fresh produce, to also fund programs that incentive people to eat frozen fruits and vegetables. Reps. Mark Alford (R-Missouri) and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives in May.
Bristol Farms connects people to LA history by bus
The Southern California grocery chain is working with a group of history enthusiasts to teach people about Los Angeles’ past through the lens of food.
Participants in the program will travel around the city on an open-air, double-decker bus and get a “taste of history from some of the finest brands, founders, and forward-thinking foodies” as well as a Bristol farms-curated goodie bag, according to an emailed announcement from LA Explained, Bristol Farms’ partner on the project. The tour will include a bowl of chili from Chasen's, a former Hollywood restaurant that is now the site of a Bristol Farms store.
Kroger ends debit card program
The grocer is terminating a debit card program that allows customers to earn extra fuel points and also provides 2% cash back on private label products. The card, announced in early 2019, also incentivizes shoppers to use Kroger’s mobile payment system, Kroger Pay, by doubling rewards for people who use the card to pay for purchases through the app. The company said it has stopped accepting applications for the card and will remove it from wallets on Aug. 1
Number of the week: $300
This is how much cash back a family spending approximately $100 a week on groceries can get back in a year, according to a recent LendingTree report. The highest cash back earnings rate LendingTree found was 6%. However, shopping for groceries at big box retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club or even superstores like Walmart and Target won’t earn shoppers rewards on most cards, per the report.
The report also advises shoppers to read the fine print because oftentimes cards require them to buy a certain way in order to receive rewards. For example, Kroger brand credit cards let shoppers earn 5% cash back on eligible net mobile wallet purchases for the first $3,000 spent in a calendar year, then 1% after that — but not through Kroger Pay.
Retail sales data released
The U.S. Census Bureau is scheduled to release retail sales data for June on Tuesday. The data will provide insight into how inflation and other factors impacted sales for the grocery industry during the month.
A Grocery Outlet manager in Bakersfield, California, went above and beyond the call of duty for a trio of abandoned puppies left in her store’s parking lot earlier this week, per a local news report.
One of the grocer’s cashiers found the three wheaten terrier-poodle mix puppies after a person pulled into the supermarket’s parking lot, opened the car’s hatchback and pushed the puppies out of the vehicle before driving off, as captured by surveillance cameras.
The store’s manager, Kim Still, jumped into action and decided to offer up a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for dumping the animals.
Currently, all three dogs are up for adoption at the Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Thousand Oaks. The shelter vaccinated, spayed and neutered the pups and is now facilitating their adoption.