ALA Executive Briefing
Feb. 21, 2014

WEST: Defense industry wants open and honest dialogue with services
Open and honest dialogue between business and government is crucial if industry can effectively deliver during an era of fiscal austerity, executives from some of the nation's top defense contractors said during a morning panel discussion on the final day of West 2014 in San Diego, Calif. All three speakers agreed the biggest challenge is operating in an era of limited spending and demands for further cost cutting,More

Bush-era lessons remain relevant for Obama, Hagel as they prepare Pentagon's budget
The Washington Post
Since the heady Bush years, the Pentagon has been on a budgetary downslope, a change from the years immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the military services got almost everything they wanted, with few questions asked.More

Security Insiders: High time for Congress to cave on closing military bases
National Journal
It's high time for Congress to agree to the Pentagon's request to close military bases, a whopping 91 percent of National Journal's National Security Insiders said. Lawmakers, even as they search for ways to cut spending, have rebuffed the Defense Department's requests to close military installations it no longer needs as the military downsizes after long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — to the dismay of the pool of national security experts. "Enough already," said one Insider.More

Congress focusing on significant changes to federal security-clearance process
The Washington Post
The outbreak of comity in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, often a sharply partisan place, means the government's security-clearance process is in for significant changes. Democrats and Republicans on the committee are united by an urgency to fix a system that was not able to stop Aaron Alexis's September rampage. He was a defense contractor with a security clearance who attacked his Washington Navy Yard workplace, killing 12 before being shot to death by police. More

Defense officials step up rhetoric against cuts
National Defense Magazine
Military leaders are launching preemptive strikes as a new round of budget battles heats up in Washington over defense spending beyond 2015. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno recently fired a fresh salvo when he drew a hard line on force reductions that would be necessary to comply with the 2011 Budget Control Act. Last month's Bipartisan Budget Act reversed some of the cuts for 2014 and 2015. Beyond that, the military would have to adjust to lower spending caps. More

Obama signs order to raise contractor minimum wage
Federal Times
President Barack Obama signed an executive order Feb. 12 that would raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The increased wage will only apply to employee wages on new contracts beginning Jan. 1, 2015, according to the administration. Obama had announced he would raise the wage during the annual State of the Union Address Jan. 28.More

'Commissary Club' to open at McChord Field
Northwest Military
The Defense Commissary Agency is about to make the McChord Field Commissary one-of-a-kind. Starting Friday, March 7, DeCA will test its new club store format on the Air Force side at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The new format will feature a huge, new section of the store entirely dedicated to club packs and other oversized packaged products commonly found in commercial warehouse club stores, such as Costco or Sam's Club. DeCA called the new store format a "Commissary Club." More

A big bet on gluten-free
The New York Times
The Girl Scouts recently introduced a gluten-free chocolate chip shortbread cookie to their annually anticipated line of sweet treats. Vodka companies vie over which one of them was the "first" to introduce a gluten-free version of their products. Makers of products that have always been gluten-free, including popcorn, potato chips, nuts and rice crackers, are busy hawking that quality in ads and on their packaging. More

Most consumers unwilling to pay more for non-GMO
Grocery Headquarters
The labeling of genetically-modified foods is at the center of debate across the country, but the decision to buy or not buy non-GMO foods often is based on price, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. A recent NPD food market research study on GMO awareness and concern among consumers finds that 67 percent of all primary grocery shoppers are not willing to pay a higher price for non-GMO foods.More

Kroger buys you technology for digital coupons
Awareness and interest continues to grow for digital coupons among consumers and marketers alike, reflecting the growing penetration of smartphones and tablets. Now the owner of one of the country's largest supermarket chains, The Kroger Co., is bolstering its digital coupon capabilities with the purchase of You Technology Brand Services, which operates a cloud-based platform for digital coupons and promotions.More

Consumers want citrus convenience
Supermarket News
When shopping for citrus, customers have varying expectations when it comes to tangerines and grapefruit. "Convenience is huge in the tangerine category. People want things that peel very easily and that you can pull the sections apart. They want it to be juicy enough to be refreshing, but they don't want it to be drippy," said Peter Chaires, executive director, New Varieties Development & Management Corp.More

Younger shoppers making deli's future bright
Progressive Grocer
Consumer eating trends bode well for in-store deli and prepared foods. Barbara Ford of Acosta Sales and Marketing trumpets the emergence of "grocerants" — the growing trend of restaurant-style foodservice operations at grocery stores that have been giving quick-casual dining establishments a run for their money. In particular, the trend is being embraced by the coveted millennial shoppers, who, along with Generation X'ers, are more likely than older consumers to purchase prepared foods and foodservice meal solutions at the supermarket. More

Report: Consumers demand more ground beef, less steak
Iowa Farmer Today
Don Close says the numbers do not lie. Close, a cattle economist with Rabobank, says consumers are demanding more ground beef and less steak. He released his report, "Ground Beef Nation," during the recent National Cattlemen's Beef Association convention in Nashville, Tenn. Over the past four decades, he said consumer beef demand has fallen.More

Are grocery stores doomed? More shoppers buying food at big-box stores
Thanks to a proliferation of press attention, it may often seem like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and farmers markets peddling organic kale are today's favored grocery shopping destinations. Not so, according to a new study. In fact, more than ever, consumers are looking to big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target as well as convenience stores, dollar stores and pharmacy chains including Walgreen and CVS to fulfill their grocery lists. More

Imagining food smells may increase consumption
Imagining the smell of cake may lead people to eat more cake, suggests a study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Turkish and U.S. researchers have dubbed the phenomenon "smellizing," explaining that the impact of visual imagery in food marketing has been thoroughly explored, but little research has examined the impact of olfactory imagery — this, imagining the smell of a food.More

Employee assistance programs offer help to veterans with PTSD
By Joy Burgess
With the growing number of veterans in the workplace, many employers have employee assistance programs in place that offer help to veterans, specifically to those dealing with mental health problems and reintegration issues. More

Congressman calls for hearing on moving Marine Corps Times at exchanges
Marine Corps Times
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., recently called for a congressional oversight hearing on why the Marine Corps abruptly moved Marine Corps Times from newsstands in the front of exchange stores to the back, where the publication is more difficult to find.More

Bill to restore COLA for military retirees clears Senate hurdle
Military Times
The Senate recently cleared a key procedural hurdle on a bill that would undo the cuts to military retirement pay introduced by the Bipartisan Budget Act. Senators voted unanimously, 94-0, to advance the bill. More

Hampton Roads ALA Golf Tourney — March 5

Join us for the Hampton Roads ALA Golf Tourney at Sewells Point Golf Course in Norfolk, Va., on March 5.

Tee Time is at 11 a.m.; registration includes boxed lunch.

Hole sponsorships welcomed and will benefit HRALA's Scholarship Program!

Click here to register!More

Phishing email led to Target cyberattack
Chain Store Age
A "phishing" attack using an email containing malware reportedly enabled hackers to gain access to Target's computer network in 2013. According to security blogger Brian Krebs, an employee at the HVAC vendor Fazio Mechanical in Sharpsburg, Penn. which includes Target among its clients, opened a fraudulent email that allowed hackers to enter Fazio's network and take over a computer.More

NRF: Weather dampens January retail sales
Chain Store Age
Consumers leveled off post-holiday shopping and spending in the beginning of the year due in part to severe winter weather in much of the country. According to the National Retail Federation, January 2014 retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, were flat seasonally adjusted month-to-month, yet increased 3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.More

Home Depot to hire 80,000 seasonal workers
USA Today
Home Depot, the largest U.S. home improvement retailer, is hiring for more than 80,000 seasonal positions in its stores as spring nears and the housing market improves. "Spring is our peak hiring season," said Tim Crow, executive vice president for human resources.More

Prada gets even more elitist and it pays off
Bloomberg Businessweek
If one has a $3,000 handbag, she shouldn't let just anyone get their grubby hands on it. That's the message this morning from Prada, which has been limiting the amount of fancy clothes and accessories it sells through wholesale channels. Instead, the Italian design house has been opening its own stores, adding 79 in the past 12 months to bring the tally to 540.More

Retailers upbeat heading to Vegas market
Women's Wear Daily
It's about the new. Retailers heading to the trade shows in Las Vegas next week don't foresee men's wear sales backtracking this year. (Subscription required.)More

NRF urges immediate adoption of chip-and-PIN payment card technology
Chain Store Age
During a recent press conference on Feb. 11, the National Retail Federation called for widespread adoption of chip-and-PIN payment card technology by U.S. retailers and their partners. "The chip validates that it's the real card," said Tom Litchford, VP retail technologies for NRF. The PIN provides two levels of validation."More

Sears is introducing a new drive-through shopping option
The Washington Post
Cold weather has been blamed for a lot of bad economic data this year, including retailers' weak sales. After all, it's easier to stay home and order everything online. But for shoppers who still make the effort to drive out to stores, retailers are trying to make the process a little more rewarding.More

Target to collaborate with top Pinterest users on party collections
By now, it's old hat for brand-name designers to team up with discount retailers (Stella McCartney for H&M, Isaac Mizrahi for Target, Vera Wang for Kohl's, to name just a few). But Target now plans to dip into a new pool of talent by partnering with three of Pinterest's top influencers. More

The world's top 10 most innovative companies in retail
Fast Company
No industry has been more transfigured in the past year than retail. Stores now behave like websites, tracking customers as they browse. American malls have pretty much died. And in some parts of the country, you can have your milk and eggs home-delivered, along with your new iPod, on the same day. Those who lead the field strike the right balance between physical and digital, experience and affordability, and convenience and quality.More

Retail CFOs expect strong 2014 sales
Women's Wear Daily
U.S. retailers' chief financial officers appear to have put the rough-and-tumble holiday season behind them and are expecting their firms' sales to gain 5.1 percent in 2014. (Subscription required.)More

Report: Retail data breaches not an attack on US, economy
Chain Store Age
The National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, a combined effort of the FBI, Secret Service, intelligence agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, has released a report stating there is no evidence that recent data breaches in the computer networks of U.S., retailers are a deliberate attack on the U.S., economy. More

Winter's price tag this year estimated at $50 billion
United Press International
Harsh winter weather is wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy, with mounting losses due to slow retail sales, travel disruption and other factors, economists said. The fallout of frigid temperatures in December and January includes jobs lost, flights canceled, slower retail sales and oil production curtailed, the Chicago Tribune recently reported.More

7-Eleven faces some delays on the road to franchising
Convenience Store News
The year was 2007 and 7-Eleven Inc. announced its intent to get out of running its own stores and instead move entirely to a franchised operation. The nation's largest convenience store chain targeted 2013 as the year when this vision would come to fruition. It's now 2014 and 7-Eleven acknowledges it not fully franchised, but affirms that it is growing its franchise base every day. Currently, 75 percent of its U.S. stores are operated by independent franchisees. Before launching its franchising endeavor, that figure stood at about 60 percent.More

Benefits of going green in the warehouse
By Tracy Stevens
Going green or lean in your warehouse by streamlining processes and introducing cost-saving initiatives can bring many benefits. To stay competitive and be on the leading edge, going green is a win-win process. Encourage your employees to develop a green mindset. Offer incentives and rewards for workers who come up with innovative and green solutions for the workplace. Here are some steps to take to make your warehouse more energy efficient, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint. More

Demographic shifts contribute to the changing face of retail
So far this year, retail chains have announced some heavy cuts. J.C. Penney said it would. Macy's said it would. Sears will close its flagship Chicago store in April. That's creating a glut of excess space. But that's just one of several forces changing the face of retail. Jason Moser, an analyst at Motley Fool One, focuses on one key number in retail: Revenue per employee. Moser also says inefficiency in legacy brick-and-mortar chains is bleeding some iconic brands.More

Wal-Mart Q4 earnings show challenges
USA Today
This winter's wrath put a chill on Walmart's sales in the fourth quarter, leading to profit of $4.4 billion, a 21 percent drop, the company said. Wal-Mart's earnings per share were $1.34, down from $1.67 in the same quarter last year. For fiscal 2014, the company reported EPS of $4.85, a 2.0 percent increase over fiscal 2013's EPS of $5.01. That missed Wall Street estimates for annual earnings per share of $5.11 and its quarterly estimate of EPS of $1.59.More

Important notice from MCX Executive Team

MCX has partnered with SPS Commerce to kick off an important Point of Sale initiative with our vendor community in the coming weeks.

An SPS Commerce representative will be contacting your company to walk through the process. Please provide SPS Commerce with your formal Point of Sale decision by March 14.

This is a collaborative effort between MCX and our vendor community, and we look forward to working with you to make it a success.

Click here to learn more about this initiative and to register for an informational webinar session.

This is a Web based analytical tool that is being offered for a monthly fee to MCX vendors to view MCX POS data. Deadline to participate in this program is March 14. The webinar can be viewed in a couple of days by going to; Username = mcxvendor, Password = spscommerce.More

Important Exchange Update: Attention vendors and brokers,

We are announcing new and improved changes in the Sample Program. Effective March 1 there will be no COOP charge for the Sampling Events. The Exchange is requesting free goods for each store to create the Sample Events every month. Additionally vendors are recommended to create the customer experience sampling demos in our top 50 Express locations and our top 50 Main Stores worldwide! This new sampling program strategy will leverage the Exchange associates and utilize vendor/broker resources to introduce and sample new items.

March Sample offers are due NLT Feb 21. Please send complete DOF's to your buyer(s) with the amount of free goods listed in the comments.

Thank you so much for your continuing support!

Jamie Trevino
Merchandise Assistant
Army & Air Force Exchange Service
Dry Grocery and Meat Snacks~MD-C1
Visit our online store!

New 860-key Fort Benning, Georgia hotel sparks fear in local competition
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer via Hotel Online
It's an 860-room hotel that is impressive in its sheer size and is situated in the heart of Fort Benning's Main Post area — where soldiers train, work, live and play. The 450,000-square-foot property also is part of the U.S. Army's effort to privatize its on-post lodging to replace as quickly and economically as possible rooms that are showing age through decades of wear and tear.More

Rare heavy snowfall shutters Tokyo-area military bases for 2nd day
Stars and Stripes
For the second time in a week, U.S. service members in the Tokyo area were digging out from possibly record snowfall this past Saturday. Accumulation that began Friday night was measured as high as 2 feet at some parts of Yokota Air Base west of Tokyo, though official numbers have not yet been obtained.More

Main Post hotel to replace outdated lodging
The Bayonet
If you've wondered what the construction site on Ingersoll Street across from the movie theater will turn into — it's a hotel. Fort Benning is replacing its current 1,175 guest rooms that don't meet Army Lodging Standards with the Abrams Hotel, which should be completed this summer, said Al Gelineau, the director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. More

What's it like to be a manager in a war zone?
Real Estate Weekly
In August of 2008, returning from a patrol of the streets of Baghdad, and within 200 meters of entering Forward Operating Base Shield, the 4th Brigade Combat Team was ambushed by IEDs and small arms fire resulting in casualties. Casualties were treated quickly and efficiently, evacuations by air were made expeditiously and the incident resolved. Unfortunately, there were nearly a dozen casualties, both wounded and killed. What is it like to be a property manager in the trenches of a combat zone?More