ALA Executive Briefing
Dec. 19, 2014

What the new budget bill means for defense, VA
Military Times
The $1.1 trillion spending bill approved by the Senate over the weekend gives the Pentagon $554 billion for fiscal 2015, gives the Veterans Affairs Department $160 billion and gives much needed predictability to the federal budget.More

3 post-9/11 veterans named to Senate Armed Services Committee
Defense One
A lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard and the first female combat veteran in the Senate. A former Army Ranger and captain educated in the Ivy League. A lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves who worked on former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's national security staff. These are the three newly elected senators who will serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republicans announced recently.More

Budget battle is likely to heat up next year
The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)
Congress barely managed to approve a funding bill negotiated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers recently, working under spending guidelines set by each party's budget gurus. Next year could get even uglier.More

It's all about the money: CROmnibus passes House and Senate
National Military Family Association
Besides preventing an overall government shutdown (as we witnessed in 2013) the bill contains legislative provisions of interest to military and veterans families. The bill restores funding to the commissary of $190 million to maintain operations. The restoration of funding is significant for this year but was largely due to the intent of legislators to wait on the report from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) before making further fiscal decisions. We will have to take up the battle again in the new year to defend the commissary benefits and savings ... More

Obama thanks troops as Afghanistan war ends
The Hill
President Barack Obama urged Americans to express their gratitude to active troops and veterans who have served in combat zones around the world to defend the nation's interests. "No one sacrifices more to preserve our blessings than our extraordinary men and women in uniform," he said. His address marks the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, which is the longest war in American history. More

Survey reflects troops' dissatisfaction with deployment tempo
Military Times
Most U.S. troops surveyed say the frequency of their deployments has either increased or stayed the same during the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. And with both budgets and force size shrinking, many service members say they are doing the same amount of work with fewer people and less money.

The end of the wars, combined with mounting pressure on the Pentagon's budget, is forcing the military to make steep reductions in the size of the force. The Air Force is cutting 20,000 airmen this year. The Marines are whittling an end strength north of 200,000 down to 174,000 by 2017. In the Army, nearly 22,000 soldiers departed in 2014. The Army has shed more than 60,000 soldiers since it began a drawdown in 2010 and faces the possibility of losing 80,000 more by the end of the decade. More

Thousands gather to honor fallen Veterans for Wreaths Across America Day
U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Media Activity
Thousands gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to lay remembrance wreaths on veterans' headstones to mark National Wreaths Across America Day, and in doing so drew one of the annual event's largest turnouts in its 23 year history. The organization has expanded to include more than 1,000 fundraising groups in all 50 states representing more than 900 cemeteries, military memorials, and other sites. Volunteers from local American Legion and VFW Posts, veterans and military service organizations, civic organizations, and more than 80 volunteer trucking companies participate each year. More

President, first lady encourage Toys for Tots donations
U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Media Activity
First lady Michelle Obama reminded the public that time still remains to donate to Toys for Tots as she introduced her newest "helper," President Barack Obama, during a toy sorting and packing drive at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. Over its lifespan, the Marine Toys for Tots Program has distributed more than 469 million toys to over 216 million less-fortunate children.More

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Solicitation number: HDEC02122Amendment0005. Notice type: Justification and Approval. J&A statutory authority: FAR 6.302-1 — only one responsible source (except brand name). More

DeCA has a requirement for physical wall-to-wall dollar value inventories for the continental US, Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico locations
Solicitation number: HDEC05-14-R-0002. Agency: Other Defense Agencies. Office: Defense Commissary Agency. Location: Contracting Business Unit Support Services/Supply and Revenue Branch (HDEC05). More

House, Senate restore commissary money
Pensacola News Journal
House and Senate conferees negotiating a package to fund the Department of Defense through September 2015 have protected commissary operations by restoring 90 percent of a planned $100 million cut.More

Consumer watch: Look for commissary's 'Value' signs
Army Times
New orange "Value" signs may help you spot the best deal in the commissaries. The signs highlight prices that meet the criteria of the Defense Commissary Agency's "Commissary Value Brand" program. Officials picked 300 products across 33 categories that are competitively priced — equal to or below the price of store brands or private label brands of similar items in commercial supermarkets.More

How the first lady helped small grocery businesses reduce 'food deserts' in California
Making the investment case for bringing healthy food to low-income communities was none other than the first lady. And inner city grocery businesses and their customers are benefiting in a big way. Michelle Obama announced the California FreshWorks fund in 2011, highlighting the need for financing inner city grocery markets in order to bring affordable, healthy options to "food deserts" — urban areas where it can be difficult to acquire find fresh food and produce. More

New organic food shopping locator launches in December
ReleaseWire via Digital Journal
There's a new way to shop for organic food in America: More

Home lines: Shop commissary for savings
The Leaf-Chronicle
Spouse of Army veteran Paige King writes: As I write this, it is pay day for the military — that is if you opt for the midmonth pay — so I may be a day late and you're already a dollar short. I'm going to revisit a topic I wrote about when this column first began — the commissary.More

Non-GMO, gluten-free, Kosher, vegan, all-natural ... what can we learn from claims made on new products in the US in 2014?
Non-GMO, Kosher, gluten-free, ethical, environmentally-friendly, lactose-free, vegan, no additives/preservatives and on-the-go claims are all gaining more traction on U.S. food labels; while growth in "all-natural" — antioxidant — and low/no/reduced sugar/sodium/fat claims has been pretty flat over the past six years, according to Mintel.More

Grocery delivery wars: How Amazon Fresh, Instacart and Safeway stacked up in tests
Upcoming changes in the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service in Seattle are causing some longtime customers to think twice. Is it worth the new $299/year Prime Fresh subscription? What about one of these newer services, like Instacart, or delivery from a traditional supermarket, like Safeway? GeekWire has been conducting some tests and has some answers.More

Europe's booming social supermarket concept grows slowly in US
International Business Times
Social supermarkets — stores that sell surplus, dented and slightly damaged goods at discounted prices — have been gaining popularity in Europe among low-income shoppers struggling with a bad economy. Now, the concept is slowly spreading in the U.S. and Asia.More

McCafe arrives at Albertsons
Supermarket News
Albertsons is promoting the launch of McDonald's McCafé-brand packaged coffee with a sweepstakes to win free one-year supply. All those who upload a photo of their favorite coffee mug to the sweepstakes website are eligible to win. The contest runs through Jan. 5. While the coffee will roll out to most retailers early next year, it's already available at Albertsons. More

On General Mills' plate: New mousse yogurt and revved up pizza rolls
Star Tribune
General Mills is bringing its "whipped" yogurt style to Greek yogurt, while amping up flavors for its Totino's pizza rolls. Those are among the 50 new products announced by General Mills. The Golden Valley-based packaged foods giant typically trots out new wares twice a year.More

AAFES announce promotion of Tom Lozier
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is pleased to announce the promotion of Tom Lozier to a senior executive role.

Tom Lozier, vice president logistics, has been selected to be our senior vice president supply chain transportation effective Dec. 6, 2014. Tom will be responsible for providing vision and leadership for developing and implementing long-term strategies for the Exchange Global Supply Chain Transportation Operations. Tom assumed his current position as vice president logistics in July 2012. Prior to joining the Exchange, Tom was an independent business consultant leading several projects, including the launch of Loehmann's Stores eCommerce fulfillment center. He also worked as the senior vice president of operations/loss prevention for Finlay Fine Jewelry Corporation in New York. He was responsible for operations, logistics, merchandise distribution, asset protection, product services, store display and other sales support activities. Tom was also the president and owner of Warden West Corporation, a company providing third-party distribution, home delivery and apparel services to Macy's West, Broadway, Emporium Capwell and Bloomingdale's in the western United States.

Tom attended Harvard Business School and earned a master of business administration degree. He received his bachelor of science degree in analytical management from the United States Naval Academy. More

Proposed online AAFES shopping for vets inches forward
Army Times
The tide may be turning in the effort to allow all honorably discharged veterans to shop at the online store operated by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. "It appears there are no insurmountable hurdles," said a source familiar with a meeting held Oct. 8 between Russell Beland, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for military manpower and personnel, and officials with the Navy Exchange Service Command, Marine Corps Exchange and AAFES.More

AAFES Executive Promotions and Assignments
On behalf of the Director/CEO, please join me in congratulating these deserving associates.

Executive Promotions

Bryan Glenn
PB 4E Post Production Manager, MD-M Digital Media Network, Merchandising Directorate, Exchange HQ to the position of 5A Network Services Manager, MD-M Digital Media Network, Merchandising Directorate, Exchange HQ in November 2014.
Karla McGary
PB 4F Contract Team Leader, PL-K Support Services, PL Directorate to the position of PB 5A Procurement Manager, PL-K Personal Services, PL Directorate, Exchange HQ in November 2014.

Robert Rice
PB 5C General Manager, Ft. Leonard Wood Exchange, Central Region to the position of PB 5D General Manager, Hawaii Exchange, Western Region in February 2015.
Jeffrey Wigness
PB 5D, Store Communication Executive, Merchandising Directorate, Exchange HQ to the position of PB 5E, Vice President Store Planning Division, Real Estate Directorate, Exchange HQ in December 2014.

Executive Assignments

Corey Barkwill
Audit Project Manager, A-UP, Audit Directorate, Exchange HQ in October 2014.
Amanda Burke
Regional HRM, Central Region to the position of Regional HRM, Eastern Region, Human Resources Directorate in January 2015.
Natalia Donovan
Senior Benefits Specialist, Finance & Accounting Directorate, to the position of Auditor III , AU-P, Audit Directorate Exchange HQ in December 2014.
Maria Head
Regional HRM, Western Region to the position of Regional HRM, Central Region, Human Resources Directorate in January 2015.
Brian Lally
Corporate Energy Program Manager, Real Estate Directorate, Exchange HQ in December 2014.
Beverly Murphy
Auditor III, A-UP, Audit Directorate, Exchange HQ in October 2014.

Jerry Riordan
Area Manager, Hawaii Exchange, Western Region to the position of Area Manager, Ft Lewis/McCord Exchange, Western region in January 2015.
Marla Smith
Marla Smith’s new position is Vice President Strategic Operations, Office of the President & Chief Operating Officer, Exchange HQ.
Troy Seymour - Director of Fuel Programs, Services Directorate, Exchange HQ in December 2014.
Carol Wapniarski
Regional HRM, Pacific Region to the position of Regional HRM, Western Region, Human Resources Directorate in January 2015.
Steven Williams
Store Manager (MS), Lakenheath Exchange, Europe Region to the position of Training Center Manager, Human Resources Directorate, Exchange HQ in March 2015.
Terry Wilson
Fuels Trader, Services Directorate, Exchange HQ in December 2014.


On-base tobacco prices to rise
Military Times
Tobacco products on base are about to get more expensive. Language in both the sweeping budget resolution and annual defense authorization bill pending before lawmakers this week would drop the 5 percent discount offered to customers on tobacco products at military exchanges. More

Fitch ratings: RadioShack's cost-cutting not likely to prevent debt restructruing
Chain Store Age
The massive cost cutting plan outlined on Dec.11 by RadioShack is likely not sufficient to forestall a restructuring of the company's debt in the near term, according to Fitch Ratings.More

Ugly Christmas sweaters have become big business
The Buffalo News
Every year since 2008, Scott Kozak has invited friends and family into his Town of Tonawanda home for an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Guests are urged to "out-ugly" one another in the most gaudy, holiday-themed garb they can find. There are prizes for the most hilariously hideous creations.More

Cheaper gasoline fuels retail hopes
The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)
American retailers are getting a gift just in time for the holidays: a sharp drop in gasoline prices that is delivering a welcome boost to the pocketbooks of U.S. consumers. More

Next generation class of 2015
National Retail Federation
Talented students from 24 NRF member schools have been nominated to represent the next generation of retail leaders. The nominees below received a travel scholarship to attend Retail's BIG Show, Student Program and the inaugural NRF Foundation Gala in New York City.More

Online shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores: Time for a face-lift
Chain Store Age
What's going to keep people coming back to physical store locations, as comfort levels with e-commerce rise every year? Savvy retailers are fighting technology with technology, refreshing the look and feel of their stores by integrating more gadgets, and using data in a more integrated way to inform strategy. In-store tech helps retailers beat e-tailers at their own game.More

A big-picture look at this year's holiday spending
It's the most wonderful time of the year — particularly for retailers. With the National Retail Federation forecasting a 4.1 percent increase in consumer spending this holiday season, those on both sides of the transactions seem to be feeling the spirit.More

Solid US retail sales point to brisk consumer spending
U.S. consumer spending advanced at a brisk clip in November as lower gasoline prices gave the holiday shopping season a boost, offering the latest sign of underlying momentum in the economy.More

Wal-Mart cuts a new path through rural Texas
The Dallas Morning News
Wal-Mart is rediscovering small-town Texas. This time it's focusing on even smaller towns than it did in the 1970s and 80s. Wal-Mart will open 37 stores in the state from November through the end of January. And it's doing so with its smaller Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets.More

PepsiCo CEO says bigger is better in wooing Wal-Mart, other retailers
PepsiCo is a $66 billion-a-year behemoth. Some have argued that the snacks-and-beverage company is a lumbering giant that would benefit from splitting itself in two. But CEO Indra Nooyi argues that the company's broad portfolio of products and size make it even more important with retailers desperate to bring shoppers into their stores. More

Behind the holiday trend of self-gifting
Jill Bascou looked like a typical holiday gift shopper standing in line on Thanksgiving Day shortly after the Target in Marlton, New Jersey opened at 6 p.m. Except she wasn't buying for other people.More

Canada approves Tim Hortons-Burger King merger
Chain Store Age
The proposed merger between Tim Hortons Inc. and Burger King Worldwide Inc. has been approved by the Minister of Industry under the Investment Canada Act. The companies have set the deadline for registered shareholders of Tim Hortons or Burger King Worldwide to make an election by Dec. 9, with the assumption the proposed merger will occur Dec. 12.More

7-Eleven helping HHS with health care awareness, ACA signup
7-Eleven Inc. has joined PayNearMe in a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to help reach financially underserved and other cash-preferring consumers and encourage them to sign up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare."More

A look back at tobacco legislation in 2014
This year, very few tobacco bills have been enacted into law that would have a negative impact on tobacco retailers. In fact, this is the fourth consecutive year when only a couple of states have enacted higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The same holds true for other proposed state level tobacco restrictions including flavor bans and raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products.More

A fresh look at fresh
Between 2003 and 2013, consumption of fresh foods — fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs — grew by 20 percent to more than 100 billion "eatings," and it's the youngest generations — Generation Z, ages 0 to 23, and Millennials, ages 24 to 37, driving the trend, reported The NPD Group. More

Researchers: E-cigarettes less addictive than cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes appear to be less addictive than cigarettes in former smokers, and this could help improve understanding of how various nicotine delivery devices lead to dependence, according to researchers at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania.More

CSP exclusive: A positive outlook
For C-store retailers who participated in this year's CSP Outlook Survey, this one statement sums up 2014. In fact, more than 75 percent of participants said current business conditions were "good" or "excellent," making this a record high in the 10-year history of the annual survey, which gauges retailer optimism for the year ahead.More

Convenience Store Products Magazine releases 2nd annual hot 100
Convenience Store Products magazine — a publication produced by CSP Business Media — released the full list of top retailer-requested products of 2014 in the C-store industry. More

IMCOM unveils plan for 2025 and beyond
U.S. Army
The U.S. Army Installation Management Command released "IMCOM 2025 and Beyond," a new campaign plan operationalizing the commanding general's vision for the organization. This plan provides a roadmap for IMCOM's future and serves as a change management document that focuses the command's collective efforts, prioritizes resources and continues the exchange of information, Lt. Gen. David Halverson, IMCOM commander, wrote in his preface. More

Kentucky: Stokes retires after 38 years
The Fort Campbell Courier
Members of the Fort Campbell, Kentucky, community and distinguished guests bid a fond farewell to Van Stokes, deputy director for the Fort Campbell Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, at his recent retirement luncheon ceremony. Stokes will retire after 38 years of civilian service, 29 of which was served at Fort Campbell as the MWR sports director, chief of community recreation and deputy director for MWR.More