Spend Matters Friday Latte

How International Regulations Are Changing American Supply Chains -- Arguments against chemical regulation have been top of mind recently, with Congress holding itsfirst hearings on the Safe Cosmetics Act; the FDA deciding against regulation of bisphenol-A in food packaging; and industry groups, NGOs and politicians continue to bicker over what, if anything will be done to update the United States' 36-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The sentiment among environmental groups can perhaps best be described as regret: Many feel they had the chance to pass meaningful chemical reform in the last Congress, and lost the opportunity thanks to squabbles within the environmental health movement. Now the odds seem to be stacked against large-scale reform of U.S. legislation, but that doesn't mean U.S. companies are off the hook when it comes to toxic chemicals.

Here's one way to deal with the upcoming summer energy shortage in Japan.
Fishbowl bras offer alternative cooling in Japan's summer heat, now that all nuclear power plants are shut down -- Models present lingerie maker Triumph's new concept bra, the "Super Cool Bra", during its unveiling in Tokyo on May 9, 2012. The bra, modeled after a miniature fishbowl, contains a gel material designed to draw excess heat out of the body in its cups. It was created to help women "feel refreshed" during summer by wearing it, the lingerie maker said. Japan is headed for a power shortage this summer following the shutdown of all nuclear power reactors.

Don't talk to me: just take my money and send me things.
Contactless Payments -- Bad News for Consumers? -- The easier the method of payment, the more consumers tend to spend. Research has shown that consumers spend more when paying with credit cards than they do with cash. Now a study released by MasterCard shows that consumers may spend up to 30 percent more with the new contactless payment methods than they do with credit cards. Contactless payments take place with credit cards or smart phones that have chips implanted with radio frequency identification, commonly referred to as RFID. Consumers simply "wave" the card or smart phone over a payment terminal rather than having to "swipe" the card through the terminal.

Trader Joe's vs. Target.
Are all mega-chains the same? -- Let's start with size and scope: Trader Joe's may be one of the biggest privately held companies doing business in America, but its stores are purposely designed to fit into -- rather than take over – communities. As Businessweek notes, Trader Joe's "stores tend to be on the small side -- less than 15,000 square feet vs. 50,000 or more for conventional supermarkets." Thanks to this antipathy to the "megastore" structure, Trader Joe's can build its outlets in communities instead of on the outskirts of town -- a geography that doesn't suck commerce out of population centers and encourage driving-related sprawl, but adds to the commerce already happening in such population centers. Additionally, unlike Wal-Mart and Target, which sell everything from groceries to hardware to clothing, Trader Joe's isn't a one-stop-shop outlet aiming to siphon business from the entire economy, or even from one whole sector of the economy. It's a specialty food store whose limited selection makes it less of a staple grocery store than a niche addendum to a town's larger grocery ecosystem -- and, mind you, not some elitist addendum just for rich yuppies with tons of disposable income, but an addendum that delivers "bourgeois products at proletarian prices," as Slate notes.

- Sheena Moore

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