How the pandemic shifted shoppers’ grocery preferences

Many shoppers began checking out private-label food brands during the pandemic. Photo by Laura James from Pexels

Once considered second-tier options, private-label food brands are coming on strong.

Shortages and cost concerns prompted many buyers to give store brands a try during the pandemic. Pleased with their purchases, many added private-label products to their shopping lists.

Now, retailers are ramping up production and expanding their private-label portfolios to solidify new buying habits.

Amazon, for example, just launched Aplenty.

Aplenty’s offerings include pita chips, potato chips, cookies, and honey Dijon mustard, Supermarket News reported. Hundreds of additional items are expected over the next year, including candy, crackers, frozen food, condiments, and baking mixes.

New studies support years of research about the damage it does.

Research shows that physical discipline has been linked to anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and substance abuse. Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

When I was a child, spanking was my mother’s go-to punishment.

That’s the reason I decided — long before I had children — I’d never use physical discipline.

When she lost her temper, my mother grabbed a flyswatter, a hairbrush, a paint stirrer, a paddle, or a switch and started swinging. If nothing was within reach, her open hand left the same lingering sting.

I remember clenching my fists, squeezing my eyes closed, and telling myself, “I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry,” over and over when she spanked me.

Despite my feigned defiance, I was scared…

New research shows how to bring your best self to work

Leaders who use this morning reflection were more likely to report helping co-workers and providing strategic vision. Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels

If you’re the boss — or aspire to be — new research shows that reflecting on the kind of leader you want to be could spur your success.

“It’s as simple as taking a few moments in the morning while you’re drinking your coffee to reflect on who you want to be as a leader,” said Remy Jennings, a doctoral student in the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business. Jennings, along with UF professor Klodiana Lanaj, wrote the study published in Personnel Psychology.

Researchers invited students enrolled in a weekend MBA program at a large midwestern university in the…

Vaccinations are increasing, but many worry about venturing out

Experts advise pacing yourself and taking small steps over time. Photo by Tim Douglas from Pexels

I was genuinely excited to get my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine last Friday.

After living through lockdown in a rural North Carolina county where residents — to this day — remain at very high risk for COVID-19, it felt like a tremendous weight was lifted.

Although at least one in nine people living in my county has been infected since the start of the pandemic, I still see folks without masks every single day.

At the very least, I thought, the weekly trip to the grocery store will no longer feel so fraught.

Fatigued and suffering from chills…

The program is in ‘early access,’ and the company says additional features are on the way

Is Amazon starting a new chapter with book clubs? Photo by Shayna Douglas on Unsplash

Amazon’s story began with book sales. Now the e-commerce giant is building on that foundation by testing book clubs.

According to the company’s website, book clubs are in “early access,” and customers with an Amazon account can join for free. The site currently says that some customers can start their own clubs and that it will extend club creation to all customers this year.

Participants who sign up for existing clubs receive book recommendations from Amazon editors. There are no forums for book discussions, though club members can suggest their favorites to others.

Amazon is inviting feedback to “inform what…

Roxana Saidi’s Táche joins the multi-billion dollar nut milk market

Pistachios are front and center in the nut milk from startup Táche. Photo by Mockup Graphics on UnsplashC

Pistachios are popping up everywhere these days.

From soufflés to salads and from pasta to cinnamon rolls, their crunchy goodness plays a supporting role in a wide range of dishes.

In entrepreneur Roxana Saidi’s pistachio milk, Táche, the nuts take the starring role.

The founder and CEO, whose father is Iranian, told Refinery 29 that she grew up eating pistachios.

“I joke that pistachios are to Persian households as potato chips — or even, like, toilet paper — are to American ones,” she said. “You must always have pistachios on hand. It’s a standard thing.”

On a family trip to…

The retailer’s abrupt about-face ignores a market worth billions

A Loft store in a mall.
A Loft store in a mall.
Loft’s decision — and the way it was revealed — left shoppers upset. Photo purchased from

Women’s retailer Loft is eliminating size-inclusive fashions just three years after embracing them.

The company didn’t make an announcement. Instead, the news was revealed in response to shoppers’ inquiries on social media. It was a shock — and a huge disappointment — for many customers.

“The vast majority of my clothes come from Loft, but based on this, I guess I’ll be looking for a new favorite store,” one woman responded on Twitter. Another commented, “This doesn’t make sense — and it sends an awful message. Please reconsider this decision!!”

Loft’s response to a shopper’s question.

Loft announced that it…

How generosity and kindness help us through the pandemic

A greater sense of goodwill prompted many individual acts of generosity and kindness during the pandemic. Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Although COVID-19 is wrenchingly awful, the pandemic has brought out the best in many of us.

That’s according to the newly released World Happiness Report, which showed “surprising resilience” in how people rated their lives.

“We asked two kinds of questions. One is about the life in general, life evaluation, we call it. How is your life going? The other is about mood, emotions, stress, anxiety,” said Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report’s co-authors.

“Of course, we’re still in the middle of a deep crisis,” Sachs told the Associated Press. “But the responses about long-term life evaluation…


Former reporter and editor now freelancing from the base of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.

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