Short Strikes No. 17

This week, Short Strikes dissects the real impact of access openings at federal refuges, checks in with America’s largest brick and mortar retailer, and grabs an overpriced coffee for you.

The 248,000-acre question

This week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior and SCUBA enthusiast Ryan Zinke announced a proposal to open 248,000 acres for hunting and fishing at 30 national wildlife refuges. Quoth Zinke, “As stewards of our public lands, Interior is committed to opening access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down this American heritage. These 30 refuges will provide incredible opportunities for American sportsmen and women across the country to access the land and connect with wildlife.”

The strike: That sounds like a big win for fishing, but in reality, only four of the 30 expansions would feature any form of angling access. Straight from the Department of Interior, those are:

Most of the proposed openings do still benefit outdoorsmen, mostly opening up turkey, moose, and other big game hunting on America’s public lands. In an odd twist, the proposal also repeals an Obama-era rule that prohibited caribou hunting by motorboat in Alaska. The moves aim to take advantage of the $150 billion-plus hunting and fishing industries; however, Zinke is catching heat for repealing protections against denning wolves, coyotes, and bears.

Short Strikes has a long-standing rivalry with bears, but still says that’s less than sporting.

Read more: Outside Magazine‘s Elliott D. Woods has an extensive writeup on why Zinke is one of the few Trump-era cabinet secretaries that can actually make things happen.

Walmart’s wicked tuna tale

Chicken of the Sea International reached a cash settlement with retail colonialism enthusiast Walmart, Inc., this week. The two were feuding over antitrust claims swirling around a federal investigation of price-fixing among the big three tuna companies. The fix? To keep tuna prices high in a market that would have otherwise driven the price down. Walmart, being the nation’s largest retailer of canned tuna, took exception. The lawsuit alleged that sustainable fishing pushed Chicken of the Sea, Starkist, and Bumble Bee foods to the dark side.

Per the Washington Post: “’Executives from Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, and StarKist were concerned that a switch to a more sustainable method of fishing would decrease supply and put pressure on their margins,’ according to the lawsuit.”

Former executives at each tuna company pleaded guilty to price-fixing in 2017.

The strike: Financial terms of the settlement have not been released; although Bumble Bee foods paid a $25 million fine last year under similar cicumstances. Additionally, canned tuna sales across the U.S. are on the decline. At the peak of canned tuna’s popularity (around 1990), 85 percent of Americans kept a tin or two in the cupboard. Rising tuna prices, health concerns, and angst over dolphin bycatch have sent canned tuna’s popularity to its lowest point in 20 years.

That may be a good thing for the world, as global tuna fisheries are stressed. Some experts believe that commercial tuna fishing will become unsustainable in the near future, and that a global shift in appetite is necessary to save tuna’s vital part of the ocean’s food chain.

What are we on about? This:

Pumpkin spice profits

According to a recent report by Recode, over 55 million U.S. consumers over the age of 14 will make an in-store purchase using mobile payment by the end of this year. But right now, the market leader in that segment isn’t a tech giant, it’s a coffee company. Overpriced latte enthusiast Starbucks currently has more mobile pay users in the U.S. than Apple, Google, and Samsung. Right now, the company is on trend to surpass 23 million users by the time you’re taking Christmas returns. Compare that to Apple (about 19 million) and Google (about 11 million), and you’re left with a shocking result.

The strike: The numbers are impressive; however, a deeper dive offers some logic to the trend. First, Starbucks’ mobile pay app is available on both Android and Apple devices, so it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. Second, the company wisely bundled a rewards program with the payment feature, giving consumers a tangible reason to download it—free overpriced lattes.

What should retailers read from the news? Simple: if mobile pay is not available to your customers right now, it should be. Apple Pay requires a contactless point-of-sale terminal. It’s already compatible with most Visa, MasterCard, AMEX and Discover systems, and Apple says you should be able to configure it without changes to your system.

Google Pay is also widely available on most credit card terminals and even comes with some handy tips for your staff.

Short Strikes recognizes that the majority of your customers aren’t coming in and paying with their phone just yet. If you’re like many fishing tackle stores, cold hard cash is still king. Still, the Class of 2022 is already enrolled in high school…the future is on the way.