From the desk of the ALA President 11/20/20

“Joe and I have always believed that, as a nation, we have many obligations. But we only have one truly sacred obligation: to properly prepare and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way. And to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home.”  Jill Biden, wife of Presidential Candidate Joe Biden speaking at the virtual Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) summit on November 17. 

“We are necessary to the well-being and quality of life of our military families. We provide a tangible value through the benefit of savings, which benefits our patrons financially. We also provide a community value through the various community support endeavors…scholarships, spousal employment, exchange partnerships with family fitness festivals, and others. A sense of community is critical during the stressful times of spousal deployment and unfamiliar settings. We are the link in supporting our patrons for products and services that are familiar, valued, and represent their choices.” From the DeCA Fiscal Year 2020 audit. 

“A more informed consumer combined with a more informed manufacturer and a more informed retailer should provide all of us with a greater sense of ease and ensure we can meet this growing demand,” Geoff Freeman, CEO of the Consumer Brands association commenting on the latest pandemic wave and impact on retail. 

Pandemic continues to disrupt resale.  Convulsions reverberate across the resale supply chain as the pandemic intensifies.  The accelerating number of cases in the U.S. is reverberating in the military and more installations oscillate between HPCON Bravo and Charlie.  The restrictions both at the gate and at the stores continue to cause disruptions in product flow.  Exchange and commissary managers and their suppliers are taking extraordinary efforts to keep military families supplied.  Industry continues to experience convulsions in product flow, particularly in some categories.  Evidence is growing that there is another wave of product shortages associated with the accelerated COVID case numbers.  Americans are again stockpiling cleaning supplies and toilet paper as the U.S. experiences another surge of coronavirus.

New pandemic wave also ripples across commercial grocery.  More than half of the counties across the country have seen the peak of their cases this month.  76% of counties have peaked at some point so far this fall causing people to start stockpiling again.  Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said that supply chains can’t meet the rising demand, especially in locations in communities experiencing sizable spikes in new cases.   Supermarket chains including Kroger, Publix and H-E-B are now limiting in-store and online purchases of toilet paper and other paper goods along with cleaning supplies to reduce the strain on supply chains.   Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, told AP he expects stores to be better prepared for the uptick. “A more informed consumer combined with a more informed manufacturer and a more informed retailer should provide all of us with a greater sense of ease and ensure we can meet this growing demand,” Freeman said. Grocery stores are reinstating purchase limits on items like paper towels or soap for the first time since the spring, as consumers stock up on staples amid rising Covid-19 cases.  With people staying at home more, retailers say there is renewed demand for paper products and frozen foods. Stores also are reporting new shortages in staple cooking ingredients like butter and spices.

The supermarket trades report that Kroger, the nation’s largest grocer, and Publix Super Markets Inc., a chain of more than 1,200 stores in the Southeast, reinstated limits on bath tissue and paper towels last week. Kroger also brought back limits on hand soap and disinfectant wipes. Recently, there has been some shortage of paper and cleaning products as coronavirus cases surge, said Kevin Hourican, chief executive of food-service distributor Sysco Corp.    Grocers expect cleaning wipes to remain scarce into 2021, and some anticipate a potential resurgence in sales of bleach. Face masks and immunity-boosting products have started to sell more, too.  While manufacturers and retailers have rebuilt supplies from the early months of the pandemic—when they experienced months-long shortages in canned food, pasta and toilet paper—they are far from full recovery. Retailers said they still aren’t receiving their full orders of baking items, soup and other fast-selling products.

 Some grocers, including Wegmans Food Markets Inc., haven’t fully lifted limits on staples to build up extra inventory.  Grocery executives say they have learned that consumers care more about buying what they need than getting a specific product. Retailers are giving priority to ways to keep their shelves stocked, focusing on the key staples instead of offering a variety of choices.     “It doesn’t mean you won’t get what you need, you just might not get the brand you want,” said Keith Knopf, CEO of Raley’s Inc., a chain of about 130 grocery stores in California and Nevada.

Spices ranging from cinnamon to paprika are among the latest items to run short because demand rose much earlier in the year than usual, said Mark Griffin, president of B&R Stores Inc. Suppliers typically prepare throughout the summer for a surge in sales around the holidays when they sell up to 80% of their inventory. This year, that rush came faster as shoppers cooked more at home and restocked their pantries.   In recent weeks, shoppers also started stocking up on frozen food, said Lori Raya, chief merchandising and marketing officer at Spartan Nash Co. Frozen food—along with meat and dairy items that consumers typically stockpile—drove much of the retailer’s latest sales bump.  According to the IRI CPG Demand Index, which measures weekly consumer spending, sales of frozen foods, including meals and snacks, jumped in grocery stores for the week ended Nov. 1 compared with a year ago.  Bob Nolan, head of analytics at Conagra Brands Inc., maker of Healthy Choice frozen meals and Birds Eye frozen vegetables, said the demand is partly driven by consumers filling up secondary freezers they bought during the pandemic. “Now those people have more capacity to store frozen food than they did in the spring,” he said.  Robinson Fresh, the produce division of logistics company C.H. Robinson, said it is working with retailers this winter to put inventory in multiple locations in case there is a surge in one area and less than expected in another.

Political Transitions:  

Administration: Even as votes continue to be counted, contested and certified, the Biden team is proceeding with transition planning including appointment of transition teams for each government sector, including Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.  Candidates for cabinet positions and sub cabinet positions are being reviewed.  To navigate those fights, Biden has tapped Jen Psaki, President Barack Obama’s former White House communications director, to lead a team overseeing the confirmation process. Olivia Dalton, a former Biden Senate aide and campaign consultant, will head communications and Reema Dodin, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin’s floor director, will take the lead on legislative strategy. 

In the Senate:  Whether the Republicans or the Democrats control the Senate is going to be determined by a run-off election in Georgia for their two senators.  That election is January 5, 2021.  

In the House:  Results are still coming in, but the Democrats have a thinner majority following the election with under ten seats between the parties.  Competition is heating up for the ranking position on House Armed Services.  Rep. Mac Thornberry is retiring and at least three Committee Republicans have thrown their hat in the rig for the raking slot, including reportedly Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia who just received the ALA’s Distinguished Service Award.  Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama and Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio also are competing for the position. 

Afghanistan and Iraq troop withdrawal?  It fell to acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, just one week on the job, to execute the order President Trump issued over Pentagon objections, to withdraw 3,000 troops from Afghanistan and Iraq leaving a force of just 2,500 in both countries

NDAA.  House and Senate conferees will meet in closed session today to work out differences on the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which is named for outgoing Republican Rep. William M. “Mac” Thornberry.   Among the outstanding issues: limits on U.S. troop reductions in Germany and South Korea, the renaming of Army bases that honor Confederate military leaders and increased congressional oversight of the Pentagon.  There are a number of issues in the NDAA that affect resale including a review of DeCA pricing and business processes by the Government Accountability Office and a review of savings and costs of resale consolidation. 

December 11 is the latest deadline for the government shutdown.  Most expect at least a patch or continuing resolution to keep the government open and the commissaries from closing, even while appropriations committees are working to get agreement on a full 2021 appropriation that would fund the Government until September 30, 2021.  ALA is working to ensure commissaries stay open even in the event of a shutdown. 

 Balancing the Pentagon checkbook.  DoD spent $203 million this year auditing some $2.9 trillion of assets and the Acting Controller of the Department said that it would take ten years to complete the audit.  One of the bright spots of the audit was that several agencies got a clean opinion, including DeCA.  Others were the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — Civil Works; the Military Retirement Fund; the Defense Health Agency — Contract Resource Management; the Defense Contract Audit Agency; the Defense Finance and Accounting Service; and the DOD’s Office of the Inspector General.

 Commissary Agency audit is revealing.  If you want a peek inside DECA, here is one source; the DeCA audit that covers September 30, 2019 to September 30, 2020.  In a statement, DeCA Deputy Director Mike Dowling cited the commissary workforce for their “Character, commitment, and competence.”  Audit highlights:

·      $4.6 billion in sales

·      69 million transactions

·      5.4 million households

·      14,228 employees

·      operating costs $1.3 billion.

·      $250 million in surcharge

·      Between the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the expansion of the agency’s customer base by up to 4 million new patrons, DeCA had to be more flexible in FY 2020 than any other year since perhaps 1991 when the agency stood up.

·      Continued deployment of DeCA’s Enterprise Business Solution (EBS), complete store resets and new planograms

·      Ongoing deployment of CLICK2GO, natural disasters, and leadership transitions.   

·      As the pandemic began to spread worldwide, the Department of Defense designated commissaries, our central distribution centers (CDCs), and central meat processing plant as mission critical to DoD’s response.

·      $88.3 million in margin generation.  DeCA says it “used authority provided by Congress in 2016 and 2017 develop business processes to support a profit and loss business model by using Category Performance Improvement to drive lower cost of goods, 2) continuing to provide a price value proposition compared to retailers “outside-the-gate” (variable pricing) and developing a margin commensurate with the goals.  $88.3million was generated by this program in 2020.”

·      Unmodified opinion for 2020. “DeCA is in its 20th year of being audited by an external auditing firm and received an unmodified opinion for fiscal FY 2020 financial statements, which means a third- party examination found no substantial discrepancies in the agency’s finances. However, it is noted that we still have some improvements in the areas of inventory internal controls and information systems.”

·      Customer service survey not available at the time of the audit.

·      Customer savings not available at the time of the audit.

·      American Customer Satisfaction Index or ACSI was cancelled by the Office of the Secretary of Defense due to the pandemic. 

·      Category Performance Improvement (CPI) effort described.  The audit said: “This measure compares the Agency’s projected sales and transactions goals to results. Our CPI efforts are focused on growing the business of the top 30 categories and top 15 suppliers and improving the customer shopping experience to achieve and maintain positive trends and increase sales. Marketing and sales activities to support efforts include: expanding Commissary Store Brand items (private label); the Your Everyday Savings (YES) program; health and wellness focus; improved item availability; expansion of prepared meals; collaboration and joint efforts with Exchanges; and increased marketing of the benefit through all social media channels  to enable increased transactions.”

·      Sales.  “FY 2020 sales results are $4.508B, an increase of $26.0M above the target of $4.482B. Transaction results are 69.15M, 87.3% below the target of 79.21M, due to changing consumer behavior with customers shopping less often and buying more. This year’s sales number is over $4.5 million, a 1 percent increase from fiscal 2019. As to be expected, the COVID-19 pandemic played a large part in the final number. March’s sales numbers were nearly $500 million, a 29.89 percent increase over that same time last year; transactions for March were also up by almost 8 percent, and units sold increased 22 percent over that same period. Three of the top 15 sales days occurred in March to include the top grossing sales day in the last 20 years: March 13 at $34.6 million, followed by March 14 at $28.4 million, and preceded by March 12 at $26.8 million.”

·      Emergency hiring.  “DeCA used its critical hire authority to fast-track the hiring of over 1,000 temporary store and CDC employees needed to keep stores properly staffed. At some locations, installations volunteered service members to help stock shelves. As products of all types began flying off the shelves around the world, DeCA’s logistic network really began to hum. Inbound shipments jumped 37 percent for the Pacific and 30 percent for Europe, and the agency arranged for 35 airlifts delivering over 4 million pounds of product overseas. In the U.S., the agency’s distributors were 1-2 days behind normal delivery schedules during a period when customers were panic buying, causing empty shelves.”

·      Demographics – U.S. Households Acquired: “This measure gauges progress of market penetration of authorized U.S. households acquired by maximizing item movement data and leveraging customer relationship management. Total market penetration is the total number of acquired households in the U.S., within 20 miles of the installation, compared to the number of potential households. The FY 2020 result is 59.8% which is below the prior year result of 66%, as a result of changing consumer behaviors, i.e., increased online ordering, fewer shopping trips with higher basket rings, reduced brand loyalty, and shopping trips concentrated on fewer retail locations.”

·      Pandemic Spring 2020 surge.  “In March, the agency posted record-breaking sales numbers. According to Nielson, a global provider of syndicated data, weekly U.S. commissary sales, not including Alaska and Hawaii, peaked during the week ending March 14, skyrocketing 90 percent over the same period in 2019. The week ending March 21 was also huge, with a sales spike of 64.2 percent, year-over- year. On April 14, we announced our participation in the agent shopping program, where installation leaders recruited volunteers and connected them with customers who could not shop for themselves. Meanwhile, to help protect our employees and customers, we began to make changes to our store processes. We installed acrylic shields at checkouts, began disinfecting shopping carts, installed hand-washing stations, required face coverings, set purchase limits on certain high- demand products, and instituted social distancing measures, among other safety protocols.”

·      Unobligated balances or appropriated funds left over from prior years as of 9/30/20 — $183 million.

·      Pandemic supplemental funding.  “On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act  (Public Law 116-136) was signed into law, which provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations for federal agencies to respond to COVID-19. The supplemental appropriations are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits. DeCA received $34.7 million in CARES Act Funding that was fully executed, tracked and reported in accordance with defined guidelines. DeCA received an appropriation transfer of $34.7 million to the Defense Working Capital Fund based on an internal reprogramming action FY 20- 31 IR (CARES Act – IT The funding was used for non-medical PPE, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, and to increase core hours for part-time DeCA store employees working worldwide to assist in store level clean-up and shelf stocking. Funds are also required for additional air shipments to Europe and the Pacific and truck deliveries from the Central Distribution Plants to meet surge demand at overseas commissaries due to COVID-19. These are CARES Act division B, Title III, requirements.”

·      Expansion of Authorized Patrons. “On January 1, the commissary benefit welcomed home over 4 million service-connected disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and primary veteran caregivers who were granted eligibility by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Through the NDAA these newly authorized customers can also shop the military exchanges and use certain morale, welfare, and recreation activities. These new customers have full access to their commissary benefit, including the ability to create an online account on the MyCommissary portal so they can register for their Commissary Rewards Card, view commissary sale flyers with prices and use the curbside CLICK2GO service where available.”

·      Leadership Transition. “The last part of the fiscal year brought major leadership transitions. On July 17, DoD announced a new Director. Retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, CEO of Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM). RDML Bianchi had led the agency since November 2017, when DoD leadership asked him to act as interim director and then later, as Special Assistant for Commissary Operations to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Other leadership transitions included Marine Sgt.Maj. Michael R. Saucedo replacing Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka N. O’Neal in August as the senior enlisted advisor to the director, and Army Sgt. Maj. Matthew Baller replacing Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Jones as the senior enlisted advisor for overseas operations.”

·      Patron Savings. “Congress requires that DeCA maintain savings at levels that are reasonably consistent with the fiscal 2016 baseline savings of 23.5 percent. As of the second quarter, commissary patrons worldwide saved 24.2 percent during the timespan between January and March, marking a 0.7 percent increase in global customer savings percentage over the 2016 baseline. The global savings level is a weighted average of both U.S. and overseas regions.”

·       Enterprise Business Solution. “The Enterprise Business Solution (EBS) is a modernization of DeCA’s entire resale business operations including all processes associated with vendor/supplier communication, contracting, cataloging, pricing, promotions, planogramming, ordering, receiving, inventory, customer relationship management, point of sale, financial, and warehouse management. They are a tightly interconnected suite of applications which share a common operational data store and graphic user interface that helps the agency make decisions. The suite is being deployed incrementally but retains the integrated characteristics of the entire suite. Stores in zones 8 and 9 stores will receive updates in the different systems before the end of the year. Stores in zones 4, 6, 16, and 27 are next to receive the updates or deployment of the system before the end of CY 2020. Here are some stats on the deployment for the year:

o Increment 1 – Merchandising Suite
§ Consists of Power HQ Master Catalog, Category Manager, RELEX Planogramming, 

Clear Demand Price Optimization
§ Deployment has been completed with a planned upgrade in FY 2022 

o Increment 2 – Replenishment Suite
§ Consists of Power Demand Analytics (DAX) and Power Inventory Manager (IM) § Deployed to 168 stores and 4 NEXMarts by the end of FY 2020

o Increment 3 – Sales Channel Suite
§ Consists of Emerald POS, CLICK2GO with Power Picking and RetailOne CRM 

§ Deployed Emerald POS to 80 of 236 stores by the end of FY 2020 § Deployed 3 additional CLICK2GO stores in FY 2020

o Increment 4 – Warehouse Management/Financial Management Suite
§ Consists of Power Enterprise (PE) and Power Warehouse (PW)
§ Deployment will start in FY 2021 at the Guam CDC due to COVID-19 travel restrictions”

• Collaboration with the Exchanges. “For the first time DeCA and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) began selling each other’s gift cards this fiscal year. As of June 22, both organizations’ gift cards were open value: AAFES cards sold in commissaries are available in denominations from $5 to $1,500, and commissary cards sold in exchanges are available in amounts from $5 to $300. Authorized customers redeem the gift cards at their namesake’s facility or online. We share a similar agreement with NEXCOM for gift card sales; our partnership with the Navy began in May 2018. Our collaborations will continue with the exchanges with sales events like Month of the Military Child, Military Appreciation Month, Veterans Appreciation, and Pay Your Bill, just to name a few.”

·      Brunssum Grand Opening. The agency opened its newest store July 29 at the NATO Industrial Complex Brunssum, in the Netherlands. The new store took the place of the Schinnen Commissary and boasts a larger sales floor and produce, meat, and grocery departments. It also offers a wide variety of frozen foods and fresh dairy products, an international delicatessen/bakery, and three regular checkouts and four self-checkouts. Opening day sales were over $7,000.

• Commissary Store Brands. “Commissary Store Brands were introduced in 2017 and customers have shown us how much they like them. Store brand sales in fiscal 2020 were over $136 million and the program moved almost 62,000 products. This year, Freedom’s Choice enhanced water label was awarded a 2020 Gold Vertex Award for packaging design. The competition included more than 400 entries from 27 countries and 49 retailers. Since the program’s inception, we have added almost 1,000 private label products designed to give our customers choices at different price points. Commissary store brands are sold under seven names: Freedom’s Choice (food items), HomeBase (non-food items), TopCare (health and beauty), Full Circle Market (natural and organic food options), Tippy Toes (baby products), Flock’s Finest (wild bird food), Pure Harmony (pet food), and Wide Awake (coffee beverages). TopCare, Full Circle Market, Tippy Toes, Flock’s Finest, Pure Harmony, and Wide Awake are not exclusive to DeCA.” 

• CLICK2GO Expansion. “Delivering the benefit to our customers where they are is vitally important to the success of the commissary benefit. We created CLICK2GO, an online ordering and curbside grocery pick up service, to meet customer needs. This fiscal year CLICK2GO was launched at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, October 3, 2019; McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, April 6; Fort Lee, Virginia, August 4; Charleston Air Force Base, September 22; and at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, October 27. We expect to continue deployment at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, in November, followed by Fort Polk, Louisiana, and many more stores next year.”

·       Health and Wellness. “Our health and wellness program, now called the Dietitian Approved Thumb (DAT), is a multi-tiered program designed to help our patrons cook more meals at home, build a more nutrient-dense shopping basket, position the commissary as a meal destination, and help with meal planning. We are unique in that we, as a grocery store, can provide scientifically credible resources to the military community, and patrons can feel safe shopping with us. This year retooling allowed for more items to qualify for the dietitian- approved designation and the program can now analyze recipes concerning their nutrition information, which will accompany those recipes whenever they are shared in our sales flyer or posted on our website.”

·       ProCamps Events. For the past 8 years Procter and Gamble (P&G) has worked with NFL ProCamps to sponsor 2-day football camps in partnership with the agency and the exchange services. Military bases qualify for a camp based on sales of designated P&G products at their local commissaries and exchanges. The camps, led by NFL football players, are open to first- through eighth-grade children of active duty military, reservists, retirees and DoD civilian employees. This fiscal year winners were Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia; Camp Pendleton, California; Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Barksdale AFB, Louisiana; Fort Riley, Kansas; Okinawa, Japan; and Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

·       Commissary Gift Card. Throughout the fiscal year our customers purchased just over 90,000 gift cards valued at over $3.2 million. The availability of open value cards in commissaries will grow as the ongoing EBS rollout provides Emerald point of sale systems capable of processing the cards.

·       Scholarships for Military Children. Among those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic precautions were school-aged children. Most schools around the world, including DoD schools, pivoted to online instruction early in 2020. Even so, the Scholarships for Military Children program, administered by the Fisher House Foundation, awarded 500 students from military families a $2,000 scholarship grant for the 2020-2021 school year. In its 20th year, the program’s mission is to recognize the contributions of military families to the readiness of the fighting force and celebrate the commissaries’ role in enhancing the military’s quality of life.”

·       Customer Experience Survey. “In July 2019, the agency launched a new customer service tool, ForeSee, which gave us access to more frequent customer feedback, real time data, and automated reports that help determine the key drivers of customer satisfaction. It also allows us to compare our performance to commercial grocers.  We have continued to fine-tune the survey to ensure we are getting as much insight as possible. This year we added three open ended recently, the agency gained the ability to respond to customers directly when requested. More improvements are planned for the survey including targeted surveys and social media driven surveys.”

·       Customer Reach. The agency is active on multiple social media platforms. In addition, the agency has other avenues of reaching customers to share information about their benefit such as the Commissary Connection and agency website, www.Commissaries.com. As of Oct. 22, the agency reach was:

o Facebook – 79,314 followers
o Twitter – 6,960 followers
o Instagram – 5,520 followers
o Pinterest – 2,000 followers and 32,000 monthly views
o YouTube –1,131 subscribers and almost 300,000 page views 

o Vimeo – 22,000 views 

o Commissary Connection – 142,154 email subscribers and 107,625 total unique visits with 258,321 total page views

Commissaries.com – total page views 5,699,842, unique users – 1,587,283 and total session – 2,362,449 (figures are from January 16 to September 30)

The full commissary audit can be found here: https://www.commissaries.com/sites/default/files/2020-11/FY_2020_AFR.pdf

Online grocery delivery giant Instacart readying an initial public offering valued at about $30 billion.  Instacart has enlisted investment bank Goldman Sachs to lead the IPO, which could be launched in early 2021, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources.  The IPO is being stepped up, Reuters said, after California voters on Election Day approved Proposition 22. The ballot measure, supported by companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, reaffirms the independent contractor status of app-based “gig economy” workers — such as drivers and delivery personnel — and essentially quashes California Assembly Bill 5, which would have classified them as employees receiving full benefits and labor protections.  Reports of an impending Instacart IPO emerged late last week, when last-mile food delivery provider DoorDash filed for IPO.  Currently, Instacart offers its online marketplace, delivery and pickup services in more than 5,500 cities across North America, reaching over 85% of U.S. households and more than 70% of Canadian households. Since March, the company has launched or expanded with roughly 150 retailers and introduced delivery at more than 8,000 stores and pickup at over 1,500 stores. And in response to surging demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has enlarged its base of personal shoppers by more than 500,000 to a total of over 750,000.  Instacart also has continued to expand retail partner base beyond grocery. In September, the company made forays into three new retail markets — home goods, specialty beauty care and convenience stores. 

Army & Air Force Exchange Service Chief Executive Officer Tom Shull and Tinker AFB, Okla., received awards during a virtual ceremony from the Oklahoma Military Order of the Purple Heart and Oklahoma Veterans Support Team.  Shull was honored with the Spirit of Oklahoma Outstanding Veteran Supporter of the Year Award, which was presented by retired Navy Master Chief Larry Van Schuyver, Military Order of the Purple Heart representative and chairman of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission.  Military Order of the Purple Heart chapters 589, 902, 602, 820, and 641 voted to present the award, the state’s highest honor for veteran supporters, in recognition of the Exchange’s robust employment of veterans and Wounded Warriors. Two other awards were presented during the ceremony: The Associate Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Tinker AFB Exchange Services Operations Assistant Dan Shibe; and the Business Supporter of the Year Award was given to the Tinker AFB Exchange. “None of us ever wants to shed blood for our country, but for those Purple Heart recipients who have made that sacrifice, we have the highest, highest regard,” Tiemann said. “To have an award like this bestowed upon our Exchange makes this a truly a great day for Tinker, our community and all those who represent our armed forces.”  In addition to his role with the Oklahoma Veterans Commission, Van Schuyver operates Sittin’ Pretty USA, an Exchange concessionaire that uses proceeds from the sale of military and veteran pride apparel to support in-need veterans across Oklahoma.  “It is truly a privilege to serve with amazing teammates like Larry, who are all in to honor our nation’s warfighters past, present and future,” Shull said. “The Exchange is humbled by this tremendous recognition, which would not have been possible without the efforts of Dan and his Tinker Exchange teammates to serve those who serve.”

Tailored Brands, parent of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, expects to successfully emerge from Chapter 11 protection.  The move is expected by the end of November, after the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas confirmed the retailer’s reorganization plan. “We are extremely pleased to have reached this milestone, said Tailored Brands president and CEO Dinesh Lathi. “Over the past three months, we have not only continued to advance steadily through this financial restructuring but also implemented BOPIS and contactless payment technology to better serve our customers during the pandemic; further curated our assortments to make them more shoppable and relevant. Under the terms of the plan, Tailored Brands will emerge with a strengthened capital structure having eliminated $686 million of funded debt from its balance sheet. The capital structure of the reorganized company is expected to consist of a $430 million ABL facility, a $365 million exit term loan and $75 million of cash from a new debt facility to support ongoing operations and strategic initiatives.

Amazon announced two new pharmacy offerings. Amazon Pharmacy, a new store on Amazon, allows customers to complete an entire pharmacy transaction on their desktop or mobile device through the Amazon App. Using a secure pharmacy profile, customers can add their insurance information, manage prescriptions, and choose payment options before checking out. Prime members receive unlimited, free two-day delivery on orders from Amazon Pharmacy included with their membership. “As more and more people look to complete everyday errands from home, pharmacy is an important and needed addition to the Amazon online store,” commented Doug Herrington, Senior Vice President of North American Consumer at Amazon. “PillPack has provided exceptional pharmacy service for individuals with chronic health conditions for over six years. Now, we’re expanding our pharmacy offering to Amazon.com, which will help more customers save time, save money, simplify their lives, and feel healthier.”

The Defense Department now has a four-month supply of personal protective equipment including respirators, surgical masks and gloves to see troops and families through the second wave of COVID-19. The supplies, which aren’t part of the department’s pandemic reserves, were procured by the Defense Logistics Agency to help replenish on-hand stock for military services and geographic combatant commands. Much of it will be used for patient care at military treatment facilities and by service members training or deployed, said Army Col. Matthew Voyles, director of DLA Troop Support’s medical supply chain. “The new reality is that all of our service members have got to have personal protective equipment. This PPE will be used across the gamut, from individual units at tactical levels to treatment facilities here stateside and at our overseas locations where all service members and beneficiaries receive care,” Voyles said. 

Quantities were based on demand prediction models and in coordination with the department’s COVID-19 Joint Acquisition Task Force. Widespread material shortages early in the pandemic prompted DLA Troop Support to work with logistics planners at the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Health Agency to create a priority and allocation board made up of members from the defense medical logistics enterprise who meet weekly to prioritize protective equipment orders based on customer missions and the virus’s prevalence in local communities, Voyles said. Readiness and contingency contracts such as those managed through the agency’s Warstopper program helped the agency meet initial military needs, as well.

Amazon garage delivery.  The world’s largest online retailer said in a statement Thursday that it is expanding an in-garage delivery program for Prime subscribers to some 4,000 U.S. cities, up from 50 previously. Amazon launched Amazon Key in late 2017, offering to deliver packages inside the homes of shoppers with smart front-door locks by equipping delivery drivers with a one-time code to place packages just inside. The company touted the service as a convenient way to limit theft and launched a companion indoor camera.

$240M for base support services in Diego Garcia.  Kellogg Brown Root has been awarded a $61,307,522 modification for base operating support services at U.S. Navy Support Facility, Diego Garcia. After award of this option, the total cumulative contract value will be $240,038,950.  The work to be performed provides for general management and administration services; command and staff (information technology services, information technology support and management, telephone services, telecommunication services, antenna maintenance); public safety (fire protection and emergency services); air operations (ground electronics, airfield facilities, and passenger terminal and cargo handling); port operations; supply (supply services and petroleum, oil and lubricant management and operations, and ship’s store service activities); morale, welfare and recreation support; galley; bachelor quarters; facilities support (facility management, facility investment sustainment, restoration and modernization, custodial, pest control, integrated solid waste management, grounds maintenance, and pavement clearance); utilities (electrical, compressed gases, wastewater, steam, hot water and demineralized water and potable water); base support vehicles and equipment; and environmental to provide integrated base operating services. Work will be performed in Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, and is expected to be completed by November 2021.

Best regards,

Stephen Rossetti

President

 

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(Military.com) As the U.S. military awaits its new commander in chief, experts predict that the White House under Joe Biden will cut defense spending, encourage more social diversity in the ranks, and position himself as an ally of veterans and military families.
   

As new vaccines near delivery, general in charge of distribution says he’s ‘ready to execute’
(Military.com) President Donald Trump said Friday that the initial delivery of COVID-19 vaccines could begin to states — with the exception of New York — next month, once final approvals are given by the Food and Drug Administration.
 

2. Formal NDAA talks to begin under shadow of Confederate renaming issue
(Defense News) U.S. House and Senate conferees will meet Wednesday to wrangle over the massive 2021 defense authorization bill, but they still face potentially bill-derailing fights over whether to keep plans requiring the retitling of Confederate-named bases and regarding an Afghanistan drawdown.
   

Top GOP post on House Armed Services draws tough competition
(Defense News) The decision on who will replace Rep. Mac Thornberry as the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee will be resolved in a few weeks, but the campaign for his seat has been underway for years.
   

The Military Times guide to Tricare and FEDVIP open season
(Military Times) Tricare Open Season runs through Dec. 14, and this is the only time of year you can enroll in Tricare or make changes, unless you have a qualifying life event — such as a marriage or birth, permanent change of station move, or retirement.
 

2. Esper replacement Chris Miller tells US troops: ‘It’s time to come home’
(Fox News) Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller shared his first message with U.S. troops on Friday after being appointed by President Trump this week: “It’s time to come home.”
   

The Pentagon failed its audit again, but sees progress
(Defense News) The U.S. Department of Defense has once again failed to achieve a clean audit, but officials are urging patience for what is expected to be a long-term effort.
   

5. VA moving ahead with plans to outsource all compensation and pension exams
(Military Times) Despite concerns from lawmakers, Veterans Affairs officials are moving ahead with plans to outsource nearly all compensation and pension exams in coming months, a move they believe will improve service for veterans.
   

 A ‘sacred obligation:’ Jill Biden pledges support for military families as first lady
(Military.com) In her first widely broadcast appearance since her husband won the presidential election, Jill Biden pledged continued support for military families — an extension of the work undertaken when she served as second lady. 

  1. Pentagon shakeup means more civilian oversight for special operations
(Military Times) More than three years after Congress mandated that the Defense Department elevate its civilian head of special operations to the same level as a military service secretary, that order has finally been carried out.
   

 Senate committee calls for large cuts in Marine Corps end strength
(Marine Corps Times) The Senate Appropriations Committee on Nov. 10 ― the Marine Corps’ birthday ― proposed a massive personnel cut for the Corps; one going beyond any other current proposal.
   

INDUSTRY NEWS

J.C. Penney wins approval for sale to Brookfield, Simon

A federal judge has authorized J.C. Penney’s multipart deal to emerge from bankruptcy protection in time for the holidays. As part of the deal, Brookfield Property Partners and Simon Property Group will acquire Penney’s retail operations in a debt and cash deal valued at $1.75 billion, allowing stores to continue to operate and saving about 60,000 jobs.

Uber could soon help sell $1B in grocery sales annually

With the pandemic hurting its ride share business, Uber has turned its attention to grocery and food delivery, and recently made two acquisitions that could result in facilitating $1 billion in grocery sales per year. The company’s delivery business has been boosted by acquiring the Postmates platform as well as Cornershop, a Chilean company that enabled Uber to start food delivery in Canada and Latin America.

RESALE NEWS:

DOD Officials Consider Drastic Measures to Address Critical Commissary Shortages

DOD Completes Fiscal Year 2020 Department-Wide Financial Statement Audit; Continued Value and Progress Despite COVID-19 Constraints

Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) WCF; and the Defense Commissary Agency. These were the 26th and 21st consecutive unmodified opinion…

Holloman Air Force Base goes to HPCON Charlie due to coronavirus

businesses on Holloman Air Force Base, restaurants are only open for carry-out and some changes are coming to the Commissary and Base

Commissaries announce holiday schedule

DeCA director. –DeCA– About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military

Hard Rock International : Honors U.S. Military Veterans Through Exclusive Partnership With Military Exchanges

products will be sold at AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange), NEX (Navy Exchange) and MCX (Marine Corps Exchange) starting on Veterans Day,

CMX Tapped to Provide the Defense Commissary Agency with Product Recall Management Software for Stores and Distribution Centers Worldwide | Benzinga https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/20/11/p18335705/cmx-tapped-to-provide-the-defense-commissary-agency-with-product-recall-management-software-for-st

NEX Locations Once Again Closed on Thanksgiving Day

Once again this year, NEX locations will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, so customers as well as NEX associates can spend the day with loved ones.

“Our NEX locations are going the extra nautical mile to support our customers and their families this holiday season,” said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM). “We know this holiday season will look vastly different and families won’t be gathering together as they have in years past. The health and safety of our customers and associates are our #1 priories. To that end, we have implemented several measures so our customers can shop smarter and safer this year.”

To lessen crowds in stores, one-day sales have been replaced with three-day sales to give customers more time to shop. At some larger NEX locations, specific time slots for senior and high risk customers are being offered as well as after-hours “By Appointment” shopping for those who would prefer to limit interaction even further. In addition, several NEX locations offer a Drive/Up curbside delivery program.

To further protect the health of its customers, NEX locations continue to clean high traffic areas including regularly wiping down surfaces, door handles, shopping carts and other public areas as prescribed by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and sneeze shields remain in place at cash registers. Sanitation wipes and / or hand sanitizer will be available at cash registers. There will be a strict occupancy limit in stores as well as a limit to the number of customers allowed in the checkout line during peak shopping days. Finally, everyone inside a NEX location must wear cloth face covering and social distance at all times.

For those who prefer to shop from home, myNavyExchange.com will offer the same great deals as NEX stores, when possible and available. Shipping is free when using a MILITARY STAR card or for purchases over $49.95.

“We’ve also worked hard to still bring you the holiday spirit you’ve come to expect from your NEX,” said Bianchi. “This holiday season we will be hosting virtual events including cooking events, concerts, ‘meet and greets’ and more. Kids will also be able to ‘visit’ the North Pole to visit Santa Claus!”

More information on the NEX’s Navy Blue Holiday season and safety measures can be found at myNavyExchange.com/WeBelieve.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service Focuses on Safe, Sanitized and Secure Shopping Thanksgiving Weekend

DALLAS – While most Exchanges will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Army & Air Force Exchange Service stores worldwide will open on Black Friday, providing a safe, secure and sanitized shopping experience.

Shoppers looking to get an early start on holiday shopping can do so beginning at 8:00 a.m. at Exchanges the day after Thanksgiving.

“Shoppers that want the Black Friday shopping experience will find clean, sanitized stores, malls and restaurants,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, Exchange senior enlisted advisor. “Of course it will look different than traditional Black Fridays as capacity will be limited and social distancing will be enforced to ensure the safety of every shopper. The Exchange’s focus remains on protecting the force.”

Authorized shoppers can get a head start on special promotions, updated throughout the holiday season, by visiting the Exchange Weekly Ads page at https://www.shopmyexchange.com/savings-center/weekly-ads.

Facebook-friendly version: While Exchanges will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, stores worldwide will open at 8:00 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving providing a safe, secure and sanitized shopping experience. Shoppers looking to get an early start on holiday shopping can do so beginning at 8:00 a.m. at Exchanges worldwide the day after Thanksgiving. Read more: https://wp.me/p9Q7PG-1yV

Date                                               Event                                              More Information

Oct. 20 and Oct. 22 ALA National (Virtual) Convention

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