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March 23, 2018

Publishing News

Stoneman Douglas Student Activists Cover Time Magazine
USA Today: "Five survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting who have helped organize Saturday's March for Our Lives gun control demonstration are featured on the newest cover of Time magazine. On the cover, students-turned-activists Jaclyn Corin, Emma González, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and Alex Wind stand defiantly with the headline 'ENOUGH.' written in all caps across the page. 'On the surface, they’re not so different from previous generations of idealistic teenagers who set out to change the world, only to find it is not so easy,' Time reported. 'Yet over the past month, these students have become the central organizers of what may turn out to be the most powerful grassroots gun-reform movement in nearly two decades. For much of the rest of the country, numbed and depressed by repeated mass shootings, the question has become, Can these kids actually do it?'" In cable TV interviews yesterday, students from around the country planning to participate in Saturday's March for Our Lives protest expressed pride that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have joined the ranks of the influential figures who have been featured on Time's cover over the decades.

New York Media Buys Comedy Site Splitsider New York Media, publisher of New York magazine, Vulture, and the Cut, "announced that it has acquired Splitsider, the website about comedy and its creators, from the Awl Network. Since 2010, Splitsider has been a discerning voice covering a new generation of comedians, while creating an online community for comedy fans. Splitsider will be integrated into Vulture, as a destination for comedy coverage. The addition of Splitsider will accelerate a major comedy push at Vulture, with written and video content, live events, podcasts, and brand partnerships, with an expected launch in May to coincide with the 2018 Vulture Festival in New York City"... Variety: Terms were not disclosed. . New York Media will merge Splitsider, which launched in 2010, into as part of a new comedy section expected to debut in May... The sale of Splitsider by Awl Network, founded by Alex Balk and Choire Sicha, comes after the company in January shut down flagship site The Awl and sister site The Hairpin. Its sole remaining property is The Billfold, a millennial-targeted finance site, which is soliciting contributions from readers on Patreon to stay in business... Until the new comedy section is live, Splitsider will continue to operate as usual as Vulture migrates over its full content archive (which will remain accessible during the transition)"...

Teen Vogue Creates Its 1st Animated Digital Covers, for Gun Control Movement
From a release: "Teen Vogue’s latest digital cover package is dedicated to the new faces of the gun control movement, featuring two covers--the brand’s first-ever animated/moving covers--a portrait portfolio, videos, and a powerful cover story written by activist and Stoneman Douglas student Emma González. For the package, Teen Vogue invited gun violence survivors and gun control activists from across the U.S. to talk about the power of the next generation: young people who are working to end mass shootings and ensure student safety once and for all...youth from different backgrounds with different connections to the issue--to speak candidly about their experiences and what’s to come"...

Ex Playboy Model With AMI Contract Interviewed About Trump on CNN
NY Times: Former Playboy model Karen McDougal gave her first television interview about the affair she alleges she had with Donald J. Trump more than a decade ago, telling CNN's Anderson Cooper saying that he offered her money after their first sexual encounter, which she declined to take. "The interview came despite an agreement Ms. McDougal struck during the 2016 presidential campaign with American Media Inc., which owns The National Enquirer, to sell it the exclusive rights to her story about Mr. Trump in a $150,000 deal--part of what is known as a 'catch and kill' agreement in which a tabloid buys a story only to bury it... Ms. McDougal filed suit earlier this week to get out of her deal with American Media, saying she signed it under pressure and false pretenses, effectively silencing her on the affair. (American Media has denied her claims, saying over the past couple of days that the contract is valid, it was not trying to silence her, and indicating the story 'may be published' yet). Many of the details Ms. McDougal shared in her interview with Mr. Cooper were included in a piece in The New Yorker magazine last month, based on handwritten notes she took about the relationship..." AMI's release on the contract and relationship (link below) states in part: "On November 29, 2016, after the publication of an article in the Wall Street Journal, American Media amended Karen's contract to provide that she may respond to legitimate press inquiries concerning her relationship with President Donald Trump. She spoke with the New Yorker as a result of this amendment, is speaking with CNN, and is free to continue to speak to the press... The only thing she is limited from doing under her contract with American Media is selling her story rights to another publisher or media outlet... At no time has American Media, Inc. or its executives made any statement regarding [MacDougal's] honesty or credibility. Until [her attorney] filed a lawsuit, we believed we had a constructive relationship with [her] and acted accordingly."

Kevin Kunis Hired as VP, Finance, Hearst Autos
From a release: Kevin Kunis has been named VP, finance for Hearst Autos. That division encompasses all automotive sales and marketing functions for Hearst Magazines, including Car and Driver and Road & Track, and B-to-B digital media solutions company Jumpstart Automotive Media, which exclusively represents 12 publishers including U.S. News Best Cars, J.D. Power Cars, and Autobytel, among others. Kunis joins Hearst Autos from Condé Nast, where he spent more than 13 years leading brands towards optimal profitability, including new business ventures across both print and digital. Most recently, Kunis held the position of Vice President, Finance of the Lifestyle Collection where he managed both business development and finance.

Bannon Said Pursuing Newsweek, Which Says It's Not for Sale
NY Post: "Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Trump and former head of the alt-right Breitbart News site, is eyeing Newsweek, The Post has learned.Bannon’s interest in the 85-year-old magazine reflects his desire to get back into the news game, according to a person familiar with the Republican firebrand’s thinking.Bannon met recently with top executives at Newsweek to discuss a possible deal — but was turned aside, sources said.“He came calling recently and they turned him down,” said one source, speaking of Bannon.Besides possible competition for the title, Bannon’s aspiration to own the legendary newsweekly has one big impediment — it’s not for sale.“Newsweek is not for sale to anyone, including Steve Bannon,” a spokesman for Newsweek Media Group said.But Bannon, ever the bulldog, is not taking no for an answer. He continues to gather intelligence on the troubled company should it go into play, sources said. Newsweek Media Group, previously known as IBT Media, has been under scrutiny from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who is probing the company’s financial ties to Olivet University, a small California evangelical Christian college, sources said... [Bannon's] departure from the controversial site appears to have been bad for both parties. Traffic to Breitbart is down markedly since Bannon left. [See MediaPost link below.] And Bannon is said to have felt marginalized without a website to stir controversy. Bannon could not be reached for comment."
MediaPost (Breitbart traffic drops by half)

More on Layoffs at Meredith
NY Post reports that those among the 200 Meredith announced it is laying off at present include SVP Edouard Portelette, "who was heading The Foundry, the new digital hub that Time Inc. had built in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to house about 150 people working on native advertising and digital products. Chris Hercik, chief creative officer of The Foundry, was spared, and Meredith said that most of the workers from the two-year-old state-of-the-art building will just be moving across the river to Manhattan into 225 Liberty St., the onetime headquarters of Time Inc. 'Finance, accounting, human resources and legal were all decimated with layoffs,' said one source... other SVPs laid off included Jaison Blair, Kurt Rao, Russ Charlton and Judith Hammerman. Kevin Martinez, a group publisher over InStyle and StyleWatch, is also out"... 

Esquire Launches Branded Furniture Line
From a release: "Esquire will debut a licensed home furniture line at the 2018 Spring High Point Market in April, in partnership with Fine Furniture Design. The 50-piece collection, Esquire Home Collection by Fine Furniture Design, will feature 38 pieces for the bedroom, dining room and living spaces including an entertainment unit, three-drawered chest, bookcase, and console, as well as 12 complementary pieces including bar stools, dining chairs, and more"...

How The Economist Engages Young Audiences on Snapchat Discover "The Economist has been using Snapchat Discover since October 2016, joining over 40 publishers on the platform, including the BBC, The New York Times and Mashable. Lucy Rohr, the publication's Snapchat editor, was skeptical at first and she wasn't convinced the publisher would be right for the platform, but The Economist is now getting 7.1M unique visitors through the door every month. 'The audience for Snapchat was vast and young – it was going to be the Economist talking to 14-24 year olds," she said, speaking at the Digital Innovators' Summit in Berlin... 'We had to translate our very specific editorial voice to the platform, but we did not 'dumb ourselves down'--we realized that to underestimate the intellect of the younger audience, and their discernment, is a real mistake. 'It turns out that there is a segment of this audience that is globally curious.' Rohr explained that when setting out to create interactive snaps, 10 second looping videos, the team, whose five members are on both sides of the Atlantic, decided to produce deep-dives into single topics as opposed to trying to cover a variety of different issues. 'We made them like the 'ultimate cheat sheet'--providing the audience with the toolkit, vocabulary and context that they need to understand the rest of our journalism,' she said. 'Most publishers are showing make-up tips and celebrity news but we were not afraid to cover big stories that we thought should be on these young people's radars.' Bur Rohr said it was a challenge for the team to arrest the curiosity of a younger audience through a series of snaps, which would be engaging enough to sustain their attention till they swiped up and could then deliver meatier analysis. 'We needed to show and not tell, using our same editorial voice, but in a way that feels playful and relevant to the platform. Our decided approach was bold, elegant and playful, and we would do original animations and reporting for the platform. The thing that takes the most time even now is working out which topics are going to be a good fit, with enough analysis that can be translated into a 'Snappy' format – choosing a topic for the weekly edition requires careful consideration.' So far on the platform, The Economist has covered issues such as the threat posed by North Korea, the possibility of alien life, global warming and the legalization of drugs..."

Social Is The Primary Contributor To Negative Views Of News Media
MediaPost: "That Americans' views of news media has been eroding in recent years is not news, but the role that other media play in influencing it shows social media has been a primary negative influence.According to a 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy survey of 19,000 U.S. adults published by Statista, most media -- including the internet, various news aggregators and user-generated video content -- have contributed positively to consumer sentiment about news media over the past 10 years, except for social media." A chart in article shows 54% of adults polled saying social media has a negative impact on their views of news media, vs. 42% citing a positive impact. 53% said that political leaders using social media negatively impacts their views of news media, vs. 45% citing a positive impact. In comparison, between 52% and 58% said that cable news, news aggregators, the internet and "videos shot by regular people" have positive impacts on their views of news media.


Retail News

Target, Kroger Considering a Merger
Fast Company: "Target and Kroger are discussing a possible merger, several people with knowledge of the matter tell Fast Company... The companies started conversations last summer about a partnership that could improve Target’s grocery business and give Kroger customers more access to merchandise and e-commerce. Target and Kroger spoke again in the fall and talks are ongoing this year. The companies appear to be struggling to decide whether a merger is the best path forward. Last year, their combined annual revenue totaled $195B. Kroger declined to comment for this story. Target did not respond to requests for comment. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods--a deal valued at $13.7B-–last year forced grocers and retailers alike to come to terms with the holes in their businesses... Many grocers--including Kroger, Albertson’s, Publix, and Giant and Stop & Shop owner Ahold Delhaize–struck deals with Instacart to give their supermarkets a digital presence and provide on-demand delivery to their customers. Albertson’s also purchased meal-kit purveyor Plated. Walmart has pushed further into the grocery space. The company already commands the largest share of the nearly $800B U.S. grocery market... In 2017, Walmart teamed with Google Home to offer voice-activated home shopping [and] this year, Walmart will make its grocery delivery service available to 40% of U.S. households. It is also building out a millennial-focused grocery brand on In 2017, Walmart raked in $485.9B in revenue. Amazon has already started selling Whole Foods products on its flagship site, testing on-demand delivery of those groceries, and offering rewards to Prime credit card holders. Meanwhile, Kroger’s stock price has suffered in recent months and analysts are concerned about its failure to make crucial investments in its online sales division. Earlier this year, Kroger discussed acquiring wholesale e-commerce brand Boxed, which would have given Kroger both delivery infrastructure and entry into merchandise sales. But Kroger offered less than Boxed’s valuation and the potential deal dissolved... Kroger also slept on an acquisition of Shipt, an on-demand grocery delivery service, which has since been purchased by Target for $550M. The Shipt acquisition is one of many reasons a tie-up between the country’s second largest grocery retailer and Target makes sense, believes digital supply chain consultant Brittain Ladd. Target has a growing e-commerce business. While digital sales are only 8% of the company’s overall business, online sales grew 29% in Q4 2017... A merger between would not only give Kroger the infrastructure it needs to compete in a digital grocery landscape; it would expand the market opportunity for both companies. One of the reasons Walmart is so successful is because it sells both general merchandise and grocery. While Target does have a grocery business (it brought on Kroger exec Jeff Burt last year to lead it), Kroger’s is much greater in quality and scope. 'Target customers would have access–-in Target stores and out of Target stores-–to best-in-class grocery,' says Ladd, a vocal proponent of a deal between the two. In a recent article, Ladd noted that changing tastes are driving consumers to all-in-one shops like Walmart, Target and Amazon. In 2017, food and beverage represented 20% of Target’s sales-–with most business coming from home goods. Ladd argues that Target should either acquire Kroger or merge with it to make its grocery offering equal its merchandise. If Kroger and Target were to merge he says, Target could offer its customers rewards for shopping at Kroger. Such a deal would also give Target some room to reconsider how it executes grocery in its stores, imagines Ladd, or even design an entirely new concept store with Kroger. Alternatively, he speculates, Kroger could buy Target’s grocery business and revamp the in-store experience (much like CVS did with Target’s pharmacy business)."

Amazon Grows Suppliers' Burdens as Shipping Costs Rise
PG: "Amazon is charging certain suppliers more in transportation fees while planning to make it harder for shoppers to purchase certain less-profitable products online, in an effort to offset rising shipping costs, Bloomberg has reported, citing sources close to the matter.Amazon is raising transportation fees for its suppliers of beverages, diapers and other expensive-to-ship products to offload rising shipping costs. Additionally, it’s planning to increase the number of less-expensive items that ship only via larger purchases--to include most products under $7--making them more difficult for shoppers to purchase via the site. Amazon already does this with certain products, which it calls “add-ons,” such as toilet paper or baby wash.While it typically has subtracted the cost to move inventory through distribution from what it pays for bulk orders from its supplier partners, Amazon now plans to 'significantly increase' deductions. The company has been willing to take a hit in the millions to ensure that products are in stock as it fights retail giants such as Walmart. However, the model is becoming unsustainable as the company sells more household products. This isn’t the first time in recent history that Amazon has forced suppliers to foot the bill to offset costs. In Whole Foods stores, which it acquired last August, the company is placing limits on how products are sold in stores and asking suppliers to help foot the charges, upsetting smaller brands, which often saw the Austin, Texas-based grocer as their advocate. This is part of an effort to lower prices at the stores, which customers traditionally have criticized for their costly goods."

Blackwells Launches Proxy Fight With Supervalu
SN: "Investment firm Blackwells Capital has launched a proxy battle with Supervalu, and is stepping up its months-long push for the wholesaler to spin off its retail operations and sell itself, among other initiatives. New York-based Blackwells said it would nominate six independent directors to Supervalu’s board, including veteran supermarket executives Rick Anicetti, the longtime president/CEO of Food Lion who later held those titles at The Fresh Market, and Frank Lazaran, who previously had been chairman/CEO of Marsh Supermarkets and president/CEO of Winn-Dixie. 'We continue to believe substantial value exists in Supervalu’s assets, people and business relationships,' said Jason Aintabi, managing partner at Blackwells Capital. 'But the time has long passed for incrementalism. To unlock value for shareholders, the company must change fundamentally, and change must begin at the board level'... The 'incrementalism' is a reference to Supervalu’s recent sale of 21 of its 38 Farm Fresh stores in the Virginia Beach area, according to the Wall Street Journal. The sale was part of an ongoing effort at Supervalu to restructure its operations to focus on its wholesale business and divest its weaker retail assets in wake of its 2016 sale of the Save-A-Lot division. Blackwells, which said it owns a 4.9% stake in Supervalu, said all of the directors nominated would be independent and are not affiliated with Blackwells. The investment firm...said it has detailed several specific opportunities for Supervalu to increase shareholder value, including: A sale-leaseback of Supervalu’s wholesale distribution center real estate to reduce net leverage and significantly boost share price; a sale or spinoff of the retail segment to transform Supervalu into a pure-play wholesaler; and a sale or merger of Supervalu’s wholesale business to or with a competitor. In a letter to Supervalu’s board in February, Blackwells said it has been disappointed in what it described as slow progress toward change at Supervalu... 'We conclude that the board’s passivity and the company’s persistent underperformance have left us with no alternative but to run an election contest and give all shareholders an opportunity to vote for enhanced board leadership and support a mandate to explore all alternatives to unlock value.' Blackwells noted that Supervalu’s share prices had declined by more than 45% in the past year, vs. a 19.6% gain for the S&P 500. Supervalu’s shares were trading at about $14.83 Thursday afternoon, compared with a 52-week high of $31.29. Blackwells had initially proposed nominating three directors to Supervalu’s board, but on Thursday unveiled a slate of six new director nominees. In addition to Anicetti and Lazaran, the directors proposed are Steven H. Baer, a financial executive with turnaround experience; Robert “Chris” Kreidler, a former CFO at Supervalu rival C&S Wholesale Grocers, where Supervalu CEO Mark Gross also worked; James J. Martell, a former executive with several logistics companies; and Sandra E. Taylor, a former SVP at Starbucks Corp.
Supervalu issued an extensive response...noting that Blackwells 'effectively seeks control of the company' by nominating six directors out of a total of nine on the board. Blackwells 'clearly seeks representation that is highly disproportionate to Blackwells’ stake,' which is about 2% of Supervalu shares excluding out-of-the-money options, according to Supervalu. Supervalu said it has already been pursuing strategies to delivery value for shareholders, including growing the wholesale business to nearly $13B, or about 75% of the company’s annual sales, and mulling over the disposition of some retail assets, which resulted in last week’s Farm Fresh divestments. 'Our board and management team have been strong stewards of the company’s capital and assets,' Supervalu said in a statement issued by its board. Supervalu said it has met with representatives of Blackwells several times to 'discuss overlapping objectives and attempt to reach a constructive path forward,' but 'Blackwells has chosen to respond with a public campaign and an attempt to take effective control of the company.' Supervalu also said it is 'committed to board refreshment” and would consider Blackwells’ candidates. The company has not yet filed definitive proxy materials or set a date for its annual meeting."

Walmart Partnering to Sell Cars Via CarSaver Kiosks
Adweek: "Pharmacies, eye doctors, hair and nail salons and/or fast food joints in roughly 250 Walmart locations are getting a new neighbor as digital automotive marketplace CarSaver expands a car-buying program with the retail giant and moves in its kiosks. In an email, a Walmart rep said locations will open in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Virginia in the near term, as well as on a microsite on According to a release, CarSaver uses its car dealer network--which also includes banks and insurance companies--to provide a better customer experience, including upfront pricing. Once a buyer finds what they want, they’re connected with a so-called express manager to test-drive or pick up the car at a local dealership, which is within a 15-to-20-minute driving distance from a Walmart supercenter, a rep explained in an email.Automotive News reported the partnership began in April 2017 in four markets—Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Oklahoma City--after a pilot in Stuart, Florida a year prior; it aims to sell 1,000 new and used vehicles a year per Walmart location. When asked to verify details in the story, the Walmart rep said, 'No, I would not use that article.' However, CarSaver CEO Sean Wolfington shared the text of story on his blog, which also included these details... Automotive News also reported that upon making a sale, the dealership pays CarSaver a fee of $350 in most states. A CarSaver website claims the partnership will help dealers sell more cars by reaching Walmart’s 250M customers and 1.7M employees. Walmart, however, specified it has 140M customers per week.“We’re constantly looking for innovative services that help us save busy families money and time,” Daniel Eckert, SVP of Walmart Services and Digital Acceleration, said. 'CarSaver’s unique platform helps our customers understand the true cost of ownership, while also helping them save money with buying, financing, leasing and insuring a new or used vehicle.' The release said CarSaver will also help customers sell their cars by providing a cash offer from a network of dealers who place bids, as well as a vehicle purchase program for Walmart employees. Meanwhile, while it still doesn’t sell cars, Amazon has its own car research destination and automotive community: Amazon Vehicles, which launched in August 2016 to help customers find information when shopping for vehicles, parts and accessories. The feature includes specifications, images, videos and customer reviews. A release called it an extension of the Amazon Automotive store, which allows customers to add information about their cars to the Amazon Garage for shopping parts and accessories for that vehicle. August 2016 is also when Amazon partnered with Hyundai for an on-demand vehicle test drive program, Prime Now. Drive Now. Coincidentally, in a recent Think With Google post, Google said digital and mobile technologies have transformed the relationship between drivers and dealerships. 'People can do practically everything online that they’d do at a dealership—including comparing models and scheduling service—which has led them to expect a fast, friction-free experience both before and after the sale,' the search engine said in the post"...

Whole Foods Seeks Larger Stores to Serve as DCs
MNB cites a Bloomberg report that "Amazon-owned Whole Foods is looking to open larger stores as it expands, with the desire to use the extra space as small distribution centers that can help it fulfill orders placed on Amazon’s site. In addition, the story says, “Whole Foods is … working with Regency Centers Corp., one of its largest landlords, on a project to convert parking areas at existing stores into stalls for Amazon delivery contractors to load up their orders.' According to the story, 'Amazon’s investment in physical retail is partly designed to lift the online shopping business. The company began rolling out two-hour delivery of groceries from Whole Foods stores in the U.S. last month. It currently maintains separate warehouses for orders of non-grocery items. Combining them could help Amazon cut costs and deliver goods more quickly. The plan would more deeply integrate the business Amazon acquired last year for $13.7B.'"

Rewards Programs Getting Revamps
eMarketer: "he concept of loyalty and rewards is shifting, despite supermarkets still scanning key fob cards and the ubiquity of credit cards that earn points. Retailers like Amazon have popularized the 'pay to get perks concept.' It might have been hard to imagine a decade ago that consumers would pay $99 up front for a year’s worth of “free” shipping. But consumers--especially younger ones--are amenable to fee-based rewards. According to a January 2018 Bond Brand Loyalty survey of U.S. internet users worldwide, 37% of respondents were willing to pay a fee for more benefits. And younger customers were more open to this value exchange than their older counterparts. Close to half of Gen Z (47%) and millennials (46%) said they would pay more for enhanced benefits. Boomers (23%) and seniors (16%) were far less interested. Gen X predictably bridged the youngest and oldest segments, with 37% saying they would pay more. Younger U.S. internet users are more avid members of rewards programs like Amazon Prime and Sephora’s Beauty Insider, according to "The eMarketer Ecommerce Insights Report," conducted by Bizrate Insights in March 2018. Overall, 31.3% of respondents had bought a product through a rewards program in the past month, but this figure swelled to nearly half (47.1%) for those ages 18 to 29. Usage dipped to 39.0% for respondents ages 30 to 39, and slipped to 35.3% for 40- to 49-year-olds. The rate slumped to around 25% for those 50 and older. When it comes to loyalty programs, a one-size-fits-all strategy is not the answer. Some retailers go the tiered route. For example, Sephora has a free Beauty Insider program that gets members a free birthday gift and access to periodic sales. Shoppers that spend $350 per year jump to Very Important Beauty Insider (VIB) status with more perks. And big spenders (those who spend a minimum of $1,000 annually) become Rouge members and get monthly gifts, bigger discounts on sales and other freebies. Others go down a different route, like a flat-rate one similar to Restoration Hardware... Target is one of the latest retailers to shake up its loyalty program. This week, the company announced a new pilot program that’s going to be tested next month called Target Red. Unlike the current REDcard credit card, this program is free. Members will get a 1% credit on purchases that will be used on future purchases and receive half off Target’s new $99 same-day delivery membership powered by Shipt, a recent acquisition."

Clich Here

Men More Likely to Shop In-Store, Pay Full Price
eMarketer: "New data from First Insight found that men (42%) are more likely to shop in-store and pay full price than women (31%). Being able to see, touch and feel the product was the leading reason that drove men to shop in a physical store, cited by 44% of respondents. But to be fair, this was also the top factor for women (33%)--and is likely a #1 answer universally--but to a lesser degree. Meanwhile, instant gratification influenced women's in-store shopping. 27% of female respondents said the ability to take products home immediately motivated them to visit a brick-and-mortar store. 19% of men shared that sentiment. The survey also found women are more price-sensitive. About two-thirds of women surveyed said they check Amazon for products and prices before making a purchase, vs. 54% of men. Roughly three in 10 women surveyed said they frequently use their mobile devices to compare prices while in a physical store, while only 21% of men did the same. And women are also more likely to shop at discount retailers like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods. No conclusions were drawn as to why women were more frugal, used digital tools to compare prices and shopped at discount retailers more than their male counterparts"...


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