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Inflation clouds Black Friday sales in US shopping season




US retailers unveiled a trove of fresh promotions on Friday, as they try to coax sales from reticent shoppers whose holiday cheer has been tempered by inflation and worries over a softening economy.

Cautious shoppers have hunted for the best deals at stores and online as retailers offered new Black Friday discounts to entice consumers eager to start buying holiday gifts but weighed down by inflation.

Due to elevated prices for food, rent, gasoline and other essentials, many people were more selective and reluctant to spend unless there was a big sale on Friday.

Some were dipping more into savings, turning to “buy now, pay later” services that allow payment in instalment, or running up their credit cards at a time when the Federal Reserve is hiking rates to cool the US economy.

This year’s trends are a contrast from a year ago when consumers were buying early for fear of not getting what they needed amid supply-network clogs.

Stores didn’t have to discount much because they were struggling to bring in items.

Online discount rates were 31 percent on Thanksgiving, up 7 percent from the previous year, according to Salesforce data.

Shoppers wait to enter the Nike store at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville, Tennessee. (AFP)

High customer traffic

Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan, where discounts included 60 percent off fashion jewelry and 50 percent off select shoes, was bustling with shoppers early on Friday.

The traffic was “significantly larger” on Black Friday compared to the previous two years because shoppers feel more comfortable in crowds, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said.

Customer traffic was also higher than last year at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, according to Jill Renslow, executive vice president of business development of the shopping centre.

She said 10,000 people were at the sprawling mall during the first hour after the 7 am opening, though inflation prompted many shoppers to figure out what to buy before showing up.

Major retailers, including Walmart and Target, stuck with their pandemic-era decision to close stores on Thanksgiving Day, moving away from doorbusters and pushing discounts on their websites.

Shoppers walk the aisles of Walmart for Black Friday deals in Dunwoody, Georgia. (AFP)

Spike in online sales

Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce, said Salesforce data showed online sales spiked in the evening during the holiday this year, suggesting people went from feasting to phone shopping.

Shoppers spent $5.3 billion online on Thanksgiving Day, up 2.9 percent from the holiday last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which monitors spending across websites. Adobe expects that online buying on Black Friday will hit $9 billion, up just 1 percent from a year ago.

Black Friday saw some of the labour unrest that has rippled through the retail industry over the past year.

A coalition of trade unions and advocacy organisations are coordinating strikes and walkouts at Amazon facilities in more than 30 countries under a campaign called “Make Amazon Pay.”

READ MORE: Amazon: Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 biggest online sales ever

Fears of mass shootings

At Walmart stores, some employees had Wednesday’s deadly shooting at a company store in Virginia in the back of their minds.

Jude Anani, a 35-year-old who works at a Walmart store in Columbia, Maryland, said the company offers training on how to react in such circumstances, but he would like to see more protection.

He was happy to see police officer standing outside the store, as is typical on Black Friday, and wished that was the case “most of the time during the year.”

Analysts consider the five-day Black Friday weekend, which includes Cyber Monday, a key barometer of shoppers’ willingness to spend.

The two-month period between Thanksgiving and Christmas represents about 20 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales.

Source: TRT

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Boskalis won the second phase of Gulhifalhu Reclamation Project






Royal Boskalis Westminster has been hired by the Ministry of National Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure to carry out the second phase of the Gulhifalhu Reclamation Project.

Boskalis has been hired to dredge and reclaim 18 million cubic meters of sand, as well as install stone revetment around the dredged region, at a cost of USD120 million in the project’s second phase. However, neither the government nor the firm have said how much land would be dredged as part of the project.

Boskalis, located in the Netherlands, announced that it has begun the project’s survey and has done environmental assessments. According to the corporation, the project will be completed in an ecologically sustainable manner. As a result, the firm stated that it will also monitor the movement of coral in the region’s lagoon on a regular basis, prevent the spread of salt pollution, and monitor changes in the quality of the sea salt in the area.

Gulhifalhu is roughly 4 kilometers from Male’ City. The first phase of lagoon dredging began in 2010, with the goal of populating the region and reducing congestion in Male’. However, the previous administration halted the project in 2013.

The present administration has redrafted the Gulhifalhu development plan. Furthermore, the expansion of the international port at Gulhifalhu is projected to alleviate the problems caused by a shortage of space in Male’ Commercial Harbour.

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SSNET begins nationwide cable TV service





SS Network (SSNET) has begun providing cable TV service to over 90 islands across Maldives, less than two months after the company received its rebroadcasting license.

SSNET received its rebroadcasting license on December 1, 2022; a license which authorizes the company to provide nationwide cable TV service.

SSNET’s Chief Operating Officer Mohamed Asif (Mondhu) said SSNET is providing its service through Dhiraagu’s modern IPTV and OTT network.

Thousands of DhiraaguTV’s customers have switched to SSNET, and are now enjoying its cable TV service.

“The opportunity remains open for customers who had been using DhiraaguTV to register to SSNET with ease,” said Mondhu.

Customers who had used DhiraaguTV do not need to pay an additional fee to make the switch, and can continue to use their set-top box.

Mondhu said that the company is ironing out minor issues with the launch of the new service, which he assured will be resolved within two days.

Dhiraagu’s CEO and Managing Director Ismail Rasheed and SSNET’s Managing Director Zuleykha Manik (Zuley) had signed the agreement which allows SSNET to provide nationwide cable TV coverage using Dhiraagu’s IPTV and OTT network on December 23, 2022.

Mondhu said the launch of SSNET’s service will revolutionize the local cable TV sector, and bring great changes in terms of content.

He said that SSNET aims to provide customers an unparalleled entertainment experience and to “make them smile”.

“We aim to provide them with a happy escape from all the mental distress. SSNET will help build this nation,” he said.


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All Bussinesses in main sectors make improvements in 2022






According to the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), firms in all main industries rose in the fourth quarter of 2022.

According to the latest Quarterly Business Study, firms in all sectors in the survey indicated increased activity, with the tourism sector rising the most due to a rise in visitor arrivals to the Maldives and an increase in income generated by the industry.

The increase in travelers in the fourth quarter of last year was due to the peak tourism season, according to the authorities, and will continue into the first quarter of 2023, bolstering the economy’s primary industries. The pace of improvement, however, is likely to decrease during the first quarter of the year.

Furthermore, MMA noted that the construction industry has grown at a slower rate than in previous quarters. The industry, on the other hand, is predicted to rise substantially in the first quarter of this year. Furthermore, the wholesale and retail trade sectors grew the greatest in the fourth quarter of last year.

Meanwhile, according to the research, the transportation and communications business increased at a slower rate than in the third quarter of 2022. According to the poll, job prospects in all of these industries rose in the fourth quarter of last year, and company financial positions improved significantly.

MMA conducts the Quarterly Company Survey in order to acquire a fast evaluation of current business trends and predicted future economic activity.

Respondents to the business survey include senior managers or top executives from companies in the tourist, construction, wholesale, retail, transportation, and communication industries.

The questions address the senior management’s perspectives on the direction of change in several business indicators such as sales, production, pricing, capacity utilization, and employment, which are essential for analyzing and forecasting economic activity.

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