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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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Econ Minister assures food supply without interruption





Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed, has assured Maldives will receive essential food item supplies without interruptions.

Speaking at a recent rally at Shaviyani atoll Milandhoo, the minister said a shipment of flour from Turkey has been dispatched already, and added that the government has already arranged for uninterrupted supply of essential food items throughout the year.

He added that President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has arranged for a total quantity to last one entire year with an additional 10% of essential food rations from Turkey.

According to minister Saeed, under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Turkish government, Maldives will now have ease of importation of 35 different types of commodities from the Middle-Eastern ally.

The minister further announced government’s strategies to maintain prices of staple and other essential foods with the assistance of State Trading Organization (STO). He said that a working committee has already been formed comprising of the ministry and STO’s officials, who are working with the oversight of the President’s Office.

Additionally, the minister said a Maldivian trade delegations will be flying to the UK on May 15, 2023 and to Washington, US, on July 10, 2024, to seek advise and support on shaping up the public finance sector of the Maldives for long-term efficiency.


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SDFC expands funding assistance for reef fishers, related SMEs





The SME Development Finance Corporation (SDFC) has added new categories to the ‘Kandufalhuge Nafaa’ loan facility; specifically “targeted toward supporting the growth and development of reef fisheries”.

SDFC will issue up to a maximum of MVR 700,000 in funding towards the development of reef fisheries; by way of financing either local fishers or small-to-medium (SMEs) enterprises operating in reef fishing activities.

The loan facility is subject to an interest rate of 5% with a six-month grace period, and a 10-year repayment period.

SDFC further highlights that all the vessels financed under the loan would be held as collateral or mortgage.

Expenses exceeding the maximum MVR 700,000 ceiling of the loan facility should be incurred by the debtor, added SDFC.

The facility is specifically targeted for reef fishers, suppliers of reef fish; either processed, packed or frozen to be sold at industrial capacity, exporters, and local suppliers from the atolls.

SDFC further highlighted that the facility is aimed at boosting specific activities of any individual or SME operating in reef fisheries sector, and they include;

  • To develop a new vessel or repair existing vessel used in reef fisheries activities
  • Installation of engines in vessels used for reef fishing
  • Procurement/purchase of equipment used in navigating or commandeering the vessel
  • For repairs and modifications of a vessel used in reef fishing
  • Procurement/purchase of fish processing machinery and equipment
  • Procurement/purchase of packing materials and equipment


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Maldivian lowers surfboard transport fees as pledged by President





Island Aviation Services Limited (IASL) has announced the fee reduction for transporting surfboards via the national airline, Maldivian, as pledged by President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.

As such, the national airline has announced reduced fees for surfboard transportation. Charges for larger surfboards were decreased by 33%, while smaller ones saw a reduction of 66%, marking a tangible step towards supporting local businesses and promoting tourism.

President Dr. Muizzu responded to concerns raised by Surfing Operator Ahmed Rasheed from Gadhdhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, during the “Raees ge Javaab” series, where citizens directly engage with the President on various issues.

During the session, Rasheed highlighted the steep fees imposed by the national airline for transporting surfboards, stressing the impact on local businesses in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. Acknowledging the significance of the issue, Dr. Muizzu committed to reducing the fees, recognising their adverse effects on surf-related enterprises and the tourism sector. Stressing surfing’s vital role in the Maldives’ economy, particularly in Gadhdhoo, the President swiftly acted to fulfill his pledge.

Source(s): PsmNews

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