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Will consumer demand outstrip supply in the U.S. running up to Christmas?

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In this week’s Business Line, we look at how consumers in the U.S. may not get much in the way of promotions and discounts as demand is set to outsrip supply in the retail sector.

We also report on Taiwan’s hope for an economic recovery in its final quarter of 2020, as its main export markets in Europe and the U.S. celebrate Christmas.

Also in this episode, brought to you from Dubai, we look at an annual report entitled: The State of the Global Islamic Economy, where there is cause for cautious optimism.

U.S. CONSUMER SPENDING

Retail sales in the U.S. grew by a sluggish 0.3% in October. A surge in nationwide coronavirus infections and the expiration of a 500-euro weekly boost to unemployment cheques has put the brakes on spending and contributed to the slowest retail sales growth in the country since the spring.

Debbie McIndoe is a resident in New York, and shared her concern:

“I definitely have a problem with shopping because the money is low, you know, everybody is in the house and nobody’s getting jobs right now. The economy is not so hot. Hopefully it will change,” she told us.

Money concerns combined with the very real possibility of another lockdown is completely transforming consumer habits this festive season, as Simeon Siegel, a senior retail analyst at BMO Capital Markets, explained:

“For the past 10 years, we kept hearing this mantra that people want to buy experiences, they don’t want to buy things.

“Well, in this current norm, we’re operating in, you can’t have experiences outside the house. You don’t travel. So things become your experiences.

“We’ve seen furniture, we’ve seen anything that improves your experience at home – at home fitness has gone through the roof,” he said.

And we can expect retailers to be pretty scrooge-like with discounts, as demand remains broadly high relative to stock.

“I think this is the first holiday in a long time where demand is going to outstrip supply, and what that means is don’t expect that many discounts.

“So from a consumer perspective, inventory is light. Deals are going to be light as well.

“From a stock perspective, I think we should all expect sales may disappoint, but margins and profitability are probably going to be better than we’ve seen in a while,” Simeon Siegel said.

However, many Christmas shoppers will still brave the elements and visit shops.

“And I think what we will find is for the stores that offer a compelling product and for the stores that offer products that you cannot get online, people will brave the elements.

“And in this instance, the element is obviously the weather, but it’s even more obviously the pandemic,” he added.

TAIWAN’S EXPORT ECONOMY

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Taiwan with its export-driven economy, is hoping that widespread lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe won’t have a domino effect on its economy in Q4.

Taiwan has a population of almost 24 million, had less than 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and seven deaths as of the end of November.

However, the island has an export orientated economy highly dependent upon demand from the West.

That hasn’t hindered optimism for an economic rebound in the final quarter of 2020, as Venson Tsai, a financial analyst for Cathay Pacific Group, explained:

“Speaking of the situation right now, the most important thing is that the pandemic is still slowly gaining ground in Europe and America. Some cities are locked down in Europe, and their economic growth has slowed down a little. But this is not likely to recede, and America, as long as cities are not locked down, it will be blessed with the shopping peak season of Q4. In this case, Taiwan’s year end exports can still reach a high. So if we look at Taiwan’s economy, it is still on its path to recovery.”

But many local businesses which depend on tourism and domestic sales have not had much reason to share this optimism, as shop owner, Chen, explained:

“Business fell around 50 per cent to 60 per cent. There are no tourists coming around, this seriously affects the business here. Our district has suffered greatly. Old shops in the neighbourhood have closed down.”

The prevailing hope is that 2021 will bring with it a successful COVID-19 vaccine and a return to business as close to as usual as possible.

GLOBAL ISLAMIC ECONOMY

Consumer spending across the Islamic economy totalled over 1.85 trillion euros in 2019.

That’s according to a report on the state of the Global Islamic Economy.

Following its publication, I met with the CEO of the Dubai Islamic Economy development centre, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, to review the findings.

In this week’s Business Line, we look at how consumers in the U.S. may not get much in the way of promotions and discounts as demand is set to outsrip supply in the retail sector.

We also report on Taiwan’s hope for an economic recovery in its final quarter of 2020, as its main export markets in Europe and the U.S. celebrate Christmas.

U.S. CONSUMER SPENDING

Retail sales in the U.S. grew by a sluggish 0.3% in October. A surge in nationwide coronavirus infections and the expiration of a 500-euro weekly boost to unemployment cheques has put the brakes on spending and contributed to the slowest retail sales growth in the country since the spring.

Debbie McIndoe is a resident in New York, and shared her concern:

“I definitely have a problem with shopping because the money is low, you know, everybody is in the house and nobody’s getting jobs right now. The economy is not so hot. Hopefully it will change,” she told us.

Money concerns combined with the very real possibility of another lockdown is completely transforming consumer habits this festive season, as Simeon Siegel, a senior retail analyst at BMO Capital Markets, explained:

“For the past 10 years, we kept hearing this mantra that people want to buy experiences, they don’t want to buy things.

“Well, in this current norm, we’re operating in, you can’t have experiences outside the house. You don’t travel. So things become your experiences.

“We’ve seen furniture, we’ve seen anything that improves your experience at home – at home fitness has gone through the roof,” he said.

And we can expect retailers to be pretty scrooge-like with discounts, as demand remains broadly high relative to stock.

“I think this is the first holiday in a long time where demand is going to outstrip supply, and what that means is don’t expect that many discounts.

“So from a consumer perspective, inventory is light. Deals are going to be light as well.

“From a stock perspective, I think we should all expect sales may disappoint, but margins and profitability are probably going to be better than we’ve seen in a while,” Simeon Siegel said.

However, many Christmas shoppers will still brave the elements and visit shops.

“And I think what we will find is for the stores that offer a compelling product and for the stores that offer products that you cannot get online, people will brave the elements.

“And in this instance, the element is obviously the weather, but it’s even more obviously the pandemic,” he added.

TAIWAN’S EXPORT ECONOMY

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Taiwan with its export-driven economy, is hoping that widespread lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe won’t have a domino effect on its economy in Q4.

Taiwan has a population of almost 24 million, had less than 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and seven deaths as of the end of November.

However, the island has an export orientated economy highly dependent upon demand from the West.

That hasn’t hindered optimism for an economic rebound in the final quarter of 2020, as Venson Tsai, a financial analyst for Cathay Pacific Group, explained:

“Speaking of the situation right now, the most important thing is that the pandemic is still slowly gaining ground in Europe and America. Some cities are locked down in Europe, and their economic growth has slowed down a little. But this is not likely to recede, and America, as long as cities are not locked down, it will be blessed with the shopping peak season of Q4. In this case, Taiwan’s year end exports can still reach a high. So if we look at Taiwan’s economy, it is still on its path to recovery.”

But many local businesses which depend on tourism and domestic sales have not had much reason to share this optimism, as shop owner, Chen, explained:

“Business fell around 50 per cent to 60 per cent. There are no tourists coming around, this seriously affects the business here. Our district has suffered greatly. Old shops in the neighbourhood have closed down.”

The prevailing hope is that 2021 will bring with it a successful COVID-19 vaccine and a return to business as close to as usual as possible.

GLOBAL ISLAMIC ECONOMY

Consumer spending across the Islamic economy totalled over 1.85 trillion euros in 2019.

That’s according to a report on the state of the Global Islamic Economy.

Following its publication, I met with the CEO of the Dubai Islamic Economy development centre, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, to review the findings.

I stared by asking him to explain what the report is – and its key findings.

“We consider it a benchmark in terms of data on the Islamic economy sector. So what this report provides is actually a resource in terms of what are the key investments in the various sectors of the Islamic economy.

“What 2019 showed us is that the consumers spend almost 2.02 trillion U.S. dollars on the real Islamic economy sectors: halal food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, family-friendly tourism, media recreation. And in terms of Islamic finance assets, that stood at 2.88 trillion US dollars.

“We are glad to see that the UAE has fared well. It’s within the top three in the global Islamic economy indicator. It leads in two of the sectors, media and recreation, as well as modest fashion,” he added.

I then asked Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar about how important the UAE’s success was in the fintech sector.

“Quite, quite tremendous, to be honest with you. The fintech industry has really taken off now even more so, you know, with what has happened in 2020. But what has been apparent, I think the whole digitalisation of the banking sector and Islamic finance sector over the last years has proven that in order to be successful in this sector, you really need to embrace fintech,” he replied.

He also talked about the surprise findings in the report.

“The halal food sector…. that makes sense because your producers today for food and your exporters are from Australia, from the U.S., South America, and some European countries are heavily ranked in terms of exports, halal food exports. It clearly signifies to me that this is a global ecosystem.

“So that indicator also provides an avenue for us to partner with other nations who place the Islamic economy as an important component in their strategies. You have Malaysia, you have the UAE, you know, you have Saudi Arabia, who have historically always been there as leading in the indicator. But Indonesia over the last two years, for example, rose very quickly as well in the rankings because the government there formulated certain strategies specifically addressing the Islamic economy sectors,” he concluded.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2020/12/01/will-consumer-demand-outstrip-supply-in-the-u-s-running-up-to-christmas

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Burkina Faso military says it has seized power

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The military in Burkina Faso says it has seized power and overthrown President Roch Kaboré.

The announcement was made on state television by an army officer, who cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover.

Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency.

His whereabouts are unclear, but the officer said that all those detained were in a secure location.

The coup comes a day after troops seized barracks, and gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Earlier, the ruling People’s Movement for Progress (PMP) party said that both Mr Kaboré and a government minister had survived an assassination attempt.

On Sunday, mutinying troops demanded the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda.

The army statement said Mr Kaboré had failed to unite the nation and to deal effectively with the security crisis which “threatens the very foundations of our nation”.

The statement was issued in the name of a group not heard of previously, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, its French acronym.

Although read out by another officer, the statement was signed by Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who is believed to be the coup leader and a senior commander with years of experience fighting the Islamist militants.

The statement said that parliament and the government had been dissolved, and the constitution suspended, but promised a “return to constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.

The military also announced the closure of Burkina Faso’s borders.

UN chief António Guterres condemned the coup and called on the military to “ensure the protection and the physical integrity” of Mr Kaboré.

The African Union and regional bloc, Ecowas, have also condemned the forceful takeover of power, with Ecowas saying it holds the soldiers responsible for the deposed president’s well-being.

Earlier, the news of his detention was received with cheers and celebrations in Ouagadougou, reports the BBC’s senior Africa correspondent Anne Soy.

Earlier video footage from the capital appeared to show armoured vehicles – reportedly used by the presidency – peppered with bullet holes and abandoned in the street.

Mobile internet services have been disrupted, though fixed-line internet and domestic wi-fi are working.

Mr Kaboré has not been seen in public since the crisis began, but two posts appeared on his Twitter account before the officer announced he had been toppled.

The later one called on those who had taken up arms to lay them down “in the higher interest of the nation”. Earlier, Mr Kaboré congratulated the national football team on their win in an Africa Cup of Nations match.

It is unclear who posted the tweets.

Some security sources say the president and other government ministers are being held at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks in the capital.

On Sunday, hundreds of people came out in support of the soldiers and some of them set fire to the ruling party’s headquarters.

The coup comes a week after 11 soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mr Kaboré.

But discontent has been growing in Burkina Faso over the government’s failure to defeat an Islamist insurgency in the country since 2015.

That escalated in November, when 53 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed by suspected jihadists. And on Saturday, a banned rally to protest against the government’s perceived failure led to dozens of arrests.

Mutinying soldiers made several demands, including: the removal of the army’s chief of staff and the head of the intelligence service; more troops to be deployed to the front line; and better conditions for the wounded and soldiers’ families.

Similar troubles in neighbouring Mali led to a military coup in May 2021 – one that was broadly welcomed by the public.

Burkina Faso is now the third West African country to witness a military takeover in recent years. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.

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India Covid: Booster shots start for priority groups as cases surge

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India has begun giving booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to priority groups amid a surge in infections.

Health and frontline workers and people above 60 years old with comorbidities are currently eligible to take the jab.

The drive began as India battles a spike in Covid cases fuelled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Early studies from other countries have suggested that a booster vaccine may provide more protection against Omicron.

The highly transmissive Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa in November.

Since then, several countries have expanded their booster programmes or shortened the gap between jabs to shore up protection against the variant.

In India, the booster shot – dubbed a “precaution dose” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi – will be the same vaccine that was given to a person for their first and second doses.

India has been mainly administering two locally-manufactured vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, since its vaccination drive began in January 2021.

On Sunday, India reported more than 179,000 new infections for the past 24 hours, driven by a steep rise in cases in big cities such as the national capital Delhi and financial centre Mumbai.

On the same day, Mr Modi chaired a review meeting with top officials, and asked for “technical support” to be provided to states reporting more cases.

The government had begun administering vaccines to 15-18-year-olds last week – it has said that 31% of Indians in this age group have been given the first dose so far.

More than 91% adults have been partially vaccinated so far, while 66% have received both doses.

But experts say that still leaves millions of unvaccinated people – many with underlying health problems that could increase the severity of the infection – at risk.

The spread of Omicron has also increased worries – India has confirmed a total of 4,003 cases of Omicron, with Maharashtra state reporting the highest (1,126), followed by Rajasthan (529) and Delhi (513).

The country has so far recorded more than 35 million Covid cases and about 483,000 deaths from the virus.

Last year, a devastating second wave overwhelmed the country’s health system, leading to a shortage in oxygen, hospital beds and critical drugs.

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Emily in Paris Fans Think Kim Cattrall Will Make an Appearance in Season 3

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instyle– Fans are speculating a major pop-culture crossover in season 3 of Emily in Paris. After Kim Cattrall infamously turned down the chance to revive her Sex and the City character, Samantha Jones, for the rebootfans couldn’t help but wonder if Jones could make an appearance in the next season of the cult-favorite Netflix show.

If you’re watching And Just Like That … (and even if you’re not), you know that Cattrall’s character is supposedly off working her public relationships magic in London, England, just a quick trip from Emily (Lily Collins) and her booming marketing firm, Savoir.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Emily in Paris Season 2

Fans noticed major parallels between the characters, from their location to their sex positivity to their career in communications. Plus, both series were created by big-time Hollywood producer Darren Star — with SATC costume designer Patricia Field now responsible for Emily’s kitschy, Parisian looks — making a collab that much more believable.

One Twitter user wrote, “Current theory: Samantha has supposedly moved overseas, hence her lack of presence in the new SATC TV series. Then she shows up by total surprise in a crossover episode of EMILY IN PARIS. I would watch Samantha try to tolerate Emily, 100 percent.”

Collins fueled the flames by teasing a possible season 3. The actress posted photographs from her Vogue Hong Kong cover featuring a jet-black shag haircut and dark makeup writing, “Season 3 pivot?? Who’s with me? …” Collins used the same caption when reposting a fan’s Tweet with the magazine images that read, “Emily in Berlin.”

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