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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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IASL is seeks A contractor to refurbish the Maafaru airport terminal






Island Aviation Services Limited (IASL) is looking for a contractor to refurbish the Maafaru International Airport terminal. IASL has asked interested Maldivian enterprises to submit proposals by February 12.

According to General Manager Mumthaz Ali, the goal of the terminal upgrade is to expand the airport’s capacity, add additional Maldives Immigration counters, and develop commercial and VVIP lounges.
He stated that the terminal will be a two-story structure, with the first level housing the VVIP lounge and the second housing the commercial lounge and offices.

Furthermore, the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) is planning to rebuild and enlarge the runway at Maafaru International Airport. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has provided a USD27 million grant to the project (ADFD). The expansion of the runway and terminal is projected to greatly boost the airport’s capacity.

The renovation and extension are part of Maafaru International Airport’s second phase of development. MTCC is in charge of extending the runway by 650 meters, enlarging the strip, recovering land, and constructing coastline protection buildings. Other activities include improving the runway pavement, enlarging the taxiway, and modernizing the AGL and power systems.

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State reserve at USD 827.7M by end of last year, a significant improvement





Statistics publicized Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) show that the state reserve stood at USD 827.7 million at the end of last year.

The ‘Economic Update’ publicized by MMA on Thursday showed that the gross international reserve, or in other words, the foreign currency reserve of the central bank, increased to USD 827.7 million by the end of last December.

This marks a three percent increase compared to the previous year. At the end of 2021, the state reserve stood at USD 805.8 million.

The reserve significantly improved in December 2022 compared to November 2022 with an addition of USD 223.5 million – marking a 37 percent increase. At the end of November 2022, the reserve stood at USD 604.2 million.

Tourism sector performed significantly well in the last quarter of last year. Statistics by Tourism Ministry showed that Maldives recorded 184,051 tourist arrivals in December alone, marking a 12 percent increase compared to December 2021.

As per MMA, the number of fisheries exports from the Maldives also significantly increased during December 2022. The central bank said that number of total exports had also significantly increased last year.

Economic experts cite the increased tourist arrivals to the Maldives and increased exports from the Maldives as a positive impact on the Maldivian economy.

While statistics from MMA shows Maldivian economy making steady improvements – Finance Ministry had recently announced measures to cut down state expenditure which is currently in force.


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OPEC+ committee recommends staying course on oil output policy





VIENNA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) — Leading oil officials on Wednesday recommended to maintain the current oil output policy of OPEC+, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, amid an uncertain global economic outlook.

The OPEC+ agreed in October 2022 to cut production by 2 million barrels per day from the following month until the end of 2023. The cut equals to about 2 percent of the annual global oil demand.

Members of the OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) “reaffirmed their commitment” to the current output plan at a virtual meeting on Wednesday and “urged all participating countries to achieve full conformity and adhere to the compensation mechanism,” according to an OPEC statement.

The JMMC comprises oil ministers from the OPEC+ countries. It has no decision-making power but provides policy recommendations for the OPEC+ ministerial meeting, the group’s decision-making body. It has also the authority to request additional OPEC+ ministerial meetings “at any time to address market developments,” according to OPEC.

The JMMC has reviewed the oil production data for November and December last year and “noted the overall conformity” for the OPEC+ countries, OPEC added.

The next JMMC meeting is scheduled for April 3. The next OPEC+ ministerial meeting, where the group will formally decide its output policy, is set for June 4.

Source(s): Xinhua

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