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Inflation clouds Black Friday sales in US shopping season

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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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CWEIC office to establish in Maldives, Janah as Chair

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Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) has announced decision to establish its office in the Maldives, and appoint President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s Principal Advisor Mohamed Ali Janah as its Country Chair.

CWEIC in a statement on Thursday, said the office will be established to connect the Maldives government with international investors and businesses.

The Maldives hub office of CWEIC will play a vital role in seeking prospective investment opportunities from all 56-member nations of the Commonwealth. The office will also enhance strategic alliances and partnerships between these countries and the Maldivian government.

Veteran entrepreneur, Janah boasts of over 30 years of business relations with the Middle East.

Source(s): sun.mv

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Dubai company awarded the development of SEZ

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An agreement has been signed by the Maldivian administration with UAE’s International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) to develop Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the Maldives.

The agreement, officially co-signed by Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed and IFZA Chairman Martin Gregers Pedersen during a special ceremony, marks a significant milestone in economic development.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Saeed emphasized the timeline for finalizing the agreement, committing to reach a consensus within the next four months. As part of the agreement, Fonadhoo in Kaafu Atoll will be transformed into a financial hub, featuring a new financial center and a bridge connecting Male’ and Hulhule. IFZA will bear the expenses for these developments.

The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade further highlighted plans for the Economic Gateway project in Ihavandhippolhu, aiming to attract investors with IFZA’s expertise. Addressing the attendees, Chairman Pedersen expressed confidence in the success of the project, underscoring collaborations with investors to further enhance opportunities in the Maldives.

The development of SEZs remarkably aligns with the President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s vision to diversify the economy and stimulate financial growth. The Maldivian administration is optimistic about attracting future investments and positioning the country as a desirable destination for business opportunities.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Over USD 713M generated attributing to revenue increasing by 3.7%

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Ministry of Finance has revealed a remarkable surge in the government’s revenue generated as of April 25, which exceeds USD713 million. The latest weekly fiscal report publicised by the ministry indicates that this contributes to a 3.7% increase in revenue in comparison to the revenue of USD693 million, generated within the same period, in 2023.

The fiscal report shows that the revenue comprises USD 596 million in tax revenue, USD116 million in non-tax revenue, and USD3 million in aid received. Tax earnings include import duty, business and property tax (BPT), goods and services tax (GST), as well as earnings from GST. The breakdown of revenue generation includes USD45 million from import duties, USD168 million from BPT, USD330 million from GST, USD24 million from green tax, USD22.6 million from airport service charges, and departure tax.

Expenditures until April 25 totalled USD817 million, with USD629 million allocated to recurrent expenses and USD181 million to capital expenditures. This represents a significant reduction in expenditures compared to the USD244 million spent by the government in 2023, during the corresponding timeframe. Recurrent expenses cover USD207 million for salaries and allowances and USD408 million for administrative work. Meanwhile, capital expenditure primarily encompasses expenses related to structural development.

Source(s): PsmNews

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