Jonathan Bowes started his career in banking. After a few years, he took courses in business and finance and worked his way up the corporate ladder. Today, while writing part-time for Business District, Bowes assists talented people to find jobs in the field of economics. Contact Bowes at Jonathon[at]businessdistrict.com
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According to Reuters.com, the cost of gasoline has gone up considerably this August. Gas prices across the nation have hit an average of $3.86 per gallon, an all-time high for 2023. This is a 7% increase over prices that were seen just one month ago. In certain states, such as California and Washington, the cost has risen above $5.00 per gallon.
The abnormal timing of this price increase has some people perplexed. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at price tracker GasBuddy.com noted that, “We tend to see prices declining going into the fall.”
The price jump can be attributed to several refineries that are closed for maintenance. This impacts the available supply of oil. Heat waves, like those the United States has experienced this summer, also affect refinery production.
Despite the steep cost of filling the tank, gas prices are still below where they were in August of 2022. Labor Day travelers may still hope to get some relief at the pump.
In 2015, the retailer REI first announced that its stores would be closed on Black Friday. This was a dramatic message at the time, as the day after Thanksgiving is known to be the most popular shopping day of the year, with stores offering competitive sales. From then, the store continued in its path of shutting its doors on Black Friday, making the decision on a year-to-year basis. Now, however, the company has announced that every aspect of the business will be closed on Black Friday every year. This includes all 178 of its retail stores, its call centers, headquarters, and distribution locations – giving a paid vacation day to 16,000 employees.
In recent years, the excitement of Black Friday has been slowly waring off. The younger generation is less willing to wake up at the crack of dawn and wait outside on line for hours to get a good deal. Additionally, many companies have extended their “Black Friday sale” to the days leading up to Thanksgiving, or the days after – leaving less pressure to shop specifically on that Friday.
Following REI, a new trend has been noted with retailers choosing to “Opt Outside.” The movement prioritizes spending the day outdoors, creating experiences, and basically doing anything other than shopping. The CEO of REI, Eric Artz, says: “Opt Outside has always been about prioritizing the experience of our employees, choosing the benefits of time outside over a day of consumption and sales. When we first introduced this movement, it was considered revolutionary for a retail brand, but we felt it was the right thing to do for our members and employees.”
While most retailers are still open for business on Black Friday, the change in thinking is revolutionary and sure to continue shifting trends in consumerism as the years go on.
With the shining sun and Covid restrictions letting up, Americans are eagerly booking vacations and flights for the upcoming summer months. Tired of regulations and staying at home, people are excited for a newfound freedom they’ve missed. Together with the enthusiasm to travel, experts warn of increasingly hefty airfares.
According to the Associated Press, the expected number of travelers this summer is higher than in pre-pandemic times. Prices of domestic flights are selling at rates 24% higher than during this season in 2019 and 45% more than this time last year. Similarly, international flights are going for 10% more than in 2019.
So, why the drastic increase?
According to airlines, there are a few factors. First and foremost is the rise in jet fuel prices. Additionally, there are fewer flights available for booking and many travelers interested in purchasing tickets. In the words of Hayley Berg, an economist for Hopper, “We have more travelers looking to book fewer seats, and each of those seats is going to be more expensive for airlines to fly this summer because of jet fuel.” Lastly, there is a major decrease in staff numbers in comparison to before the pandemic, and this often results in canceled flights.
Bottom line: If you are eager to make up for missed time during the Covid-19 restrictions, go for it – but be prepared to pay the price!
In the wake of the meeting between US President-elect Donald Trump and Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma, an Alibaba spokesman announced the company’s plan to incorporate and additional one million small US businesses onto its e-commerce platform.
The Chinese-based internet company, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, predicts that the plan, to be implemented over the next five years, will create about one million new US jobs as each business adds at least one employee. This is not the first-time Alibaba has suggested to bring more small US businesses into their enormous marketplace, but it is the first time specific target numbers have been suggested.
The meeting between the leaders took place at Trump Tower in New York, where the president-elect lives. Trump said the meeting was “great” and added that they would do “great things” together. Ma said Trump was “smart” and “open-minded.”
Ma said the focus of the meeting was to discuss the best ways to support small businesses, especially in Midwest America. The idea would be to introduce the products from farmers and small clothing-manufacturers to the vast Chinese market directly through Alibaba.
Alibaba has been aggressively pursuing foreign brands to set up Tsmall stores, their online platform which offers virtual store fronts and payment portals to merchants. His goal is to simplify the sales, payment and shipping process for the vast and growing Chinese shopper which Ma is relentlessly attracting to his e-commerce website.
Right now, there are about 7,000 US brands sitting on Alibaba’s Tmall, including US giants such as wholesaler Costco Wholesale Corp and clothing manufacturer Levi’s. Last year these companies made $15 billion in sales to Chinese consumers, although some foreign retailers say they have had a mixed success on Tmall.
Last month the US Trade Representative put Alibaba back on to an infamous list of blacklisted online retailers due to suspicions that the company does not do enough to end counterfeiting on their site.
A survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics showed that Hillary Clinton is the preferred candidate for president of the US by 55 percent to an embarrassing 14 percent for Donald Trump. As a matter of fact, Trump was not the second choice. Third party Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson had more support than Trump, with 15 percent saying they would prefer to see him as president. An additional 15 percent said they did not know or had no opinion.
The survey was conducted from July 20 to August 2 and included the views of 414 members of NABE.
Some of Trump’s policies seem to be contributing to his lack of support. Whereas Trump says he would like to nullify or severely restrict the North American Free Trade Agreement, 65 percent of business economists say US trade policy should be even more open and free versus only 9 percent who agree with Trump that trade should be more protectionist.
Trump has expressed a desire to deport illegal immigrants, but the NABE survey showed that only 8 percent agreed with that sentiment, while 64 percent said they would like to see a program to legalize undocumented immigrants who already live in the US.