All posts by Jonathon Bowes

About Jonathon Bowes

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]

Grill Sales Cool as Americans Approach July 4th

As Americans approach July 4th, the grill market is experiencing a cooling trend following the pandemic-era buying surge. Market leaders like Traeger have reported significant declines in sales, with the company’s latest quarter grill sales dropping to $76.8 million from $156.1 million in Q2 2021.

Major retailers, including Home Depot, have noted a drop in the purchase of big-ticket outdoor items, including grills. Local stores are also feeling the impact.

The slowdown is attributed to several factors, including inflated meat prices, high interest rates, and economic uncertainty. Many consumers who purchased grills during the pandemic lockdowns see no need to upgrade their relatively recent acquisitions.

Despite the sales slump, grill ownership remains high. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association reports that 80% of U.S. homeowners owned a grill or smoker in 2023, up from 64% in 2019.

Retailers are employing various strategies to reignite demand, including targeting first-time homeowners with affordable options and hosting cooking demonstrations. However, analysts note that creating demand in a slow-growth industry remains challenging.

While the grill market struggles, the tradition of outdoor cooking persists. The average cost of a Fourth of July cookout for 10 guests has risen to $71.22, up 5% from last year and 30% from 2019. Despite this increase, many Americans continue to uphold their grilling traditions, demonstrating the resilience of this summer pastime.

JetBlue Appoints the First Female CEO of a Major Airline

Joanna Geraghty, 51, will step into the role of CEO at JetBlue, making her the first woman to lead a major U.S. airline. Geraghty began her tenure at JetBlue nearly two decades ago, in 2005. She has served as president and chief operating officer since 2018. Geraghty emphasized her commitment to driving strategic initiatives, restoring profitability, and creating enduring value for shareholders.

Geraghty’s promotion comes as Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s current CEO, prepares to retire due to health concerns. Hayes, 57, acknowledged the taxing nature of his role, citing the need to prioritize his well-being following advice from his doctor and discussions with his family.

Geraghty is scheduled to become CEO on Feb. 12, around the time when a federal judge will decide if JetBlue can legally acquire Spirit Airlines. JetBlue has actively pursued mergers to narrow the gap with industry giants like American, Delta, United, and Southwest. Notably, in 2016, Hayes had previously attempted to acquire Virgin America, only to be outbid by Alaska Airlines.

Gas Prices Reach Summer High

According to, 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 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.

The Shift in Black Friday

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.

Travelers Face Soaring Airfares

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!