Small Business Saturday isn’t a novelty anymore – independent retailers depend on it

Here are the expectations for Small Business Saturday

Here are the expectations for Small Business Saturday   8:32 AM ET Fri, 23 Nov 2018 | 02:10

For Mackenzi Farquer, Small Business Saturday is a big deal.

The owner of Queens, New York-based Lockwood gift shop, which sells kitchenware, clothing and paper goods, says there’s often barely room to stand in her locations on the retail holiday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“It’s our busiest day of the year,” Farquer says. “I think people in this neighborhood especially are trained to know that this the day to come out and shop at small businesses. They are not only coming for holiday shopping, they also want to be here to support us.”

And those shoppers show their support in a big way — that day alone accounts for some 8 percent of Lockwood’s overall holiday sales. “It’s at a fever pitch and growing every year,” she says.

Small Business Saturday, now in its ninth year, is sponsored by American Express and encourages consumers to get out and shop “small” supporting local retailers and restaurants in person and online. Last year, nearly $13 billion was spent on that day alone, a slight dip from 2016.

This year, data from Amex and the National Federation of Independent Business finds some 83 percent of consumers say they plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping at a small independently owned retailer or restaurant either in person, or online. Nearly 6 in 10 consumers nationwide say they are aware of the shopping holiday, and among them, 80 percent plan to shop at independent retailers that day.

Small business owners working in bakery together

John Lund/Marc Romanelli | Blend Images | Getty Images

Meanwhile, data from CNBC and SurveyMonkey’s Small Business Saturday poll finds some 44 percent of consumers say they will patronize a small business on the day this year, up slightly from 2017, and 58 percent say they will shop in person. Overall this season, 28 percent said they will spend less while 14 percent said they will spend more.

This year, American Express has also expanded the holiday to Puerto Rico for the first time and is sponsoring events including popup shops with Etsy, campaigns to support female-owned businesses and more.

“Small Business Saturday is a great chance to drive awareness and keep small businesses top of mind,” said Raina Moskowitz, Etsy’s SVP of people, strategy and services. “Mass retailers play a great role in convenience and price, but when you shop from a small business, there is a story behind what you are buying. so it’s more personal and thoughtful, especially for the holiday season.”

Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Kate Rogers | CNBC
Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Heather Parker sells dog bow ties, leashes and other gifts online and at her shop Crew LaLa in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s her fifth year participating in Small Business Saturday, and each year sales have doubled, Parker said. Last year, the day accounted for 12 percent of the company’s overall holiday season sales, and even brought in new, repeat customers.

“Last year 40 percent of our customers from Small Business Saturday were first-time customers,” Parker said. “Of that 40 percent, 65 percent actually turned into returning customers.”

The store even has to bring in extra employees for the weekend and the rest of the holiday season.

“We have to beef up for it because we get such a response from Small Business Saturday,” Parker said. “Having a day that really shows support … is really inspiring. It helps us and kind of fuels us for the rest of the year.”

Here are the expectations for Small Business Saturday

Here are the expectations for Small Business Saturday   8:32 AM ET Fri, 23 Nov 2018 | 02:10

For Mackenzi Farquer, Small Business Saturday is a big deal.

The owner of Queens, New York-based Lockwood gift shop, which sells kitchenware, clothing and paper goods, says there’s often barely room to stand in her locations on the retail holiday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“It’s our busiest day of the year,” Farquer says. “I think people in this neighborhood especially are trained to know that this the day to come out and shop at small businesses. They are not only coming for holiday shopping, they also want to be here to support us.”

And those shoppers show their support in a big way — that day alone accounts for some 8 percent of Lockwood’s overall holiday sales. “It’s at a fever pitch and growing every year,” she says.

Small Business Saturday, now in its ninth year, is sponsored by American Express and encourages consumers to get out and shop “small” supporting local retailers and restaurants in person and online. Last year, nearly $13 billion was spent on that day alone, a slight dip from 2016.

This year, data from Amex and the National Federation of Independent Business finds some 83 percent of consumers say they plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping at a small independently owned retailer or restaurant either in person, or online. Nearly 6 in 10 consumers nationwide say they are aware of the shopping holiday, and among them, 80 percent plan to shop at independent retailers that day.

Small business owners working in bakery together

John Lund/Marc Romanelli | Blend Images | Getty Images

Meanwhile, data from CNBC and SurveyMonkey’s Small Business Saturday poll finds some 44 percent of consumers say they will patronize a small business on the day this year, up slightly from 2017, and 58 percent say they will shop in person. Overall this season, 28 percent said they will spend less while 14 percent said they will spend more.

This year, American Express has also expanded the holiday to Puerto Rico for the first time and is sponsoring events including popup shops with Etsy, campaigns to support female-owned businesses and more.

“Small Business Saturday is a great chance to drive awareness and keep small businesses top of mind,” said Raina Moskowitz, Etsy’s SVP of people, strategy and services. “Mass retailers play a great role in convenience and price, but when you shop from a small business, there is a story behind what you are buying. so it’s more personal and thoughtful, especially for the holiday season.”

Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Kate Rogers | CNBC
Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Heather Parker sells dog bow ties, leashes and other gifts online and at her shop Crew LaLa in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s her fifth year participating in Small Business Saturday, and each year sales have doubled, Parker said. Last year, the day accounted for 12 percent of the company’s overall holiday season sales, and even brought in new, repeat customers.

“Last year 40 percent of our customers from Small Business Saturday were first-time customers,” Parker said. “Of that 40 percent, 65 percent actually turned into returning customers.”

The store even has to bring in extra employees for the weekend and the rest of the holiday season.

“We have to beef up for it because we get such a response from Small Business Saturday,” Parker said. “Having a day that really shows support … is really inspiring. It helps us and kind of fuels us for the rest of the year.”

[“source=gsmarena”]

This sell-off was caused by a computer-driven ‘footrace,’ Jim Cramer says

Sell-off caused by computer-driven 'footrace,' says Jim Cramer

Sell-off caused by computer-driven ‘footrace,’ says Jim Cramer   11 Hours Ago | 01:10

As CNBC’s Jim Cramer watched stocks nosedive in Tuesday’s trading session, one thing became abundantly clear to the longtime market-watcher: it “was all about the rise of the machines.”

The major averages all fell more than 2 percent as a possible slowdown signal in the bond market and lingering trade fears rattled investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 800 points intraday.

Some attributed the dramatic declines to a lack of buyers, but Cramer already knew the culprits: complex algorithmic programs set up by professional money managers to sell when the odds of future market losses increase.

In other words, when an event that often precedes a recession occurs — in Tuesday’s case, short-term interest rates trading above long-term rates in a so-called yield curve inversion — some trading algorithms will automatically begin selling securities because the chances of an economic slowdown just got higher.

Cramer, host of “Mad Money,” drew a comparison with football. Some plays can seem very risky, but when you consider the percentage chances of them going right, there’s no choice but to implement them in the field. These programs make the same kind of calculation.

So, when the two-year and the five-year yield curves inverted on Tuesday, some hedge funds’ programs automatically sold the S&P 500, which tends to fall in times of economic weakness, and others automatically sold shares of the big banks, which suffer when long-term rates are lower, Cramer said.

“Why? Because historically, this situation has produced negative results for the bank stocks and these hedge funds are trying to get out ahead of others who fear those negative results but just don’t know they’re going to fear them. It’s a footrace,” he explained. “This curve, as they call it, overrides whatever you hear about good employment or consumer balance sheets or robust lending. It’s predictive.”

Worse, the charts are signaling more pain ahead: based on Cramer’s analysis, many hedge funds likely sold the S&P 500 when it dipped below its 200-day moving average because, in the past, that move tended to bring more downside.

“Here’s the problem: there are now so many hedge funds using the same algorithm, same programs [that] there simply aren’t enough investors willing to take the other side of the trade. If we all know that stocks go down on certain triggers, then who the heck would want to buy stocks?” Cramer said.

“That’s how you get a day like today, where the market goes into free-fall,” the “Mad Money” host continued. “When the percentages are against you and the algorithms are in charge, … nobody wants to try to be a hero and bet against them.”

[“source=cnbc”]

Bitcoin under pressure as US, Japan revive regulation concern

Governments around the world are scrutinizing cryptocurrency exchanges amid concerns ranging from money laundering to cyberthefts and trading outages. Photo: Reuters

Governments around the world are scrutinizing cryptocurrency exchanges amid concerns ranging from money laundering to cyberthefts and trading outages. Photo: Reuters

New York: Bitcoin slumped for a third day amid fears of a regulatory clampdown on cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan and the US, the world’s most active markets for digital assets.

The biggest virtual currency declined more than 3% in early Asia trading, extending its slump below $10,000, after Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) ordered two exchanges to halt operations for a month and penalized four others. The FSA’s announcement came just hours after a warning from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that many online trading platforms should register with the agency.

Governments around the world are scrutinizing cryptocurrency exchanges amid concerns ranging from money laundering to cyberthefts and trading outages. While signs of tighter regulation tend to weigh on digital-asset prices, some observers have argued that more government oversight would make the nascent markets safer for the hordes of individual investors who piled during last year’s speculative boom.

News on Wednesday that hackers had caused “irregular trades” at Binance, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, highlighted the risks of using platforms that often operate in a legal grey zone. While Binance said that no funds had been stolen, the exchange also said it was unable to reverse some of the errant trades, without clarifying further.

The clampdown in Japan, one of the few major countries to develop a licensing system for cryptocurrency exchanges, came a month after Tokyo-based Coincheck Inc. lost nearly $500 million in the biggest cyber theft of its kind.

Two exchanges—FSHO and bit station—were instructed to halt operations for a month, the FSA said at a briefing in Tokyo, while GMO Internet Inc.’s GMO Coin, Tech Bureau Corp.’s Zaif, Bicrements and Mr. Exchange also face sanctions. The FSA ordered Coincheck to revise its management structure, improve anti-money laundering procedures and submit a report by 22 March.

“They’re not going to allow anything to move without regulatory oversight in that market,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at Oanda Corp. “The FSA are extremely sensitive to regulatory compliance.”

SEC stance

In the US, the SEC said for the first time that platforms serving as venues for digital assets that are securities will need to register with the agency as a national exchange, or qualify for an exemption.

Many platforms are referring to themselves as “exchanges,” which can give the “misimpression” to investors that they are regulated or meet the regulatory standards of a national securities exchange, the SEC said in its statement, which was issued by the agency’s trading and markets unit and its enforcement division.

The enforcement division’s involvement shows the potential pitfalls for digital-coin platforms that don’t heed the SEC’s warning to register with the agency: they could be sued and shut down.

Exchanges that register with the agency have a high compliance burden, including being subject to inspections. They are also required to police their markets and follow SEC rules designed to ensure fair trading.

Some of the largest cryptocurrency trading platforms, including Coinbase Inc.’s GDAX, aren’t registered as a exchange with the SEC, and instead have money transmission licenses with separate states. Gemini is regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services as a trust company, according to its website, while Templum LLC is an affiliate to Liquid M Capital, which is registered as an alternative trading system with the SEC. Overstock.com Inc.’s tZero says it aims to be a fully-compliant trading platform.

Coinbase said in a statement that it complies with all applicable laws. “Under the current SEC guidance, Coinbase and the GDAX exchange are exempt from registration requirements as they do not list assets that could be considered securities,” it said. The company said it plans to continue discussing regulation of cryptocurrencies with authorities.

“We applaud the SEC’s statement,” Gemini President Cameron Winklevoss said in a statement. “The trading of ICO tokens that are unregistered securities on unlicensed exchanges has gone on for far too long. This is dangerous for consumers and bad for the cryptocurrency ecosystem as whole.”

Binance complaints

Users of Binance complained online that their accounts had been hacked, and took to social networks Reddit and Twitter to say that hackers had sold their smaller coins and purchased a cryptocurrency called Viacoin.

The exchange said in a statement on its website that it had been the target of a “large scale phishing and stealing attempt.” While it said “all funds are safe,” Binance noted that it was unable to reverse some trades from accounts targeted by the hackers.

“We again advise all traders to take special precaution to secure their account credentials,” Binance said. Zhao Changpeng, the exchange’s chief executive officer, didn’t immediately respond to a text message seeking comment. Bloomberg

[“Source-livemint”]

Mid-cap IT stocks: the safe haven that is beginning to look unsafe

An index of nine mid-cap IT companies weighted by market capitalization has risen nearly 10% since the markets started correcting in end January. Graphic: Subrata Jana/Mint

An index of nine mid-cap IT companies weighted by market capitalization has risen nearly 10% since the markets started correcting in end January. Graphic: Subrata Jana/Mint

Mid-sized IT services companies have never received so much love from investors. While they have enjoyed a preference over large-sized IT stocks for some time now, the recent correction in the markets has created a new fan following—those seeking a safe haven.

An index of nine mid-cap IT companies weighted by market capitalization has risen nearly 10% since the markets started correcting in end January. Stocks of large IT companies, the traditional safe haven, fell 3% and have indeed done better than the broad market, which has fallen around 10%.

But mid-cap IT stocks have really stood out, and things are getting a bit awkward on the valuation front. Companies such as Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd, Mphasis Ltd and Mindtree Ltd are trading between 19.6 and 22.4 times one-year forward earnings, based on estimates of Kotak Institutional Equities. In comparison, top-tier companies such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Infosys are trading at 20.8 times and 16.4 times earnings respectively.

According to an analyst at a domestic institutional brokerage, investors are rewarding companies that have been able to articulate as well as demonstrate confidence about growth, something that’s lacking among large-sized IT companies. Each of the above-mentioned mid-sized companies is expected to grow revenues at double the industry growth rate in the coming year. What’s more, since smaller companies were at a relatively low base with respect to margins, investors expect earnings growth to remain high as well.

Kotak’s analysts attributed the following factors to the higher growth at mid-sized companies, “a) The deals that have ramped up over the last few quarters are in the US$20-50 million range, small for tier 1 companies but large enough to make a difference for mid-tier companies; b) the advantage of a lesser drag of legacy portfolios; c) benefit from disaggregation of deals to smaller sizes; and d) the fact that the traditional disadvantage which these companies suffered on attracting managerial and engineering talent does not hold true anymore, thanks to a revamp in their management.”

While it is true that mid-sized IT companies are growing at a faster pace and also that this is worth getting excited about in a growth-starved industry, the fact remains that investors have gotten ahead of themselves valuing some of these stocks. Mphasis and Hexaware shares, for instance, trade 20-30% higher than the target price set by Kotak’s analysts and their valuations of around 19-20 times forward earnings defies the single-digit growth in earnings estimated for the next two years.

And even with the companies that are doing better and where earnings are estimated to grow in double-digits, valuations of over 20 times forward earnings assume earnings growth to remain strong for some years to come. In the backdrop of high valuations, it’s a bit odd that some of these stocks are being viewed as safe havens in a risk-off environment.

[“Source-livemint”]

Tamil film industry’s model makers move to greener pastures

Model makers, once an integral part of a Tamil film’s art department, have moved away from cinema to greener pastures

The use of scale models to shoot scenes that would otherwise have been difficult or expensive is as old as cinema itself. When combined with high-speed photography, a skilled cinematographer can convince the viewer of effects and images that would have been impossible to replicate in a life-sized setting. But with the advent of sophisticated visual effects technology, the use of miniatures in filmmaking (called the Miniature Effect) has largely been replaced.

With CGI taking over the use of models, the case is pretty much the same in Kollywood too. However, superstar Hollywood directors such as Christopher Nolan (action scenes involving Batman’s ‘Tumbler’ in The Dark Knight were shot using this effect) and Peter Jackson (in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) have kept it alive, choosing practical effects over computer-generated ones.

The same cannot be said about Kollywood. “It’s a dying art form in our industry,” says Abimanna Rajan V, a model maker and a former assistant of art directors Thotta Tharani and Rajeevan. “Even recently, a top director asked me if I could make a model helicopter for his film. Even before I could get started, he stopped me, stating that he’d found a ‘better’ solution in CGI.”

Rajan, whose miniatures have been featured in films such as Kushi, Sivaji andChandramukhi, says a career as a model maker in Kollywood is no longer viable. “Even in Hollywood, directors prefer models to CGI for a particular kind of shot. But in our industry, everyone’s in a hurry. If they’re asking for models, they want it in no time… and often at no cost too.”

He remembers a time when model makers were much in demand. “Even if it wasn’t for a scene, a bigger film would still need models, because a film’s lighting, set design and choreography were all discussed and decided using small models. Films can now use 3D software for that.”

Greener pastures

A graduate of College of Fine Arts, Chennai, Rajan says very few of his classmates work in cinema, having joined the IT industry in jobs such as graphic designer, Maya modeller, 3D Max modeller and more. “It’s because of the IT industry that a lot of the Fine Arts students have found work. Earlier, the only two options we had were to work in films or join an ad agency.”

Rajan, however, has kept his art form alive by finding work wherever he can. Recently, he was commissioned by the Chennai Metro Rail to build models of Metro Rail stations. “I see making detailed, near-perfect miniatures as my calling. That’s why I didn’t want to become an art director, because that involves other types of work which would have distracted me from making models. It’s like the concept of the film Boys, I can only do what I’m passionate about.”

The road ahead

When he’s not busy taking up assignments (his last film assignment was making Karthi’s army general costume in period drama Kaashmora and a model of the hijacked Air India aeroplane for Malayalam film Kandahar), he pursues his lifetime dream. “I want to make a miniature park in Tamil Nadu. A park where the public can view large models of India’s temples and monuments. Such parks have been around in other countries for decades, but we still don’t have one in our country.”

Explaining his dream, he underscores the difference between films and this park. “In art direction, the things we make have a short life span and we use temporary materials to build them. Even when others were using materials like thermocol and foam, I wanted to build using acrylic and fibre because the latter lasts longer. It’s the same with the park as well. I want my art work to last.”

[“Source-thehindu”]

Why fashion is the world’s most polluting industry

The fashion week tents have been packed up and the models sent home until the next collection debuts, but one deeply entrenched industry trend shows no sign of stopping: Fast fashion, which has become one of the biggest sources of pollution in the world.

According to a recent report, the textile industry emits more greenhouse gas emissions than international shipping and aviation combined. And the amount of waste the industry generates, as well as how much water and resources it uses, is increasing.

Since 2000, global clothes production has more than doubled, and the average person now buys 60 percent more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as they did 15 years ago. In the USA, over 85 percent of those clothes end up in a landfill.

China, which produces 50 percent of the world’s textiles, and imports the largest amount of recycled clothing, has been dealing with pollution from the industry for decades: Most recycled clothing from around the world is up routed there and turned into yarn. But starting this year, China will begin implementing a ban on the import of 24 solid materials, including textiles.

Nate Herman, the Senior Vice President of Supply Chain for the American Apparel & Footwear Association told VICE News things are going to get much worse.

“They have cut the source materials for recycled fabrics. It will have a very negative effect on our efforts to make the industry more sustainable,” he said.

But recycling clothes currently is extremely difficult — much of our clothing is from blended fabrics or synthetic materials, meaning that it is often more time and resource intensive to recycle them than to just produce new clothes.

Some experts, such as Ellen MacArthur whose foundation is leading the charge on creating a circular economy for textiles and who estimates that waste generated from textiles is worth $500 billion a year, believes that the fashion industry needs to go beyond just better recycling.

VICE News examines efforts to transform the textile economy and how some big name companies like H&M and Nike have signed up.

[“Source-vice”]a