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Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Milk, eggs, chicken breasts — and a pair of Vince Camuto ankle boots? Footwear retailer DSW just opened a pair of 1,200-square-foot shoe shops inside two supermarkets in Minneapolis — each of them located at the front of the store, with as many as 3,000 pairs of shoes to choose from. Customers can either pay for their shoes in the checkout lane at Hy-Vee, a regional grocery chain in the Midwest, or separately inside the DSW mini shop. Some Hy-Vee locations will also will have DSW pickup lockers, allowing customers to order from dsw.com and have their order shipped directly to the supermarket, the companies said. Four more DSW shops are expected to open at Hy-Vee grocery stores in the city later this month, and dozens more planned for next year, DSW’s owner Designer Brands said Monday. While it looks like a bid to catch shoppers during the coronavirus pandemic, the companies began talking about the tie-up more than a year ago before first announcing it in April, Bill Jordan, chief growth officer at Designer Brands, told CNN. “We were already thinking at the time about how to make the shoe shopping experience easier for customers. In many cases, grocery stores are the number one shopping destination that people go to again and again,” said Jordan. “This has become more so through the pandemic.” DSW, which is owned by publicly held Designer Brands, said earlier this month that it will focus on casual shoes amid a steep sales decline due to the pandemic. Sales dropped 43 percent in the second quarter to $490 million, the company reported on Sept. 3. “In order to serve our customers in the near-term, we are flexing fall inventory receipts away from seasonal and dress products and towards our highest performing category, athleisure, with an emphasis on comfortable and cozy products,” Designer Brands, chief executive Roger Rawlins said in a statement at the time. Hy-Vee did not add additional space to its stores for the DSW shop-in-shops, spokeswoman Tina Pothoff told The Post. “Merchandise that was previously in the space was reallocated to different parts of the store,” she said. Some consumers reacted to the initial news this Spring with disbelief. “Is it just me that thinks trying on shoes and people messing with their dirty feet in the middle of a grocery store is a little [green frownie emoji] especially if they go to the shoes first and then proceed to touch food after that,” tweeted Dawn P on June 9.
Twitter is examining why its artificial intelligence sometimes cuts black people’s faces out of photos. The social-media giant uses technology called a neural network to create the cropped previews of photos that users see as they scroll through their feeds. But users discovered that the system often hones in on white faces when they’re pictured in the same image as black faces. “We tested for bias before shipping the model and didn’t find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing, but it’s clear that we’ve got more analysis to do,” Twitter spokeswoman Liz Kelley tweeted Sunday after users pointed out the issue, which was reported earlier by The Verge. “We’ll open source our work so others can review and replicate.” Programmer Tony Arcieri demonstrated the problem with an image that pictured both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former President Barack Obama. The photo preview only showed McConnell’s face — even when Arcieri switched the position of their headshots and the color of their ties. The same thing happened with another image featuring two cartoon characters from “The Simpsons”: Lenny, who is white, and Carl, who is black. Twitter cropped out Carl and only showed Lenny in the preview. A third example with two men in suits showed the white man in the preview and cut out the black man. But a Twitter honcho pointed out that other factors, such as the color of the background, may have played a role. “In this example it’s the brighter background being used to make the cropping decision,” Dantley Davis, Twitter’s chief design officer, said in a tweet. “If we stopped cropping photos this would go away, which is on the team’s mind.” Twitter shares were down 1 percent at $39.75 as of 12:58 p.m. Monday.
Major banks’ stock prices sank Monday after news reports detailed how they allegedly moved huge sums of money for criminals around the world. Shares in finance giants Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC tumbled after the revelations that they and others handled more than $2 trillion in sketchy transactions linked to drug dealers, terrorists, human traffickers and other illicit operations, according to secret documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The banks reportedly flagged the transactions in more than 2,100 “suspicious activity reports” filed from 1999 to 2017. Banks file those reports with the US’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network when there are signs of money laundering or other potential crimes — but they went ahead with most of these transactions anyway, collecting fees in the process, BuzzFeed reported. Deutsche Bank alone disclosed more than $1.3 trillion in suspect transactions over that time period, while JPMorgan was responsible for about $514 billion, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which collaborated with BuzzFeed on the investigation. Germany-based Deutsche’s shares dropped as much as 9 percent to $8.27 Monday morning, while New York-based JPMorgan’s dropped 4.4 percent to an intraday low of $93.95. London-based HSBC saw its New York-listed stock fall as much as 6.4 percent to $18.45 after BuzzFeed reported that it facilitated money movements for a Ponzi scheme, a firm tied to drug kingpins and a company that played a key role in a Russian money-laundering scheme. The suspicious activity reports BuzzFeed obtained are highly sensitive documents based on the concerns of banks’ internal watchdogs, but are not necessarily evidence of a crime, according to the ICIJ. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network released a statement earlier this month in advance of the BuzzFeed report, saying the “unauthorized disclosure” of the reports “is a crime that can impact the national security of the United States, compromise law enforcement investigations, and threaten the safety and security of the institutions and individuals who file such reports.” In response to the reporting, the banks said they have made significant efforts to fight money laundering and other financial crimes. HSBC told BuzzFeed that it “is a much safer institution” than it was in 2012, when it pledged to step up its anti-crime efforts in an agreement with the feds. “We learnt from our mistakes, systematically tackled the issues and made changes to our business perimeter, our controls, and our personnel,” Deutsche Bank told the outlet in a statement.
Sony apologized over the weekend for the botched rollout of PlayStation 5 preorders which saw some retailers make the game console available earlier than others, frustrating eager fans hoping to guarantee a release-day delivery. “Let’s be honest: PS5 preorders could have been a lot smoother,” Sony said in a tweet which received more than 165 thousand likes and nearly 40 thousand retweets. “We truly apologize for that.” The Japanese gaming giant said that it will make more inventory available for preorder “over the next few days,” and said that more consoles will be available to purchase “through the end of the year.” Though preorders of the next-generation video game system were supposed to begin on Sept. 17, numerous retailers in the US and UK made their stock available on Sept. 16, causing a free-for-all which led the likes of Walmart, Amazon and GameStop to also jump into the fray a day early. Inventory sold out within hours, and gamers who tried to secure their PlayStation on Thursday found themselves out of luck. Indeed, the demand was so strong that Amazon emailed customers who had successfully played a preorder that they might not have their PS5 delivered on its Nov. 12 launch date. “You may not receive this item on the day it is released due to high demand,” Amazon said in its email, which dozens of buyers shared on Twitter. “We’ll make every effort to get the item to you as soon as possible once released.” Sony last week announced that PlayStation 5 will retail for $499. A cheaper, all-digital edition of the gaming system, which doesn’t feature a disk drive and can only play downloaded software, will retail for $399. Xbox, which is also releasing a new console to compete with PlayStation this holiday season, will begin taking preorders on Tuesday. Shares of Sony were down 1.6 percent Monday morning, at $77.70.
President Trump said he will not approve a deal to keep TikTok running in the US if its Chinese parent company remains in control of the popular video-sharing app. Trump on Monday said he wanted Walmart and Oracle to have “total control” of TikTok in the US after Bejing-based ByteDance claimed it would still own the app under its proposed partnership with the two American companies. “They [ByteDance] will have nothing to do with it and if they do we just won’t make the deal,” Trump said in a Monday interview with Fox News. Trump on Saturday said he had given his “blessing” to a deal that would see software firm Oracle and retail giant Walmart take a 20 percent stake in TikTok Global, a new US-based company set up to run the app in the states. The two companies said American investors would own a majority of TikTok Global, which is expected to go public within a year. But ByteDance appeared to contradict that Monday, saying it would own 80 percent of the newly formed entity after a “small round” of financing before the initial public offering. Trump said Oracle and Walmart would have to be in charge for American officials to approve the deal. The president has threatened to ban TikTok in the US over concerns about the Chinese government getting ahold of its user data, allegations TikTok has denied. “It’s going to be controlled, totally controlled by Oracle, and then I guess they’re going public and they’re buying out the rest of it, they’re buying out a lot,” Trump said Monday. “And if we find that they don’t have total control then we’re not going to approve the deal.” “it’s all going to be run by Walmart — 100 percent — and Oracle,” he added. Oracle — which was founded by billionaire Trump supporter Larry Ellison — doubled down Monday on its assertion that Americans would control TikTok Global, saying ByteDance would not have sway over the new entity. “Upon creation of TikTok Global, Oracle/Walmart will make their investment and the TikTok Global shares will be distributed to their owners, Americans will be the majority and ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global,” Oracle executive vice president Ken Glueck said in a statement. A ByteDance spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s remarks.
Nikola founder Trevor Milton has left the embattled electric-vehicle startup’s board after a short-seller accused him of lying about the company’s technology. Phoenix-based Nikola announced the shakeup early Monday morning as it grappled with investment firm Hindenburg Research’s allegations that Milton made bogus claims to secure important corporate partnerships. “The focus should be on the company and its world-changing mission, not me,” Milton said in a statement. “I intend to defend myself against false allegations leveled against me by outside detractors.” News of the sudden leadership change sent Nikola’s stock price plunging 26.7 percent to $25.05 as of 8:19 a.m. Nikola said it had tapped board member Stephen Girsky, a former General Motors vice chairman, to become its new chairman. Milton called Girsky the “right leader to guide our vision” and expressed confidence in Nikola CEO Mark Russell. The move came less than two weeks after GM announced it would take an 11 percent stake in Nikola and produce its all-electric pickup truck, the Badger, under a multibillion-dollar deal the companies cast as mutually beneficial. But Hindenburg released a report just two days later calling Nikola “an intricate fraud built on dozens of lies” over the course of Milton’s career. Among the allegations was that the company had staged a January 2018 video of its Nikola One semi truck by filming it rolling down a hill in neutral, not powered by its own engine. Nikola called the report “a hit job for short sale profit driven by greed” and said it never claimed the truck was driving “under its own propulsion.” But Hindenburg said the company’s response had “holes big enough to roll a truck through.” Asked about the controversy last week, GM CEO Mary Barra said the automaker had “done the appropriate diligence” on Nikola as a part of the deal between the two companies. Nikola has touted several designs for electric trucks powered by batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. The startup — which like rival automaker Tesla is named for the 19th-century inventor — went public in June with a handful of vehicle concepts and essentially no revenue. With Post wires
The latest episode of the Short Squeeze is now available. This week Lucy Battersby is joined by IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda to discuss the latest economic data, what the recommencement of IPOs on the ASX means and what the US market is telling us about the looming US presidential election. Emma Koehn also joins to talk about when we're really likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine. You can find past episodes of the weekly podcast, which is produced in conjunction with IG, here. Each episode is goes for about 10 minutes and is also available through Spotify and Google Podcasts.
Summer is barely over and US retailers are already fretting over the upcoming holiday shopping season amid fears that not even the coronavirus can keep Americans away from their favorite post-Thanksgiving pastime. The industry is bracing for a 30 percent jump in brick-and-mortar traffic between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And while that would normally be a good thing, stores this year aren’t equipped to handle too many shoppers at once due to social-distancing requirements. “We are hearing a lot of worry about the holidays,” said Gabriella Santaniello, president of A Line Partners, a retail research firm. “How are we going to manage a rush of people” is the primary concern, she said. Pandora, a popular shopping destination for charms and trinkets, is among the retailers concerned about holiday crowding at a time when it’s limiting store traffic to about 10 people at a time, including four or so sales associates. “Our stores would not be able to handle the 30 percent greater customer traffic we expect between Black Friday and Christmas,” said Sid Keswani, president of Pandora’s North American operations. “While mall traffic is down, it’s still there.” Aaron Sanandres, co-founder and chief executive of men’s shirt seller Untuckit, said he, too, fears the holidays could become unruly if shipping companies like UPS continue to be more burdened than usual thanks to the coronavirus. If customers can’t get what they want in time for Christmas and Hanukkah, they will get in their cars and head to the mall, he said. “One very, very big question mark now is shipping, which could drive people to stores,” he said. In an effort to curb the crowds, many stores will be doing away with traditional holiday sales tactics, including Black Friday doorbusters, late-night hours and free giveaways. People interested in a post-turkey dinner shopping excursion could have a hard time even finding a store that’s open as a growing number of retailers — Walmart, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s and Best Buy — have said they will keep their workers home Thanksgiving Day. Black Friday hours will also be pared back. Empire Outlets of Staten Island, for example, plans to open at 8 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, said Travis Noyes, senior vice president of marketing for the outlet center overlooking the New York Harbor. Last year, Empire Outlets’ 26 stores, including Nike Factory, H&M and Old Navy Outlet, opened for Black Friday at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and stayed open all night through the next day until 10 p.m. Holiday discounting won’t be gone entirely. But rather than condensing Black Friday into a single day or weekend, stores will spread it out over many weeks. Home Depot took this trend to a new level this month when it announced that its Black Friday deals would last two months starting in November. Retailers will also do more online-only sales, said Kristin McGrath, editor of BlackFriday.com. “We think retailers will use the terminology, but they’ll be online mostly,” McGrath said. Pandora has been busy testing ways to reduce its lines to avoid frustrating customers this holiday season. “We have found that people are willing to wait in line for 11 minutes — but not much longer than that,” Keswani said. To help hasten the wait, the 300-store chain has set up 6-foot kiosks outside 10 of its stores, including at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ. The kiosks are filled with bestsellers and gift sets that customers can buy without coming inside the store or waiting in line. A Pandora employee is stationed at the kiosk to handle the transaction. People who choose to wait in line, meanwhile, will be handed a catalog to review to help hasten their decision-making process. Pandora is also rolling out a feature on its app that will allow customers to secure a place in line virtually. Untuckit, which sells shirts designed to be worn untucked, has also been focused on a new online shopping tool that it hopes will help reduce foot traffic at its 87 stores this holiday season. “When you pick a store, it will only show you the inventory at that store” to help customers avoid unnecessary shopping excursions, Sanandres said. “We had this program in the works and thought we’d roll out in 12 to 18 months, but [the pandemic] accelerated it.”
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Michelin-starred restaurant Caviar Russe is doubling down on its commitment to luxury cuisine — and to limping Madison Avenue. Its second-floor dining room at 538 Madison, near East 55th Street, will soon be joined by a ground-floor caviar bar and retail shop. The 2,000-square-foot venue, previously home to a ski boutique, will open in October or November depending on construction, said managing director Ilya Panchernikov. The exterior will sport a new look and be rebranded as the Caviar Russe Building. He made the deal directly with long-time landlord Metropole Realty Advisors. Terms were not available.“We did take the space pre-COVID,” Panchernikov conceded before expressing confidence in the city’s future and the loyalty of his long-time clientele. “New York is a little sleepy right now, but we’re here for the long game,” Panchernikov said. “We’ve been through 9/11 and the recession. Now, our clients are blowing up our phone — are you opening on Sept. 30? Which of course we are.” Panchernikov said his local business has been strong throughout the pandemic: “People can’t go out to dine, but our customers have funds” to enjoy its pricey products at home. The new ground-floor lounge and bar will have 40 seats. It will share the floor with a dedicated retail counter where customers can buy Caviar Russe’s products, including smoked salmon, duck foie gras and truffles, without having to go upstairs to order as they did in the past.
It's the major piece of guesswork for economists, demographers and policymakers right now: Which of our new habits will actually stick? For those thinking the future is a bit murky, the Reserve Bank has an idea of one change we can all probably agree on. Since 2017, the RBA has conducted a consumer payments survey every three years. Its latest research discussion paper released last week shows a marked change in spending patterns even prior to the pandemic. Shoppers were already leaving their cash untouched for day-to-day payments in 2019 and were tapping their cards or phones instead to pay for small items. For online shopping, debit cards surpassed credit cards as the favoured method at the checkout, and buy now, pay later services such as Afterpay emerged for the first time as a payment method, though at low levels. "More recently, the switch to electronic payment methods is likely to have accelerated as a result of consumer and merchant responses to COVID-19," the RBA paper says. Loading "[There] has been an increased use of online shopping as consumers changed their purchasing behaviour and merchants increased their online capabilities in response to the COVID-19 situation." In fact,
The family is known for hotel developments (including the famed Art Series Hotels) as well commercial developments, residential investments and storage. Family scion, Will Deague, who is named in the claim, was also the most high profile victim of the collapse of Sonray Capital which was founded by his Melbourne Grammar school chum Scott Murray - who was jailed over the broker's collapse. While best known as developers the Deague Group have also long been co-investors in other projects. The Deague's investment arm, Deague Capital, alleges in February this year Alvarium informed it of a development opportunity that was in the final stages of negotiation over a building contract that "should be closed out over the next week". The project is the Ambrose apartment complex in the inner-city Brisbane suburb of Milton. Deague Capital alleges Will Deague told Mr Treacy the company was reluctant to invest in the development until the construction contract was signed. Mr Deague claims Mr Treacy told him over the phone on March 4 that the execution of the contact was a few days away and that it would be for $50 million. Based on Mr Treacy’s assurances, the Deagues went ahead and