Are malls and department stores really springing back to life?

Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom will report their first-quarter results on Tuesday. This comes after Macy’s, Ross and T.J. Maxx said last week that sales soared in the first quarter relative to last year.

This comes as no surprise to Bob Phibbs, who found himself at a mall in New Jersey a few weeks ago. “You would think it was the day before Christmas,” Phibbs said. “There were so many packages and people.”

Phibbs is not just a shopper –– he runs a retail consultancy, The Retail Doctor. He said it’s clear people are ready to get out and shop and shop in malls. “And this idea that all malls are dead, and no one will go to physical shopping, and online is going to do 50% [of all sales] in one year,” Phibbs said. “It just didn’t pan out. It didn’t even pan out in the pandemic.”

Still, consumer habits have shifted. Bill Lewis, a director at the consulting firm AlixPartners, said that the pandemic certainly accelerated some of those shifts and retailers recognize that. “So they’re still making digital an important part and a growing part of their business. But at the same time, they’re prepared to integrate the physical and digital even more than they did in the past,” Lewis said.

He added that COVID-19 lockdowns might have had a positive effect on retailers, forcing them to gain a better understanding of what customers want and how they want to get it.

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Read More: Are malls and department stores really springing back to life?

2021-05-24 11:11:18

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