Widespread Outage Disrupts Major Retail, Financial, Travel, Olympic Websites Worldwide – NBC New York


A widespread disruption caused severe outages for some of the world’s biggest websites on Thursday afternoon.

DownDetector.com showed a sharp and simultaneous spike in outage reports for prominent travel, retail, financial and gaming websites globally. In most cases, the spike in outage reports appeared to start around 11:40 a.m. ET.

Even the Tokyo Olympics website and app were reported to be intermittently down, just hours before the Opening Ceremony.

Some municipal governments reported disruptions to 911 service as well in places like Illinois and Virginia.

Akamai, which operates one of the world’s largest and most crucial content delivery networks, reported a problem with its service at about 12:10 p.m. ET. Many partners, including Britain’s National Health Service, specifically cited that disruption as a cause of the outage.

At 12:47 p.m. ET, Akamai tweeted that it had implemented a fix and that systems were returning to normal.

The outages did not appear to have any operating impact on the Tokyo Olympics, where competition was already underway ahead of the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico said viewers can expect a “realistic, honest” opening ceremony. “It’s not in a vacuum,” Tirico said. “It’s understanding that people are hurting. There are difficult times.”





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Gauge on retail sales flat


U.S. retail sales stalled in April after a sharp advance in March when pandemic-relief checks provided millions of Americans with increased spending power.

The value of overall retail purchases was essentially unchanged last month after an upwardly revised 10.7% gain in March that was the second-largest in records back to 1992, Commerce Department figures showed Friday.

The total value of retail sales was a record $619.9 billion in April.

While consumers may begin to shift more of their spending to services such as entertainment and travel as pandemic fears dissipate, elevated savings supported by fiscal stimulus should help underpin retail demand.

The question is whether consumers will continue to spend without stimulus checks. “The April retail sales tip the odds toward slower sales in the coming months,” said analysts at Contingent Macro Advisors.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

Friday’s report comes amid other signs the economy is improving as vaccinations accelerate and business restrictions are relaxed. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new pandemic low. And consumer confidence hit its highest level last month since the pandemic began.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask or social-distance outdoors and in most indoor settings, which may get more people to travel, eat out or shop.

Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., is closely monitored by economists to gauge the nation’s economic health. Friday’s report covers a third of all consumer spending but doesn’t include services, like hotel stays or haircuts.

Eight of 13 retail categories registered declines in April sales, with the largest percentage decrease at clothing stores, which fell 5.1% after a 22.7% surge in March.

Sales at non-store retailers, which include e-commerce, fell 0.6% in April. General merchandise store sales fell 4.9% and the value of purchases at sporting goods outlets dropped 3.6%.

The value of restaurant receipts rose 3% after a 13.5% March gain as states across the country eased restrictions on indoor dining capacity.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers climbed 2.9% in April, even as automakers faced production constraints due to the global semiconductor shortage.

So-called control group sales, which exclude more volatile categories including food services, car dealers and gasoline stations, dropped 1.5% in April after an upwardly revised 7.6% jump in March.

The pandemic substantially reshaped consumer behavior. Grocery store spending surged during the pandemic while restaurant revenue dropped. Apparel sales plunged as Americans canceled events, and spending on outdoor activities and home improvements soared. As vaccinations have picked up and warmer weather has taken hold, the retail industry has been waiting to see if spending will revert to its prepandemic levels.

The Easton Town Center, a popular open-air shopping center in Ohio, has been getting “close” to 2019 levels of foot traffic, though bad weather in April dampened some of its momentum, said Jennifer Peterson, the center’s chief executive. She said the center was planning to create summer attractions like a “prosecco plaza” and resuming events like concerts and movie nights with new adjustments like social distancing and masks.

“We’re thinking of this summer as kind of a relaunch of Easton, knowing that the pandemic has really put people’s mindsets in a different place,” Peterson said. “We want to bring them back with joyful activities.”

Retailers will continue to walk a tightrope in the coming months as they work to attract shoppers while creating a safe environment. The latest wrinkle came Thursday with the CDC’s new guidance for masks, saying that it is safe for fully vaccinated people to remove face coverings in most indoor settings.

Retailers, from individual chains to shopping centers, are still reviewing that guidance and figuring out what it could mean for employees and customers. The CDC’s declaration does not override mask orders from states, counties or cities. The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents thousands of grocery store workers, called the guidance “confusing” and said it failed to consider employees who regularly interact with unvaccinated, unmasked customers.

Information for this article was contributed by Olivia Rockeman of Bloomberg News (WPNS), by Joseph Pisani of The Associated Press and by Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times.



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Retail sales were flat in April as stimulus spending waned


  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / APRIL 19
                                A woman carries Target shopping bags as she leaves the store in New York.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / APRIL 19

    A woman carries Target shopping bags as she leaves the store in New York.

NEW YORK >> Retail sales in the U.S. were flat in April after soaring in March, when many Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks that boosted spending.

The report today from the U.S. Commerce Department was worse than the 0.8% rise Wall Street analysts had expected. But it wasn’t all bad: March’s number was revised upwards to 10.7%. Americans started receiving a third round of stimulus checks that month, helping retail sales soar.

The question is whether consumers will continue to spend without stimulus checks. “The April retail sales tip the odds toward slower sales in the coming months,” said analysts at Contingent Macro Advisors.

Friday’s report comes amid other signs the economy is improving as vaccinations accelerate and business restrictions are relaxed. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new pandemic low. And consumer confidence hit its highest level last month since the pandemic began.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask or social distance outdoors and in most indoor settings, which may get more people to travel, eat out or shop.

Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., is closely monitored by economists to gauge the nation’s economic health. Friday’s report covers a third of all consumer spending, but doesn’t include services, like hotel stays or haircuts.

The report today suggests Americans were heading out last month to eat instead of shop. Sales at restaurants and bars rose 3%. But sales fell at stores that sell clothing, sporting goods and furniture.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.





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Retail sales were flat in April as stimulus spending wanes


NEW YORK (AP) — Retail sales in the U.S. were flat in April after soaring in March, when many Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks that boosted spending.

The report Friday from the U.S. Commerce Department was worse than the 0.8% rise Wall Street analysts had expected. But it wasn’t all bad: March’s number was revised upwards to 10.7%. Americans started receiving a third round of stimulus checks that month, helping retail sales soar.

The question is whether consumers will continue to spend without stimulus checks. “The April retail sales tip the odds toward slower sales in the coming months,” said analysts at Contingent Macro Advisors.

Friday’s report comes amid other signs the economy is improving as vaccinations accelerate and business restrictions are relaxed. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new pandemic low. And consumer confidence hit its highest level last month since the pandemic began.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask or social distance outdoors and in most indoor settings, which may get more people to travel, eat out or shop.

Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., is closely monitored by economists to gauge the nation’s economic health. Friday’s report covers a third of all consumer spending, but doesn’t include services, like hotel stays or haircuts.

The report on Friday suggests Americans were heading out last month to eat instead of shop. Sales at restaurants and bars rose 3%. But sales fell at stores that sell clothing, sporting goods and furniture.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



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Retail sales were flat in April as stimulus spending waned


NEW YORK (AP) — Retail sales in the U.S. were flat in April after soaring in March, when many Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks that boosted spending.

The report Friday from the U.S. Commerce Department was worse than the 0.8% rise Wall Street analysts had expected. But it wasn’t all bad: March’s number was revised upwards to 10.7%. Americans started receiving a third round of stimulus checks that month, helping retail sales soar.

The question is whether consumers will continue to spend without stimulus checks. “The April retail sales tip the odds toward slower sales in the coming months,” said analysts at Contingent Macro Advisors.

Friday’s report comes amid other signs the economy is improving as vaccinations accelerate and business restrictions are relaxed. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new pandemic low. And consumer confidence hit its highest level last month since the pandemic began.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask or social distance outdoors and in most indoor settings, which may get more people to travel, eat out or shop.

Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., is closely monitored by economists to gauge the nation’s economic health. Friday’s report covers a third of all consumer spending, but doesn’t include services, like hotel stays or haircuts.

The report on Friday suggests Americans were heading out last month to eat instead of shop. Sales at restaurants and bars rose 3%. But sales fell at stores that sell clothing, sporting goods and furniture.



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Closure Of In-Store Travel Agencies Marks A Turning Point In Travel Retail, Says GlobalData


COVID-19 has accelerated the digitization of the travel agent model, creating more shop closures as in-store agencies switch operations online. This is a necessary adaptation to changing consumer preferences, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The long-term survival of in-store travel agencies has been discussed for several years due to the rising popularity of online bookings. Success in 2021 will largely depend on good levels of cash-flow, an area in which online travel agents (OTAs) continue to be a step ahead of traditional brick and mortar style agencies, thanks to their asset light business models.”

Only 17% of global respondents in *GlobalData’s Q3 2019 consumer survey declared they booked with an in-store travel agent, showing that prior to COVID-19, booking in-store was already decreasing in popularity. A more recent **GlobalData survey in December 2020 found that 47% of global respondents would buy more products online rather than visiting a store and 60% would do banking transactions online in the ‘new normal’.

Bonhill-Smith continues: “Lack of revenue and high demand for refunds has taken its toll on many traditional travel agencies. High fixed costs including high street rents would have depleted cash reserves further for in-store agents in comparison to OTAs. Store closures were considered essential for many to simply stay afloat during 2020 and some have been made permanent.”

STA Travel, a long-haul flight specialist with more than 50 shops in the UK, had to cease trading in August 2020 as costs were racking up at a time when there was little income. Flight Centre closed 421 out of 740 of its stores during COVID-19, while Hays Travel has declared it expects to operate a ‘hybrid’ return to retail with some shops reopening and others to remain closed in relation to the UK Government’s roadmap. Many staff have declared they are happy to work from home, which may see more permanent shop closures as a result. Tour operator TUI is the most recent to announce it plans to close a further 48 branches in 2021. This, in addition to the 166 TUI shops that were shut in 2020, leaves the company with around 314 branches as it aims to digitize its operations.

Bonhill-Smith adds: “It now boils down to survival of the fittest. The rollout of vaccinations worldwide, coupled with the supposed release of digital vaccine passports, has offered a beacon of hope for the travel sector. However, the news of new variants of COVID-19, coupled with ongoing lockdowns across Europe, suggests 2021 will still be a year that is far from normal.

“Traditional in-store travel agencies have been increasingly under pressure to develop their online directories to remain competitive within the global marketplace. The lower the fixed costs for travel agencies, the greater flexibility they will have in servicing the future travel space. Therefore, more shop closures are likely to follow as we enter the so-called ‘new normal’.”

*GlobalData’s Global Q3 2019 consumer survey (29,744 respondents)

**GlobalData’s COVID-19 Recovery Survey (2nd – 6th December 2020) (5,766 respondents)

About GlobalData

4,000 of the world’s largest companies, including over 70% of FTSE 100 and 60% of Fortune 100 companies, make more timely and better business decisions thanks to GlobalData’s unique data, expert analysis and innovative solutions, all in one platform. GlobalData’s mission is to help our clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative across a range of industries, including the healthcare, consumer, retail, financial, technology and professional services sectors.

GlobalData | LinkedIn | Twitter



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PODCAST – ReThink: Travel Retail


At the beginning of 2020 the travel retail distribution channel represented one-third of revenues for some traditional beauty brands.

The global pandemic exposed the beauty industries over-reliance on this sector that had been a ‘growth winner’ for years. 

With many traditional retailers doors still shut what should/could the post-pandemic travel retail experience look like? 

This months panel 

Nicole Fall CEO & Founder at  Asian Consumer Intelligence

Laura Saunter Senior Retail analyst at Global trends agency WGSN

Ashley Dudarenok Founder of ChoZan and Alarice

Discuss how to ReThink -Travel Retail 



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MCO 2.0 has shuttered two-thirds of small businesses in Malaysia, and that’s just tip of iceberg, retail group warns | Malaysia


MRCA said the current uncertainty as a result of the MCO will lead to more business closures and loss of employment. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
MRCA said the current uncertainty as a result of the MCO will lead to more business closures and loss of employment. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 ― Close to a third of small retail businesses have “collapsed” in the three weeks since the government enforced a second round of the movement control order (MCO) with more likely to fold if curbs are prolonged, the Malaysian Retail Chain Association said.

“The MCO extension is expected to depress the overall outlook for the retail industry which has been struggling since MCO 1.0 was implemented,” its president Shirley Tay told Malay Mail, referring to the first lockdown that lasted nearly a quarter of last year.

“The current uncertainty as a result of the MCO will unfortunately lead to more business closures and loss of employment,” she added.

“While we do not have any hard statistics, it is estimated that more than 50-70 per cent of small businesses have collapsed throughout this MCO period.”

Over 30 industry representatives had voiced their opposition to the MCO extension on Tuesday in a rare show of unity that underpins dipping confidence in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis within the business community.

Some of the most influential economic sectors have rallied behind a drive dubbed “Industries Unite” to condemn the partial lockdown extension, calling the move a death knell for more businesses and warned of soaring unemployment.

MRCA was among the 37 signatories of the statement that called for an urgent medium-term plan to stem the pandemic and keep the nearly decimated economy running.

Businesses have suggested targeted restrictions only for high-risk areas and stricter enforcement, citing the continued surge in daily Covid-19 cases as proof that blanket curbs are ineffective.

“Any decision on business operation hours and inter-district travel should ideally be based on assessment of sound facts and figures in relation to the risk of infectivity in any specific location and/or the nature of the business,” Tay said.

“If the risk outweighs the benefits in high-risk areas, it may be justified to restrict the business hours and movement of people.”

Industries have joined public health and policy experts in calling for mass testing and more resources invested in contact tracing as daily cases continue to soar above 3,000.

They said the government had squandered the chance to preempt the third wave by refusing to test asymptomatic cases and blamed the runaway number of infections on lax enforcement and inconsistent policies.

“It is equally important that the government adopts aggressive contact-tracing and isolation measures within a fixed time frame for that specific location,” Tay said.

“Although there will be a temporary business or travel disruption within such an area, such a move will ensure that all positive Covid-19 cases can be identified in the most efficient and effective manner,” she added.



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Leading broker tips Super Retail (ASX:SUL) share price to rocket higher


The Super Retail Group Ltd (ASX: SUL) share price has been a strong performer over the last six months.

During this period, the retail conglomerate’s shares have charged an impressive 42% higher.

Can the Super Retail share price go even higher?

If you missed out on the stellar gains made by the Super Retail share price over the last six months, don’t worry. This is because one leading broker believes they can go a lot higher from here.

In response to its impressive trading update earlier this week, Goldman Sachs has reiterated its buy rating and lifted the price target on Super Retail’s shares to $14.80.

Based on the current Super Retail share price, this price target implies potential upside of 29% for its shares over the next 12 months. This potential return increases to almost 36% when you include the generous dividends the broker is expecting the company to pay.

Goldman Sachs has forecast a fully franked dividend of 78 cents per share in FY 2021. This equates to a 6.8% dividend yield at present.

Why is Goldman Sachs bullish on Super Retail?

The broker believes Super Retail is perfectly positioned to benefit from the current trading environment. It explained:

“SUL has continued to position itself extremely well to capture the unique trading environment we have seen over much of 2020, and in particular has made the most of the reopening of the Australian economy as households have increasingly shifted to outdoor activities and road travel over the summer period.”

“As we have noted before, while much of the consumer spending patterns seen over 2020 are unlikely to be sustained, we expect the international travel restrictions associated with the pandemic to provide a medium-term tailwind to SUL. Furthermore, the weakness experienced by SUL during the post bushfire period in 2H20 is likely to provide an easy base to cycle.”

In respect to its expectation for a big dividend this year, the broker commented:

“We forecast strong cash generation conditions to continue through 1H21, bringing forecast net cash to A$119mn in 1H21 and A$171mn in FY21. We forecast a recovery in dividend payout ratio to ~60% over FY21, translating to a forecast FY21 dividend of A$0.78 per share, implying a 6.7% [at the time] fully franked dividend before contemplating capital management.”

All in all, this appears to make the Super Retail share price one to watch in 2021.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Super Retail Group Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.



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