Cyber Monday Sales Higher Than Black Friday, Puls America’s Third Quarter GDP Was Better Than Expected

By 11.30.16

morning-brew-new

“The sale has become a cancer” — Former JCPenney CEO Allen Questrom, weighing in on the tendency of department stores to use sales and discounts as a way to boost lagging business. According to Questrom, retail hasn’t figured out how to deal with millennials yet.

Market Snapshot

  • U.S. markets finished slightly higher on Tuesday, with economic data solidly beating expectations
  • On the other hand, oil prices sank 4% as OPEC’s leading members clashed just a day before its long-awaited meeting to cut production in order to boost prices and put a halt to the oversupply glut plaguing the industry

The People of Italy are Voting

…And the Italian banks are on the edge of their seats. This weekend’s Italian referendum is a last-ditch plan from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to streamline the country’s political system—basically making it leaner and smaller. Oh, and if the referendum fails, Renzi has vowed to resign. Bold. Anyway, several major Italian banks are this close from insolvency thanks to sour loans and political uncertainty. A change in Prime Minister might cause enough panic to sink the banking system entirely. And the fun doesn’t stop there—if Renzi resigns, the populist Five Star Movement could be poised to take power, and they’ve promised to launch another referendum…on leaving the EU entirely. Brexit may have been just the tip of the iceberg, folks.

Keep Spending, America

…Third quarter GDP was even better than we thought. Yesterday, we learned that U.S. GDP grew at a 3.2% annualized rate for the third quarter—higher than the original report of 2.9% growth. Nice? Yes, very nice. For some perspective, that’s the fastest U.S. growth in over two years. Impressive. Who’s to thank for the upward revision? Consumer spending beating estimates handily—and we’ve gotta throw a shout-out to stronger soybean exports (yep, soybeans). So who cares? The Fed, of course. Strong GDP is just another excuse for the Fed to raise rates this December, and Yellen and Crew are expected to do just that.

Move Over Black Friday

…Cyber Monday just stole the throne, hitting $3.45 billion in online sales, a 12% jump from last season, according to Adobe Digital Insights. Big deal? You bet it is. Prior estimates predicted weaker Cyber Monday sales thanks to the early surge of deals over Thanksgiving weekend. Surprising to all, however, is that Black Friday was a very close second, lagging Cyber Monday by just $110 million (just a wee fractionlet in the context of American consumer spending). How does the future look, crystal Adobe? It predicts an 11% rise in online sales over the whole holiday season, highlighting the gradual decline of in-store shopping in favor of shopping online.

Diamonds

…An investor’s best friend. Luxury jewelry retailer Tiffany’s (+3.15%) posted earnings yesterday, surprising with solid results for a second consecutive quarter despite a sluggish luxury market. What a trooper. Unfortunately, Tiffany’s doesn’t think the good times will roll for much longer. Why the grim outlook? A strong U.S. dollar certainly doesn’t help (stronger dollar = tougher to sell diamonds abroad), but concerns about sales at Tiffany’s New York flagship store are also a factor. The flagship—which accounts for nearly 10% of the company’s sales—neighbors Trump Tower, which has been abuzz with police and protests since the election, slowing down traffic at Tiffany’s. Even diamonds can’t dodge the Trump effect.

Other Stories

Economic Calendar

Telecommuting: It’s a Thing

Want to see the world without quitting your job? It’s not an impossible dream; it’s Remote Year. The year-long program leads participants to a new city every month, with each professional working remotely for their jobs back home. In recent years, email, video calls and new tools like Slack and Google Drive have fueled a surge in telecommuting. Remote Year is capitalizing on the trend and our travel dreams by bringing it to a global stage. Too good to be true?

  • The program attracts mostly young professionals who are fairly established in their careers. While Remote Year will run a participant an initial $5,000 and $2,000 monthly (there’s rent for you), many companies have actually helped cover expenses.
  • For the employers, Remote Year acts as a perk, appealing to companies as an extravagant benefit sure to woo ambitious talent to come or stay. Employees of IBM, Booz Allen Hamilton and AOL have participated in the program, among plenty others.
  • Since 2015, Remote Year has sent 500 telecommuters all over the world. It’s hoping to double that figure in 2017. Want in? Good luck, amigo: having received over 300,000 applications so far, a Remote Year ticket won’t be easy to score.

Interview Question of the Day

My grandson is about as many days old as my son is in weeks and my grandson is as many months old as I am in years. My grandson, my son and I together are 140 years. Can you tell me my age in years? (Answer)

Business Person of the Day

It’s official: Steven Mnuchin will be named Secretary of the Treasury by president-elect Donald Trump. Mnuchin, a longtime banker and former Goldman Sachs executive, built his career by finding undervalued assets and converting them to massive profits. He also spent a six-month stint as Donald Trump’s campaign finance chair.

Food for Thought

On Black Friday, environmentally-friendly Patagonia didn’t rake in the big bucks like other retailers. It raked in the big bucks and donated it all to grassroots nonprofits working to protect the planet’s environment. The company expected to raise $2 million, but instead made a whopping $10 million. Good on you, Patagonia.


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