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‘Black Friday’ becoming a shadow of its former self in US

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Black Friday will be followed in three days by “Cyber Monday,” a second high-point of spending early in the season.

NEW YORK, United States, Nov 30 – The US holiday shopping season officially opened with a deluge of “Black Friday” promotions but the frenzied crowds of the past have thinned out with the rise of e-commerce.

Companies in the retail, entertainment and tourism industries once again tried to entice shoppers after Thanksgiving with a bevy of offers on a day synonymous with American consumer culture and notorious “door-buster” sales that start at the crack of dawn.

But US consumers aren’t buying Black Friday the way they once did.

Only 36 percent of US consumers plan to shop this year on Black Friday, down one percent from last year and a decline of 23 percent from 2015, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey.

“Just a few years ago, Black Friday had the aura of a FOMO (fear of missing out) event,” PWC said. “Now it seems more symbolic than significant in the pantheon of retail holidays.”

Black Friday will be followed in three days by “Cyber Monday,” a second highpoint of spending early in the season.

Friday’s sales have prompted copycat versions throughout Europe, an effort that has generated no small amount of friction.

This year’s events prompted protest in parts of France, Germany and the Netherlands that included environmentalist rallies outside Amazon distribution centers and human chains blocking malls.

There has been little sign of that sort of subversiveness in the United States. Rather, the bigger emerging challenge for Black Friday has been shifting consumer patterns.

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The PWC survey said that for the first time in 2019 more consumers (54 percent) said they’ll do more of their shopping online than in stores.

Higher sales expected

Economists and retail industry insiders are broadly confident about the outlook for the 2019 season, owing to a strong labor market.

Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of US economic growth and has stayed strong throughout 2019 even as manufacturing has stagnated and business investment has been lackluster.

“Consumers are in good financial shape and willing to spend a little more on gifts for the special people in their lives this holiday season,” said Matthew Shay, Chief Executive of the National Retail Federation.

The NRF has projected that US consumers will spend an average of $1,048 this year, up about four percent they said they would spend last year.

But increasingly more of those sales are migrating online.

This trend includes Amazon of course, but also traditional brick-and-mortar chains like Walmart and Macy’s that have evolved into “multichannel” retailers, as well as companies and organizations hawking everything from pet food to hotel stays to political merchandise.

President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” merchandise was being once again discounted on the US president’s political website at 35 percent off.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was offering 25 percent off merchandise orders of $75 or more.

Due to the lateness of Thanksgiving, this year’s holiday shopping season is about six days shorter than last year, prompting more retailers to push up promotions even earlier in the season than usual, according to analysts.

Online consumer spending on Thanksgiving day came in this year at $4.2 billion, up 14.5 percent from a year ago and the first time above $4 billion, according to Adobe Analytics.

Jason Woosley, a vice president with Adobe, said preliminary data showed Black Friday was also on track to top its performance from last year by almost 19 percent, with promotions for sporting goods and appliances especially popular.

The data suggested the Thanksgiving day shopping spree hasn’t “stolen any traffic from Black Friday,” he said, adding that about 20 percent of the overall online sales for the season are expected between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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