Americans spent $14bn online during holiday season, says report

Americans spent $14bn online during holiday season, says report
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Updated 27 November 2021

Americans spent $14bn online during holiday season, says report

Americans spent $14bn online during holiday season, says report
  • Cyber Monday predicted to be the biggest online shopping day of 2021

RIYADH: US consumers spent $14 billion online during Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe’s business that specializes in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 US retailers. 

Black Friday

The report said $8.9 billion were spent on Black Friday and $5.1 of online sales were reported on Thanksgiving. Sales on both occasions slid in 2021 as compared to the previous year.

Forbes quoted Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, as saying: “We are seeing that more purchasing was done earlier in the season as retailers put forth promotions as early as October prompting consumers to shop early.”

Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labor shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits increased by 47.5 percent compared to 2020, but fell by 28.3 percent when compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores in order to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s , for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Louis Navellier, chairman of investor Navellier & Associates.

Of those purchasing online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72 percent from 67 percent last year.

Retailers’ moves to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

BNPL

Buy-now-pay-later solutions like Sezzle, Afterpay, Plan It by American Express and PayPal’s Pay in 4 are growing in usage as consumers look for ways to manage their holiday budgets. BNPL revenue is up 422 percent in November and is over pre-pandemic levels (Nov 2019) for online purchases. 

Cyber Monday sales

Adobe is predicting that Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of 2021, with between $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion  in online spending. 


World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 17 sec ago

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy
  • Already one of the most unequal countries, millions more have been pushed into poverty

The World Bank blasted Lebanon’s ruling class on Tuesday for “orchestrating” one of the world’s worst national economic depressions due to their exploitative grip on resources.


The global lender said the nation’s elite were still abusing their position despite Lebanon suffering possibly one of the three biggest financial crashes globally since the 1850s.


“Lebanon’s deliberate depression is orchestrated by the country’s elite that has long captured the state and lived off its economic rents,” the World Bank said in a press release attached to a report on the Lebanese economy.


“It has come to threaten the country’s long-term stability and social peace,” the released added, echoing public sentiments that have prompted angry protests in recent years.


Fuelled by massive debt and the unsustainable way it was financed, the crisis has slashed Lebanon’s gross domestic product by 58.1 percent since 2019, plummeting to an estimated $21.8 billion in 2021, the World Bank said.


Already one of the most unequal countries, millions more have been pushed into poverty.

The World Bank expected those below the poverty line to have risen by as much as 28 percentage points by the end of 2021, after an increase of 13 percentage points in 2020.


Government revenues collapsed by almost half in 2021 to reach 6.6 percent of GDP: the lowest ratio globally after Somalia and Yemen, the bank said.


Real GDP is estimated to have declined by 10.5 percent last year, according to the report, while gross debt is estimated to have reached 183 percent of GDP, a ratio only exceeded by Japan, Sudan and Greece.

’DELIBERATE DEPRESSION'


“Deliberate denial during deliberate depression is creating long-lasting scars on the economy and society,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank’s regional director of the Mashreq.


“Over two years into the financial crisis, Lebanon has yet to identify, least of all embark upon, a credible path toward economic and financial recovery.”


While government finances improved in 2021, that was driven by a decline in spending even steeper than in revenues, the World Bank said.


It projects a fiscal deficit of 0.4 percent of GDP in 2021 from 3.3 percent of GDP last year, helped by a recovery in tourism. Arrivals leapt 101.2 percent in the first seven months of last year, though still impacted by the pandemic.


But a sudden halt to capital inflows and a large current account deficit was steadily eroding reserves, the World Bank said.


Lebanon began talks with the IMF on Monday, hoping to secure a bailout — something Beirut has failed to achieve since 2020, with no sign of long-delayed economic reforms sought by donors.


“This elite commands the main economic resources, generating large rents and dividing the spoils of a dysfunctional state,” the World Bank said.


Lebanon’s politicians, former militia leaders and others from families wielding influence for generations over the Christian and Muslim communities often acknowledge corruption exists.

But they generally deny individual responsibility and say they are doing their best to rescue the economy.


The crisis has caused massive losses in the financial system, estimated by the government in December at $69 billion.


“Worryingly, key public and private actors continue to resist recognition of these losses, perpetuating the zombie-like state of the economy,” the World Bank said.


The nosediving exchange rate — the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value since 2019 — should have boosted exports.

“This did not happen,” the World Bank said, hindered by pre-crisis economic fundamentals, global conditions and the institutional environment.


Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more CO2 than it captures, study claims

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more CO2 than it captures, study claims
Quest CCS facility. Shell.com
Updated 21 min 28 sec ago

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more CO2 than it captures, study claims

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more CO2 than it captures, study claims
  • The emission figure compares to the carbon footprint of 1.2 million diesel vehicles annually


RIYADH: Shell's carbon capture plant, better known as Quest, has been accused of releasing more greenhouse gases than it captures by UK human rights organization Global Witness.

The UK multinational oil and gas firm's carbon capture facility, located in Alberta, Canada, has averted 5 million tons of carbon dioxide from breaking free into the atmosphere since 2015.

However, Global Witness claim its investigation shows that at the same time it has emitted 7.5 million tons of greenhouse gases.


The emission figure compares to the carbon footprint of 1.2 million diesel vehicles annually, the study added.

The oil giant rebutted the study analysis by Global Witness stating it was “simply wrong”, CNBC reported citing a spokesman for Shell.

While the carbon capture and storage industry vowed a 90 percent carbon capture rate, the Global Witness study indicates that only 48 percent of Quest’s carbon emissions were, in fact, captured.

The Quest plant poses a potential solution to the energy transition and is designed to capture around 33 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, the Shell spokesman claimed.


Pakistan raises $1bn, offers highest-ever rate for a sukuk of 7.95 percent

Pakistan raises $1bn, offers highest-ever rate for a sukuk of 7.95 percent
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 41 min 52 sec ago

Pakistan raises $1bn, offers highest-ever rate for a sukuk of 7.95 percent

Pakistan raises $1bn, offers highest-ever rate for a sukuk of 7.95 percent
  • The issuance comes at a time when Pakistan’s gross foreign reserves have fallen to nearly $17 billion

Pakistan has raised $1 billion with a 7-year sukuk, offering an interest rate of 7.95 percent, the highest return the South Asian nation has ever paid on an Islamic bond, a finance ministry official said on Tuesday.


The issuance comes at a time when Pakistan’s gross foreign reserves have fallen to nearly $17 billion from $19 billion in the past two weeks due to debt repayments.


Ministry spokesman Muzammil Aslam said international debt markets worldwide had suffered shocks since December due to expected increases in interest rates in the United States and Europe.


“So given the situation, we have got the good deal in this uncertain time,” he told Reuters.


Pakistan sees foreign funds inflows as critical given that its external account deficit has widened on back of soaring global commodity prices — in particular oil, which makes up about a third of the country’s payments.


Foreign exchange reserves are also a key buffer to stabilize the rupee. Pakistan only last year adopted a market-based exchange rate, resulting in a sharp depreciation of the rupee.


An IMF review board is meeting on Jan. 29 to approve a $1 billion tranche of a $6 billion loan signed with Pakistan in 2019.


The last sukuk Pakistan issued was a five-year sukuk in 2017 at a rate of 5.6 percent.


A healthier global economy is set to push oil demand to an all-time high: Jadwa

A healthier global economy is set to push oil demand to an all-time high: Jadwa
Updated 25 January 2022

A healthier global economy is set to push oil demand to an all-time high: Jadwa

A healthier global economy is set to push oil demand to an all-time high: Jadwa

Driven by a stronger global economy, higher mobility and loosened restrictions, oil demand is expected to hit an all-time high of 100.8 million barrels per day, according to a Saudi investment bank.

Jadwa Investment said that demand will be 4 percent higher in 2022 when compared to the previous year.

However, the omicron outbreak could induce a setback in demand for the first quarter of 2022, before going up in the following three quarters.

The investment firm pointed out that the traditional centers of oil demand — such as the US, China, other Asia and India — will account for 62 percent of the growth in demand this year.

One issue Jadwa mentioned was the inability of some OPEC+ members to meet their production targets. In the final quarter of 2021, the alliance raised its production by 240,000 barrels per day, noticeably below the expected average of 800,000 barrels per day.

As for oil prices, the Riyadh-based firm increased its 2022 Brent oil price forecasts to $76 per barrel, up from a previous estimate of $71 a barrel. 

The rise in the projection was attributed to shortfalls in OPEC+ spare capacity and drops in commercial oil activity.


Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign electrical interconnection agreement 

Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign electrical interconnection agreement 
Updated 45 min 58 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign electrical interconnection agreement 

Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign electrical interconnection agreement 

Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed an electrical interconnection agreement on Tuesday at the Saudi-Iraqi Forum.

Hamid Al-Ghazi, the  Secretary-General of Iraq's Council of Ministers, set out the need for the deal, saying: "Iraq is in dire need of electricity, and this connection will add to the Iraqi electric power."

The Memorandum of Understandng came as a result of a study conducted by the two countries, which concluded that there is an opportunity to connect them in what is a step towards achieving a regional market for electricity sharing.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Ablduaziz bin Salman said: “Recently, Saudi Arabia and Jordan signed a MoU of electrical interconnection between both countries, and then a few months ago we signed an agreement in the same regard with Egypt."

“Today comes the agreement with Iraq, which is part of a goal to make the Kingdom a regional center for linking electricity systems in the Arab world,” he added.