Pandemic is changing the way retailers handle holiday shopping

Many major stores were closed for Thanksgiving, but will open for Black Friday.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — After the Thanksgiving meals comes the marathon of Black Friday shopping. But this year it’s looking different because of the pandemic.   

Most stores were closed on Turkey Day but will open early Friday.   

Many shoppers will spend the big bucks online, but there are those who venture out to shop old school. They’ll be met with safety guidelines.   

“I used to go in the stores, but since the COVID, I’m going to be doing most of it online,” said shopper Charlene Blanchard. 

Blanchard, like many shoppers, will be purchasing off her laptop or phone this holiday season.   

The pandemic is changing the landscape of shopping.   

“It’s changed because of being close to people, and a lot of people are not wearing their mask,” said Blanchard. “So it’s really a big thing to me.”  

Electronic stores such as Best Buy will limit the number of customers inside at a given time. The store is also shifting in-store pickups to curbside-only to reduce the number of people inside.  

“I was never the camper outside,” shared Blanchard. “I usually go if I’m off during the daytime, and either late when there’s not many people out.”  

COVID-19 helped reverse the trend of retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day, instead giving workers a chance to spend the holiday with loved ones.   

But not to worry, you can still catch deals online. Stores like Walmart, Amazon, and GameStop have markdowns on TVs, Apple devices, and home theater equipment.   

Blanchard is steering clear of electronics this year for her grandkids.   

“It’s so much screen time from school, their tablets – so they need books,” she said. “They need to use their heads.” 

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How COVID-19 is changing shopping behavior on a global scale

The global shift to safer shopping has challenged brands of all sizes to rethink their retail strategies. As many people experience a fear of going out, or FOGO, safety has become a deciding factor in choosing where to shop. With this uncertainty, businesses have the opportunity to reimagine what shopping experiences can be by putting customers’ needs first. 

As we all prepare for 2021, and the possibility of new waves of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions, delivering on evolving expectations is more important than ever. For example, I’ve been inspired by the agility of brands that prioritized customer experiences to make shopping safer. To help pivot your strategy to meet peoples’ needs, here are four tactics we’re seeing from brands that are shaping the future of safer shopping:

 

1. Double down on hybrid shopping.

 

Facebook IQ research reveals that  87% of people surveyed globally say they’re at least somewhat concerned about going into a physical retail store to shop because of the pandemic.1 Depending on their comfort levels, people opt for different degrees of safer shopping. This can look like shorter shopping trips, curbside pickup or contactless delivery. 

According to Facebook Conversation Data from February to May, conversations around contactless delivery grew over six times during that period,2 making the opportunity for offering hybrid shopping even clearer. For instance, Kirkland’s Home Décor utilized curbside pick-up when it temporarily closed brick-and-mortar locations. To boost awareness and sales, the team built Facebook video and photo campaigns that showcased the availability, ease and safety of curbside pickup. With Kirkland’s being one of the first retailers to implement curbside service, the campaign tripled the rate of curbside pickups, helping to boost business.

 

2. Eliminate friction.

 

As people spend more time online, many are using their smartphones as part of the shopping experience. From pre-store research to checkout, mobile has become a major part of the purchase journey. But a bad mobile experience such as hard-to-read text, slow-loading pages and difficult navigation can turn off shoppers.

How many times have you left a website because it took forever to load or it was too difficult to find what you were looking for? People want to be able to shop as effortlessly as possible. And now brands have an opportunity to make this a reality by eliminating friction at every step. 

 

3. Redefine shopping experiences. 

 

With more people embracing online shopping, businesses have an opportunity to pivot from transactional experiences to experiential ones that replicate the discovery and trial of in-store shopping. There are plenty of ways businesses can reimagine online shopping, such as giving customers the ability to virtually try on makeup with augmented reality filters, shopping in real  time with Facebook Live and buying directly through influencers.

A GFK study commissioned by Facebook IQ found that more people are leaning into AR and virtual reality, with 63% stating that they want to virtually try on products in the comfort of their own homes.3 A great example of AR trial experiences comes from

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The changing face of Ugandan fashion

The MarketWatch News Department was not involved in the creation of this content.

Ugandan top fashion designer Gloria Wavamunno is calling on her colleagues to tailor their businesses according to the local market.Uganda’s fashion industry is characterised by struggling ventures, semi-professional small-scale production, and lack of infrastructure, institutions and government support.And now the challenges have been exacerbated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.Wavamunno, who is the CEO and founder of Kampala Fashion Week, also suggests recycling second-hand clothes and collaboration among the stakeholders in order to survive in the current health crisis.”It is time for designers to think locally, and that their businesses do not have to be the same as international business models. In our creative industry, you have to see the clients because we are still more into tailoring than mass producing for shops,” the 35-year-old fashionista says.”So how do you keep yourself and your customer safe? How do you reduce your production costs? I know people look at second-hand clothes negatively, but they can be a boundless source of materials if you look at it in a different way. It can be where you find your zippers, buttons or re-purpose clothing and fabrics.”People want to be cost-efficient but the Covid-19 pandemic issues may push up costs,” she said. “When everything opens up people are going to double charge because they want to make their money back.”Creatives also need to put their minds together. I am a founding board member of the Fashion Council Uganda and we are trying to connect designers together. Through the Kampala Fashion Week, I have reached out to many designers. Now it is about bringing designers together and helping each other.”Wavamunno advises her counterparts to concentrate on the African market.”I believe in the business module of functioning locally to expand globally. Expanding globally does not necessarily mean that you have to travel to Western countries. Globally is just as well the African continent. You can source your things to Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa or Congo, among others.”Early influencesBorn in England and raised alternately between London and Kampala, Wavamunno studied at the Kampala International School in Uganda.Wavamunno says she was influenced into a life revolving around art by her mother, aunties and art teacher.”My character when I was younger was more introverted, a bit of a loner. I was drawn to art through artistic expression, whether dance, painting, singing or things instrumental like playing piano. These are things that caught my attention.””And my mother was into tailoring with her sisters, which they still are, and now more into design. So, I learnt to tailor my own pieces. I was cutting, stitching here and pinning there. I was expressing art in so many forms,” she adds.”My art teacher in boarding school, Mr Smalley, saw me sketching. My form of sketching was still life. I loved to do portraits, body forms that evolved into outfits.Smalley noticed that I liked sketching a lot of clothes. And art to me was an expression of how you

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Fair Play: power games in the changing room of a women’s football team | Stage

This is not a play about football. It’s not even a play about women’s football. Although it’s worth noting that when I first mooted the idea around six years ago I was told it was “a bit niche”. However, discussing the commission with the National Theatre four years later I’m glad to say that, what with the Euros looming and in light of the expanding awareness of the women’s game, it was deemed a plus. But the play is really about power.

I’ve always loved playing football (five-a-side, some in leagues, some not, men’s teams, women’s teams – anyone who’ll have me basically) and two of the many aspects of it I enjoy are the team ethos and the instinctive obligation to live in the moment. It’s impossible to play a game of football (arguably any sport) and worry about your tax at the same time. So, if casual sexism rears its head on the pitch, and power games are being played by some (male) coaches in the one arena where we should be free from all that, it rankles. Eventually stories of manipulation start coming out, stories that it seems have been held in abeyance by two things; the fear of falling out of favour and that paralysing question: “Or is it me?”

Tamsin Oglesby
Tamsin Oglesby Photograph: Graeme Robertson/the Guardian

The idea for a play took root between what happened to me and pure fiction. I was shocked by the extent to which so many otherwise assertive women were kept in check on the pitch by the misuse of power, and decided to set up a new team – all women, run by women – and see if we could win differently. Tricky, in a world where actual goals are the measure of success. It’s not that women are fairer than men at exercising power – in fact there’s that prevailing myth that women are even worse (“women beware women”) – but gender plays its part and, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement, these are urgent questions: How big a part? What does fair look like in a win/lose arena?

Characters, plot, argument – “any resemblance to reality is pure coincidence” – but it’s only fair to admit I do have the cup on my mantelpiece.

This extract is taken from the arrival of a player 10 minutes before the game, by which time several noses are out of joint, tensions are high and it’s all, as they say, about to kick off.

Fair Play

Act I

BELS appears. A chorus of greetings.

BELS I look like a boy?

STEVIE /No.

SWEDE Yeah.

BILLIE Why?

BELS Receptionist sends me to the men’s changing room. I’m sitting there five minutes thinking big lockers, man. These guys walk in. Uh oh. I’m thinking. We got the unisex changing rooms now? Che pensiero terribile.

STEVIE Different definition of changing.

BILLIE Give it a few more years we’ll have mixed teams.

STEVIE Give it a few more years it’ll be

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Changing The Language And Lens Of Women In Leadership

From war-torn Tehran to leading the UK management consulting division of one of the world’s largest professional services firms, Sayeh Ghanbari shares what it means to her to be a senior leader.

On Being Promoted To A Senior Leadership Role

A relatively young partner at EY, I was interested to know what led Ghanbari to becoming a partner and holding one of the senior roles in the consulting firm. “By being good at my job” was the rapid reply. “As women, we so rarely acknowledge our own worth, our contribution and we fall back on a sense of false modesty. If we are good at our jobs, we need to say so, to own that and be proud.”

This reframing of how women describe their abilities and achievements is core to bridging the gender gap in the workplace – and one that Ghanbari is committed to. However, she recognizes that the critical combination for women’s career progression is having both the ability and the recognition of that and also the support from those around her.

EY offers such support. The firm has set itself ambitious targets in the UK to encourage women to progress their careers. By 2025, its target is to have 40% of its partner population as women. It knows that this – and the target increase in ethnic minority and black partners – not only enhances the organization’s culture but also fosters a true sense of belonging. As a firm, it is taking action. EY in the UK is offering structured support around parental leave, such as coaching and counselling, buddy systems and support for parents returning to work.

On Lifelong Learning And Development

Ghanbari has always sought to be the best she can be, taking on responsibilities and learning from experiences. An Iranian refugee, she came to Europe as a child and to Britain as a teenager and has embraced every opportunity to develop – devouring the learning of languages and acquiring new skills. She recognizes her own “obsession” with constant learning and being challenged. For Ghanbari, it is about “curiosity and personal development” and something she instils in others.

On Changing The Lens And The Narrative

Ghanbari says that men and women often look at leadership and achievement through very different lenses. This  “influences the language we use” – and our expectations as, and of, women. For example, many women talk of ‘obstacles’ and ‘hurdles’ to getting promoted. Why is that? Men tend to accept that challenges are simply par for the course in moving forward.

In addition, sometimes women can shy away from promotion, citing the negatives of career achievement, such as extra workload, longer hours, greater responsibilities, “rather than the joys, freedoms and opportunities to make real change that come from being a leader.”

“In a senior position, you’re more likely to have greater control over how and when you work. You can focus on the things that interest you and organize your own time. The more senior you are,

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St. Louis Wedding Planner Shares Advice for Changing Your Date Amid the Pandemic | Wedding

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Planning a wedding includes a lot of preparation – not only for what is expected, but also for what’s not. Most can agree that the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t on the list of the expected, thus making couples across the country carefully consider whether to continue creating their dream day or to change their date. Which begs the question: How does one decide whether to “change the date”?

“Changing your date can be stressful – you’re concerned that people might not want to come or they might not be able to make it,” says Charley Coldon, the owner and lead coordinator of Coda’s Events. “Just remember the reason for this special day. Your day – you celebrate you and the love of your life. It doesn’t matter where it is, when it is or who’s there. As long as you get to celebrate your love.”

From there, Coldon says the first step is checking in with vendors and contacts.

“One of the first things my clients and I talk about now are vendors’ COVID precautions, reschedule policies and deposits,” Coldon says. “When you decide to change your wedding date, the first person you should communicate with is your wedding planner/coordinator. If you don’t have a wedding coordinator, start with your venue and work your way through your vendor list. Make sure all of your vendors are solidified before you inform your guests that you’re changing your date!”

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The women changing the face of US politics



Nancy Mace et al. wearing costumes


© BBC


Much of the focus of the US election has been the battle for the presidency between two white men, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

But the nationwide ballot also saw Kamala Harris set to become the first woman vice-president and a record number of women voted into Congress – the part of the US government that writes and passes laws.

Here’s how the numbers break down ahead of Congress’s new term at the beginning of next year.

1. At least 135 women will have a say in Congress in 2021

Women, who make up just over half of the US population, currently make up just under a quarter of Congress’s two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

However, when the 117th congressional term begins in January, an unprecedented 135 women, possibly more, will serve across both houses – with 103 Democrats and 32 Republicans voted in so far, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP).

Women will take up just over a quarter of the 535 seats – 25.2% – up from the current 23.7%.

These totals could rise further, though, with the results of a number of contests still outstanding.



chart, calendar


© BBC


This year’s figures are part of a long-running trend towards better representation for women, with most previous Congresses breaking the record that came before – some years more dramatically than others.

Now, for the 15th time in 16 Congresses, the proportion of women across the two chambers will rise.



chart, bar chart


© BBC


Republican women have made particular progress this election after struggling to replicate the recent success of the Democrats.

In the mid-term elections in 2018, almost three-quarters of the women running for Congress were Democrats.

But from next year, while there are still more Democrat women than Republican women, the Republican Party will have its highest number of female Congressional representatives ever to serve.

So far 32 Republican women will sit across both houses, according to CAWP, surpassing the party’s previous record of 30 in 2004.

They could up their numbers further in some of the outstanding contests. For example, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler – appointed to the Senate last year to fill a vacant seat – will take on Democrat Raphael Warnock in the January run-off election in Georgia.

In the House of Representatives, the Republicans have almost doubled the number of women – from 13 to 24 – the result of concerted efforts by the party to recruit a more diverse range of candidates.



a woman holding a sign: Marjorie Greene is one of a number of Republican women elected this year


© Getty Images
Marjorie Greene is one of a number of Republican women elected this year

Among them are 13 “non-incumbent” Republican women – new candidates who do not already hold a seat.

However, the party still trails the Democrats, who are set to have 87 women or more serving from January.

CAWP director Debbie Walsh says the rising numbers are down to “hard work”.

“Successes like these don’t just happen,” she says. “They require the dedicated attention of parties, donors, activists, and

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Can You Vote If You Just Got Married? Changing Your Name Means You’ll Have To Re-Register

You’ve done it: you’ve tied the knot, torn into your wedding presents, made it through the mother of all post-wedding hangovers, and life’s pretty much perfect. Except for one pressing question for the democratically-conscious bride: can you vote after marrying and changing your name? Yes, you can, but you’ll need to be organized. If you’ve changed your name via marriage (or in general), you will need to re-register to vote, and you can do so here in less than two minutes.

If you have filed a voter registration form to update your name, you should be able to vote under your brand-new, married name — as long as you filed the form approximately 20-30 days (a rule of thumb, though processing times vary from state to state) before you’ll need to vote. After all, the registration office will need time to process the form. If you haven’t yet re-registered to vote, but you have already updated the name on your state driver’s license, refer to the form you completed. Often states have a section allowing you to update your voter registration details along with the details on your driver’s license all at once. You may not even know it, but you may already have updated your details as a voter this way.

PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

In the worst case scenario — in which you haven’t yet re-registered to vote under a new name or you haven’t updated your driver’s license or the form didn’t contain this section — try checking out this webpage to see what the current ID required by each state to vote is. Some states are “non-strict” i.e. if a voter doesn’t have identification, they can use an option to cast their ballot without them needing to follow-up on their vote. In this scenario, “a voter may sign an affidavit of identity, or poll workers may be permitted to vouch for the voter.”

In strict states, voters cast their votes on a provisional ballot and then follow up with additional action, i.e. returning to the electoral office a few days after the election and showing “acceptable ID.” While this may not be a perfect solution if you’re a long way off from securing the relevant ID, if you’re close to getting the ID but feel it’ll arrive a few days later than the elections, this could be a good solution.

So in summary: if you’re reading this now and you haven’t yet re-registered to vote, do so immediately. If you’re reading this a little later, check the form you filled out to change the name on your driver’s license, or the local laws in your state for the ID you need to bring to the ballots.

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The Franky Baca Line Is Changing LA’s Fashion Scene

LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSWIRE / October 30, 2020 / Franky Baca is the hottest new designer brand that is quickly establishing itself as a major figure in the Los Angeles fashion industry with signature futuristic and historic silhouettes born of bold styles, innovative designs, and various materials. The public’s anticipation for the much-awaited Season 4 Collection has been building since it was announced that it was already in the early stages of production right after the successful release of Franky Baca Season 3 Collection.

The Season 3 Collection is named “Mom’s Collection” and was created as a tribute to the tight familial bonds shared by Franky and his late mother, Judy. She died of unfortunate causes a few months prior.

The Franky Baca fashion line is a relatively new one as it only made itself known to the public in 2014. Since then, it has released pieces integrating art and fashion, bringing attention to them to allow consumers to look at fashion in a different light. With bold pieces ranging from the unique to the bizarre, outrageous pieces are not just something that Franky Baca is known to produce-in fact, the line takes great pride in these pieces.

By paying no heed to mainstream art’s popular aesthetic when conceptualizing pieces, the process of designing without preconceived notions of art and beauty allows endless possibilities in the realm of fashion. The flexibility of the design process is furthered by the line’s unisex pieces, which, in turn, opens up fashion to a wide variety of customers. With outstanding elements that allow for bold self-expression, the company grows in size and presence among the Los Angeles fashion scene.

The announcement of Franky Baca’s Season 1 Collection met with a significant amount of skepticism. Still, people quickly began to see that there is potential in the yet-unknown, rookie designer and his line is not just another T-shirt brand. In the same year, he released his clothing line, he received two invitations to fashion shows in California. While he turned down the Los Angeles showcase to be closer to home, he brought his family to attend the San Francisco Fashion Charity Show, which was dedicated to raising money for children and adults with learning disabilities. It was a great moment for Franky Baca as he had the opportunity to showcase his designs in his hometown and have his mother in attendance. A few months later, the Franky Baca Season 1 Collection would be picked up by two stores. These events laid the foundation for what has now become a very successful enterprise.

Franky Baca has recently signed with Making Stars Talent Agency, released the Franky Baca Season 4 Collection, and published a book titled Women Are Better, But Also My Irrational Thoughts and Theories, which goes into his thought process and teaches anyone how they can get into the fashion industry, including modeling and acting.

Despite the hurdles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Franky Baca continues to progress his brand and polish his skills.

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Kmart Australia shoppers go wild over a ‘game changing’ Christmas wrapping paper storage box

Shoppers go wild over a ‘game changing’ storage box for storing Christmas wrapping paper, ribbons and gift tags – and it costs just $9

  • Shoppers are going wild over a Christmas wrap storage box from Kmart for $9
  • Customers can conveniently store all their festive materials in one place 
  • The storage box is big enough to hold rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons and more

Shoppers are going wild over a ‘game changing’ storage box that’s perfect for storing rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, and gift tags.

The $9 product has just landed in Kmart stores so customers can conveniently store all their festive materials in one place.

The storage box is big enough to hold rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, decorative tape, Christmas cards and other essentials.

‘Kmart has started reading my mind,’ one shopper wrote in a Facebook group.

Shoppers are going wild over a 'game changing' Christmas wrap storage box that's perfect for storing rolls of wrapping paper, and gift tags

Shoppers are going wild over a ‘game changing’ Christmas wrap storage box that’s perfect for storing rolls of wrapping paper, and gift tags

The $9 product has just landed in Kmart stores so shoppers can conveniently store all their festive materials in one place

The $9 product has just landed in Kmart stores so shoppers can conveniently store all their festive materials in one place

‘I was telling my husband (who pretended to listen) how I needed storage for wrapping and cards, and then low behold look what I found on their website.

‘I managed to get the last one on the shelf at Adelaide and was even congratulated by some nearby shoppers after practically launching myself at it.’

Dozens of people were amazed by the woman’s discovery, with many saying they needed a storage bag for all their festive items as well.

‘Oh how bloody clever! Might have to do some stretches before I go to Kmart today,’ one shopper said.

The retailer has also released Christmas tree and lights storage bags (pictured) for just $12 so shoppers can keep the bulkier items 'dust free' throughout the year

The retailer has also released Christmas tree and lights storage bags (pictured) for just $12 so shoppers can keep the bulkier items ‘dust free’ throughout the year

There's also a $9 ornament storage box (pictured) to keep all your Christmas baubles and decorations in one place so you can reuse over the following years

There’s also a $9 ornament storage box (pictured) to keep all your Christmas baubles and decorations in one place so you can reuse over the following years

Another wrote: ‘I think every home needs this,’ while one woman added: ‘This would be handy.’

Besides the storage box for wrapping, the retailer has also released Christmas tree and lights storage bags for just $12 so shoppers can keep the bulkier items ‘dust free’ throughout the year.

There’s also a $9 ornament storage box to keep all your Christmas baubles and decorations in one place so you can reuse over the following years.

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