Shopping for a bargain on NYC’s Billionaires’ Row

Gary Barnett is losing money. Over the past decade, the chairman of Extell Development, New York’s foremost developer of super-luxury properties, has bequeathed to the Manhattan skyline not one but two of the super-tall towers that have rechristened 57th Street as “Billionaires’ Row”.

In one of those towers, One57, Extell sold the penthouse to computer mogul Michael Dell for a then-record $100.5m in 2014.

But now the city’s luxury property market is in the grip of a once-in-a-century pandemic. With foreign buyers unable or unwilling to even visit the US to shop for real estate, Barnett expects to take a hit on three of his residential projects — he won’t say which. On others he may just break even after undertaking the Herculean task of erecting a new building in Manhattan.

“It’s very, very, very frustrating to build the most beautiful buildings in the world — super quality, super finishes — and to have to sell at a loss,” he laments.

A three-bedroom, $17.5m condo on the 43rd floor of Central Park Tower, a 1,550ft ‘dagger in the skyline’, with most of its 179 units unsold
A three-bedroom, $17.5m condo on the 43rd floor of Central Park Tower, a 1,550ft ‘dagger in the skyline’, with most of its 179 units unsold © Evan Joseph for Extell/MEGA

But to property buyers, a luxury developer’s pain may well be their gain. Across New York City, developers are cutting prices on luxury properties in a desperate attempt to move inventory. They are also picking up closing costs and throwing in other inducements for those brave — or foolish — enough to jump into a market and commit to a multimillion-dollar purchase just as a second wave of Covid-19 is bearing down on the city.

“It’s a golden opportunity to buy now,” Barnett says, estimating that “bottom fishers” were benefiting from price cuts of about 20 per cent. “The only reason not to buy now would be if you think that either the pandemic is going to continue for a much longer time, or you think that the world won’t come back to more or less normal post-pandemic.”

Whether the market will come back — and over what time period — is hardly certain. New York City’s luxury property sector had been mired in a slump before Covid-19. Some properties were so wildly overpriced, developers admit, that even a 20 per cent discount may not be much of a bargain, after all.

Gary Barnett, chairman and founder of Extell
Gary Barnett, chairman and founder of Extell © AP

Then there is the pandemic. It has closed en masse restaurants and theatres that supply joy to the city, while pushing up crime and homelessness. It might seem obscene even to contemplate buying a luxury property during a week in which governor Andrew Cuomo warned of a wave of coronavirus infections that threatens to overwhelm New York’s hospitals.

Or it might be just the time. Frances Katzen, a broker at Douglas Elliman, sold a penthouse this month for $18m. It had been listed at $19.9m. Another
client submitted an offer last Friday for a different property. Three others are looking, she adds.

“The big money really wants to

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Livestream Shopping Is Here to Stay. Here’s How to Nail the Art of Making Sales Entertaining

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, if you wanted real-time advice on how to style a trendy Rebecca Minkoff sweater with an equally fashionable handbag, your best bet was to head to a retailer, such as Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s, and track down a clerk. Post-Covid, Rebecca, the founder of the eponymous brand, will show you herself, right from her closet.

Minkoff is one of many retailers leaning into an e-commerce trend that the pandemic has helped accelerate: livestream shopping. Think of it like a QVC broadcast where brands and influencers pitch products but specifically for social media and e-commerce platforms where you can instantly click through to make a purchase. 

In China, livestream shopping is already a massive business, estimated at $63 billion. Thanks to Covid lockdowns, the trend is finally taking off in the U.S. Retailers now have a plethora of platforms to try. Google, YouTube, Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook have all launched live shopping offerings. Meanwhile, venture capital-backed startups NTWRK, Popshop Live, ShopShops, Moda Operandi, and others cater to more niche audiences. Some of these platforms are invite-only; others are open to any company who wants to start broadcasting.     

The payoff of making a live, direct pitch to potential customers is real: Minkoff says that generally every live video the brand produces, whether it’s on Amazon or Instagram, generates a 20 percent lift in traffic to its website. Lillebaby, a Golden, Colo.-based maker of baby carriers, has been using Amazon Live since the e-commerce giant rolled out a beta test with select retailers in 2018. On Amazon Prime Day Oct. 13, the brand says it saw an average video click-through rate of 20 percent, with 9 percent of those viewers making a purchase. 

To find out what it takes to succeed on livestream shopping platforms, Inc. spoke with both the entrepreneurs using them and the ones who created them. 

1. Figure out what your audience finds compelling. 

“We’re in the business of entertainmentizing retail,” says Aaron Levant, founder of Los Angeles-based NTWRK, a live shopping platform launched in 2018 that focuses specifically on curated product drops. NTWRK, whose audience is about 75 percent male, saw its revenue double between March and April. The platform features only products that can’t be found elsewhere, so retailers benefit from exclusivity and scarcity as part of the sales pitch.

The most successful product drops on his platform are the ones that have a great story, Levant says.

“Does it matter? Is anyone going to give a shit? Does it evoke an audible reaction?,” he says. He recommends that brands experiment with, say, showing the process of how a product is made or even pulling back the curtain on your own struggle as an entrepreneur. 

Minkoff says her customers want something much more practical: “Our girl wants to know the good, the bad, the ugly about the bag,” she says. “She wants the goods and wants to know where buy them and at what price.”

Lillebaby does a mix of content, from baby-carrier fit

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Prince Harry mistaken for Christmas tree salesman as he went out tree shopping with Meghan Markle

Prince Harry mistaken for Christmas tree salesmen as he went out tree shopping with Meghan Markle

Duke of Sussex Price Harry was reportedly mistaken for a Christmas tree salesman as he went out tree shopping with his wife Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.

According to reports, Prince Harry was mistaken for Christmas tree salesman by a little boy, who was not familiar with the Duke.

The royal couple was spotted shopping for Christmas on Wednesday and reportedly bought their Christmas tree for the season.

A twitter user, who works as a salesman at Christmas tree lot confirmed in a tweet, later deleted, that the royal couple came to them and they sold them Christmas tree.

He further said there was one another family in there alongwith their little son at the time when Meghan and Prince Harry were inside. The boy, who was not familiar with the royal family ran through trees up to Harry and asked if he worked there.

The salesman described Harry as a ‘chill lad’ and Megan as ‘very kind’.

The royal couple is set to celebrate this year Christmas in their Montecito home with son Archie.

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Holiday shopping season fraud stats revealed

There’s a 1% decrease in suspected online retail fraud worldwide during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season compared to the same period in 2019, a 59% increase from the same period in 2018 and a 14% increase from all of 2020 so far, TransUnion research reveals.

shopping season fraud stats

Holiday shopping season fraud stats

The findings are based on the same-store sales analysis of e-commerce customers during the traditional start of the global holiday shopping season, Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

These findings mirror the recent conclusions in the report that found 50% of U.S. consumers are concerned with being victimized by fraudsters this holiday season. The concern is relatively uniform across generations, though Gen X are the most worried about being victimized at 53%.

Heading into the holiday shopping season, the study conducted from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5, 2020 found 37% of 9,515 consumers surveyed globally said they had been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19, a 28% increase from the same survey the week of April 13, 2020.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the move from offline to online transactions, detecting digital fraud attempts has become paramount for e-commerce providers,” said Shai Cohen, Sr. VP of Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion.

“In order to avoid cart abandonment with all of these new sales opportunities, it is equally if not more important to ensure consumers are able to make friction-right digital transactions.”

Shopping fraud trends from Nov. 26 to Nov. 30

The percent of suspected fraudulent e-commerce transactions during the start of the holiday shopping season and entire year since 2018:

  • 15.54% from Nov. 26 to Nov. 30, 2020. 13.67% so far in 2020.
  • 15.70% from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, 2019. 9.80% all of 2019.
  • 9.76% from Nov. 22 to Nov. 26, 2018. 11.12% all of 2018.

The days with the highest percent of suspected fraudulent e-commerce transactions during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season:

  • Cyber Monday, Nov. 30: 26.03%
  • Saturday, Nov. 28: 12.39%
  • Thanksgiving, Nov. 26: 12.29%
  • Black Friday, Nov. 27: 12.02%
  • Sunday, Nov. 29: 11.68%

The global countries/regions and U.S. cities where the highest percentage of suspected fraudulent e-commerce transactions originated from during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season:

Country/region

  • Puerto Rico: 44.4%
  • Greece: 30.9%
  • Hong Kong: 28.3%

U.S. city

  • San Francisco: 9.8%
  • Pittsburgh: 9.7%
  • Los Angeles: 9.6%

Mobile transaction and fraud trends

Also, consumers used a mobile phone or tablet for 58% of their online retail transactions during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season. That is slightly down from 62% for the same period in 2019 and up from 55% for the same period in 2018.

For the holiday shopping weekend, retail transactions from a mobile phone compared to all e-commerce transactions were:

  • 62.84% on Saturday, Nov. 28
  • 62.68% on Sunday, Nov. 29
  • 60.09% on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26
  • 57.90% on Black Friday, Nov. 27
  • 50.37% on Cyber Monday, Nov. 30

“Customizing a transaction to the type of device a consumer is using contributes immensely to providing a smooth customer

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Going wild? A radical green plan for Nottingham’s unloved shopping centre

An empty 1970s shopping centre in Nottingham could be transformed into wetlands, pocket woodlands and a wildflower meadow as part of a post-pandemic urban rewilding project.

The debate about Broadmarsh shopping centre, considered an eyesore by many, has rumbled on for years. This year it was undergoing a £86m revamp by real estate investment trust Intu when the firm went into administration.

The number of empty shops on UK high streets has risen to its highest level in six years, and as retail giants such as Debenhams and Arcadia Group falter, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has come up with a new model of inner city regeneration: urban rewilding.

The trust wants to bulldoze the already half-demolished Broadmarsh building and turn it into 2.5 hectares (6 acres) of scruffy green space at an estimated cost of £3-4m. The designs were created with Influence Landscape Architects and could set a precedent for what to do with the growing amount of vacant retail space in other cities. “It’s unbelievable to hear that stores like Debenhams are in the position they are in – they’re stalwarts of the city, but it does put out an opportunity,” said Sara Boland, managing director of Influence.

Ponds surrounded by reeds, crocus meadows and wet grasslands would attract butterflies, dragonflies and a range of birds including reed warblers and black redstarts, according to the Wildlife Trust, which is calling on people to back its green vision. It will put its plans to Nottingham city council in the coming weeks as the authority canvasses views on what Broadmarsh could become as part of a 10-week consultation process.

The proposed scheme would run counter to the conventional idea of urban parks and instead hark back to what Broadmarsh would have looked like in centuries gone by. “Often open spaces in cities can be manicured and a bit formal,” said Boland. “The idea of this was to have more rewilding, restoring, protecting – this kind of connectivity, so the zones we then developed were about foraging, pond dipping and protecting species.”

Nineteenth-century maps helped architects get a clear picture of what this part of Nottinghamshire once looked like – a fertile garden area covered in fruit trees. Old street names include Pear Street and Peach Street; those fruits would be grown in the park to reflect its heritage. Crisscrossing the park would be walkways based on centuries-old street layouts.

Nottingham Wildlife Trust has long wanted to create green corridors in this area of the city to connect it to Sherwood Forest to the north. It has put up nest boxes on many buildings close to Broadmarsh to encourage black redstarts, which used to live in the city but are now rarely seen.

Related: ‘It’s going to be our way now’: the guerrilla rewilder shaking up British farming

“We’ve actually spent quite a bit of time over the past 20 or 30 years looking at various redevelopment proposals for this part of the city and for the Broadmarsh centre. We’ve submitted ideas

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UPS limits some large retailers to pace itself as pandemic shopping surge tests capacity

United Parcel Service (UPS) is limiting shipping capacity for some large retailers as online shopping balloons in tandem with the coronavirus pandemic.

The shipping giant informed its drivers on Cyber Monday to stop picking up from six large retailers – Nike, Gap, L.L. Bean, Hot Topic, Newegg and Macy’s – as the volume of orders threatened to exceed capacity, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an internal email sent to drivers across the U.S.



a truck parked on the side of a road: A UPS driver prepares to deliver packages.


© Patrick Semansky
A UPS driver prepares to deliver packages.

A UPS driver prepares to deliver packages. (Patrick Semansky /)

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The caps will run throughout the holiday season, reported CNN.

It comes amid a 44% jump in online shopping in just one five-day span including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing the National Retail Federation.

Both those big shopping days saw record online spending, while customers for the most part eschewed brick-and-mortar outlets. And consumers are also stocking up with regular household goods as they prepare to hunker down for a pandemic winter without going out to the store, the Journal said.

“UPS continues to work closely with our largest customers to steer volume to capacity and ensure the UPS network is reliable for all customers,” UPS said in a statement cited by MassLive. “This collaboration includes specific capacity allocations last weekend and throughout the holiday season. We’ve worked with our large retail customers to ensure they are aware of how much capacity is available to them.”

“Knowing the unique constraints the industry is facing this peak season, we worked with our carriers early on to collectively build a strategic plan of execution,” Gap told CNN. “We have been very satisfied with the level of partnership and commitment we have received from our carrier base, and especially that of UPS, and expect that to continue through the holiday season.”

UPS and FedEx were already scrambling to obtain enough vans for deliveries, Bloomberg reported Monday. While it wasn’t hampering delivery times, it was driving up costs, Bloomberg said.

UPS has grown its number of facilities by 20, and obtained 14 additional aircraft during this peak season, CNN said, plus expanded weekend operations and ground delivery speed.

The restrictions are temporary and designed so that UPS can pace itself without having merchandise get backed up and clog the system, CNBC reported.

“We’ve worked with our large retail customers to ensure they are aware of how much capacity is available to them,” UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara told CNBC on Wednesday, adding that if demand surpasses the allocations, the company will “work with our larger customers to ensure the volume gets picked up and delivered as more capacity becomes available in our network.”

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Holiday online shopping surge tests UPS network

In a year when consumers have turned to online shopping more than ever, holiday purchases for delivery are already starting to test the shipping capacity at UPS.

Drivers for UPS — the world’s largest package-delivery company, based in the Atlanta metro — wrote in online forums this week that they were instructed not to pick up packages at some major retailers as e-commerce orders hit an all-time high Monday.

The shipping restrictions affected retailers including Macy’s, Gap, Nike, New Egg, L.L. Bean and Hot Topic, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Instead of visiting stores during the coronavirus pandemic, a growing number of customers are ordering goods online from stores, which then ship the goods to customers’ homes.

Consumers spent $34.4 billion from Thanksgiving through Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, according to an analysis by software firm Adobe. Monday was the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, according to Adobe.

UPS is trying to spread out shipments over peak and nonpeak times through a longer holiday shopping period to avoid big spikes in volume. It said it set “specific capacity allocations” last weekend and through the holiday season, and worked to ensure large retail customers “are aware of how much capacity is available to them.”

The shipping giant also said it wants to maintain reliability for other customers including small- and medium-size businesses, “which have been hit hardest during the pandemic and are also seeing an increase in holiday volume.”

An overloaded shipping network could mean delays for online shoppers waiting for their items to arrive. Industry observers have warned that this year more than ever, consumers should order items early to ensure they are delivered in time for the holidays, or arrange to order online and pick up items at stores.

UPS spends much of the year preparing for the peak holiday season, including settings plans with some of the nation’s largest retailers on how much they will ship and when.

UPS also imposed higher holiday shipping surcharges on some of the biggest retailers this year to cope with rising costs and deter retailers from putting in a surge of orders at one time.

The shipper said it has added 20 facilities and 14 planes for the peak holiday season, and is hiring more than 100,000 temporary workers.

E-commerce behemoth Amazon also has been hiring more workers and is encouraging customers to consider consolidating their deliveries or having items delivered to Amazon Hub pickup locations.

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Online shopping was a huge success during Cyber Week

The big picture: Online shopping was already trending north before Covid-19 but the pandemic certainly expedited growth this year, despite the ongoing uncertainty that millions continue to face as it relates to income and maintaining a job during these unprecedented times.

According to data from Adobe Analytics, a record $10.8 billion was spent online in the US on Cyber Monday. That’s an increase of 15.1 percent year over year, making December 1, 2020, the largest online shopping day in US history.

In 2019, US consumers spent $9.4 billion during Cyber Monday.

The “golden hours of retail” from 7 – 11 pm Pacific was single-handedly responsible for $2.7 billion in sales and during the peak hour between 8 – 9 pm Pacific, consumers were buying at a rate of $12 million per minute.

During this year’s Cyber Week, which runs from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, US shoppers spent a staggering $34.4 billion, representing a 20.7 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago. Unsurprisingly, more than 40 percent of spending took place on a smartphone during the five-day period.

Season-to-date spending (from November through Cyber Monday) now totals $106.5 billion, a 27.7 percent YoY increase. Adobe Analytics also show that US consumers crossed the $100 billion threshold nine days faster this year compared to 2019.

Image credit: Ailuj Art, Waraporn Wattanakul

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Retailers make safety preps for Christmas shopping season

DENVER (KDVR) — As the Christmas shopping season begins Denver Metro stores continue to ramp up their safety guidelines to help keep you safe.  

Many of them requiring you to wear a mask before you step inside. 

Big box stores and the largest sources of COVID-19 retail outbreaks in Colorado

The Problems Solvers have been checking with several stores to see how they plan to handle the Christmas Rush and keep you safe. In store after store the Problem Solvers found several large businesses posting warnings for customers to mask up. 

Jessica Nelson said, “It’s a little bit sad but I also feel safe.” 

At HomeGoods in Lakewood our Problem Solver Camera was not allowed in. But inside we saw a clerk at the entrance checking for masks.  

A HomeGoods spokesman told FOX31 the store is “enhancing cleaning regimens,” “limiting occupancy,” and “encouraging social distancing.”  

At Lowe’s our cameras were not allowed in the store either.  

In a statement, Lowe’s says one way it’s trying to keep shoppers safe is by offering free delivery for fresh trees. Lowe’s telling us stores are using a app to count customers and limit occupancy.  

Shopper Melissa Durfee said, “I love that they clean the carts for you. So, you don’t have to worry about when you grab your cart you go in and it’s clean.” 

Grocery Stores like Safeway offer sanitizing towels for carts and shields at registers. Inside the Problem Solvers found workers sanitizing carts. The store says its only allowing 50% capacity.  

Director of Public Affairs Kris Staaf said, “We’re looking at transactions during busy times. We’re counting how many people are in and out of store making sure we don’t have too many people in the store at any one given time.” 

In Westminster, small businesses at the Orchard Town Center have created an outdoor Christmas Village, where shoppers can stay safe. 

Kristiana Miller who co-owns a shop there called Whimsy Paint and Sip said the setting helps “enjoy the season and make it feel like Christmas in spite of the fact that things aren’t exactly the same right now.” 

Orchard Town Center has also set up multiple hand sanitizing stations around the property.  

Retailers are now hoping to avoid the usual last minute mad rush we’ve seen Christmas after Christmas.  

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Transformation Church buys shopping center for $20.5M

Transformation Church in the city of Bixby in Tulsa, Okla. | Facebook/Transformation Church

Less than two years after purchasing a building that formerly housed the SpiritBank Event Center in the city of Bixby in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for $10 million to become the new home of his thriving congregation, Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church has bought the entire retail center around it for $20.5 million.

According to Tulsa World, city data from Tulsa County property records show that Transformation Group Holdings Corporation, which lists Todd as president, purchased PostRock Plaza, formerly known as Regal Plaza at 10438 S. 82nd East Ave., from Moab Holdings Regal Plaza.

Post Rock Plaza has more than 34 businesses as tenants, according to News 6, and Todd said the church hopes to inject profits from their real estate investment into philanthropy.

“This has been an unbelievable journey for us,” Todd, whose church paid off the $10 million mortgage on his new church in six months, noted.

“There’s over 34 businesses that function out of this area, and we get the opportunity to have great relationships with them and see the future grow in this community,” the pastor continued. “We wanted this to be an investment for the long term of our church, that we could be able to get revenue to bless our community.” 

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Michael Todd is lead pastor of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. | Facebook/Transformation Church

Rhonda Millet, a business tenant of the plaza who runs Oklahoma Hand and Physical therapy, said she was informed about the purchase on Monday. While she doesn’t foresee any impact the ownership change will have on her business, she was “excited” to see the “goodwill” of her new landlord.

“They’re going to do a lot of goodwill and the things we supply through paying our rent, I’m excited to see what they do,” Millet said to News 6.

Earlier this year, Bixby officials threatened to shut down Todd’s church after it received 32 noise violation citations based on complaints from neighbors for worshiping too loudly. 

Phil Frazier, the city’s attorney, said they had looked at three different ways to fix the problem, including the drastic step of shutting down the church or making a deal that would appease the community.

“You read the books of Matthew and Romans, it talks about loving your neighbor and your neighbor right and that’s what we’re asking them to do,” Frazier said in an earlier report.

It was noted that even when the building was named the SpiritBank Event Center in the late 2000s, there were many complaints about noise from it as well.

“When that noise comes on and you have a cup of coffee sitting on a counter in a neighbor’s house,

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