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19
Jan-18
Friday

New tax rules boost US economy

6
The Australian Financial Review noted that large US corporations started to move capital back to the US, post the introduction of the new tax rules.  Experts estimate that in excess of $3 trillion has been kept offshore.  Whether the repatriated cash will be invested in the US economy or distributed to shareholders, it will certainly boost the US economy.  

Myer continues to flounder

5
It was announced that Myer has restructured its management team and made 50 jobs redundant in the Head Office.  Myer’s CEO said the changes would help to “create a business that is more integrated across channels and better equipped to capitalise on the structural shifts” occurring across the retail environment.  We now wait to hear what specific measures Myer will adopt.  Cutting staff and replacing the CFO doesn’t seem to be helpful in the pursuit of these goals…
18
Jan-18
Thursday

AUD jumps over 80 US cents overnight

4
The Australian dollar jumped over 80 US cents overnight, mostly due to the weakening of the USD against most currencies.  Many factors impact the exchange rate, including commodity prices, interest rates within each of the compared countries, political upheavals and more.  We think that the best indicator of where currencies ultimately need to head can be obtained from The Economist’s BigMac index.  The latest index (published yesterday) indicates that AUD has been undervalued at least 10% when compared against the greenback.  According to the index, the British Pound is 18% undervalued and Euro about 9%.  The Canadian dollar is on par, while the Swiss Franc is at least 25% overvalued.  Interesting (BigMac) perspective indeed.
17
Jan-18
Wednesday

What is the perfect age?

4
The Wall Street Journal posed the question, if there is an ideal age when we feel our best? They spoke with researchers exploring the notion of a perfect age, measuring worry or stress levels at different times in our life and the peak years for having fun. The question had some surprising results: Many people in their 50s don’t want to be 30, 70-year-olds are among the most satisfied, and no one, regardless of age, wants to look or feel old, which is why anti-aging creams that promise to remove wrinkles and eye bags sell so well.
16
Jan-18
Tuesday

South Dakota seeks to overturn online tax ruling

4
The US state of South Dakota is seeking to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court decision regarding the collection of sales tax on online purchases. The 1992 decision says online sellers can only be required to collect sales tax in states where they have a physical presence.  The ruling was driven by the need to clarify tax rules for mail orders; no one expected the emergence of online commerce.  Clearly, Australia is not the only place with major consumer tax anomalies…
15
Jan-18
Monday

Luxury brands boom in Australia fuelled by Chinese shoppers

4
The South China Morning Post commented extensively about the luxury brands boom in Australia fuelled by Chinese shoppers, who account for about two thirds of all customers.  The brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Prada, are expanding their presence i.e. the half a billion dollar redevelopment of Chadstone in 2017 doubled its number of luxury brands to 38.  According to figures from IbisWorld, Australia’s luxury retail industry has grown at a rate of over 10 per cent per year from 2013.

Australian politicians encouraged to lower tax rates for large corporations

7
Wesfarmers, the owners of Coles and Bunnings, encouraged Australian politicians to lower tax rates for large corporations, not just smaller enterprises.  Wesfarmers' CEO, Rob Scott, cited Walmart increasing minimum pay from $9 to $11 per hour (in response to the recent US tax cuts) as an example of how lower corporate taxes can benefit workers and boost international competitiveness.
12
Jan-18
Friday

Retailers should leave politics to the media

7
The NRF commented about recent research, which indicates that two-thirds of consumers want retail brands to influence debate around political and social issues.  In our view, this is a rare example of when listening to your customers and fulfilling their wishes could destroy your business.  If a retailer decides to take a political stance within a divided community such as the US or Australia, they will end up losing some customers.  Better to stick to merchandising and logistics, leaving politics to the media.

Print advertising remains strong in the US

5
The National Retail Federation in the US reported that print advertising (catalogues) remains strong, growing substantially over the last few years - still in favour with supermarkets and retail chains.  Over US$70 billion was spent last year in the US on catalogues and direct mail.

Nordstrom continues to perform well

7
According to the Wall Street Journal, Nordstrom continues to perform well, defying the pattern displayed by other department stores.  Speculations resurfaced about possible privatisation of the company, after a 20% rise in the retailer’s share price.  Nordstrom is an excellent example of a brick and mortar retailer who mastered the ‘digital path to purchase’ model.  Their online sales are growing, but so are their over the counter sales.

Are digitally native brands the future?

5
The US magazine, Fast Company recently published an interview with Walmart’s e-commerce CEO (Marc Lore), who expressed a view that ‘digitally native brands are the future’ because brands, by their nature, rely fully on a direct connection to customers.  We think that Mr Lore’s view is quite dangerous, as it seems to assume that Walmart’s existing business is obsolete.  The role of the e-commerce team in a modern retail enterprise must be to expand the existing brands into the digital space, so they remain relevant.  E-commerce must be about the ‘digital path to purchase’ (any purchase) rather than mere selling online.