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Retailers Adjust Black Friday Plans Due to Pandemic

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(Courtesy of Needpix.com)

This year, Black Friday has spread through parts of October and December to limit the rapid spread of COVID-19. Retailers are starting sales earlier and ending them later due to the pandemic. Companies are hoping these tactics will limit large crowds from coming together for the holidays.

What We Know:

  •  Retailers such as Walmart are offering extended sale days and relying heavily on online deals that will show on their website first and then will be in stores days later. They have expected an increase in customers using the curbside pickup option. Walmart has said they will have “Health Ambassadors” who will ensure customers are wearing a mask, social distancing is enforced, capacity control, and one-way lanes. Scott McCall, executive vice president, and chief merchandising officer for Walmart US, said in a release,

“By spreading deals out across multiple days and making our hottest deals available online, we expect the Black Friday experience in our stores will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our associates.”

  • Retailers are expecting online sales to be the main form of use. The Commerce Department mentioned the increase In online shopping before the pandemic. They also reported that in 2019 alone, shoppers spent more than $600 billion online, which increased by almost 15% compared to 2018.
  • Neil Sauders, a retail analyst, and managing director at GlobalData Retail, stated, “Black Friday has definitely transitioned more into a digital affair in the past five years…The focal point is not that single day anymore. It’s an event spread out over several days.”
  • As companies such as Best Buy, Lowes, Home Depot, and Target are creating effective and safer ways to enjoy Black Friday, delivery services are concerned with the high volumes of shipments. FedEx chief Marketing Officer Brie Carere mentioned how Covid-19 has” triggered such an increase in e-commerce since March that shipping volumes have consistently been at Christmas peak or Cyber Monday levels every day.

Delivery companies ask people to order items earlier to ensure they receive the packages in a reasonable amount of time. This pandemic has affected everyone worldwide, and retailers are implementing multiple forms of access to continue the joy of Black Friday sales.

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The European Commission Will Begin Antitrust Probe into Google’s Advertising Unit

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The European Commission believes Google favors its own display ad technology services. If the European Commission’s claims are true, this means Google breached antitrust rules.

What We Know:

  • The Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager announced her intentions in a tweet. The probe will investigate Google’s restrictions on accessing data about user identity and behavior; usually, Google places these limitations on advertisers, publishers, and other third parties.

  • The Commission will also investigate complaints on Google not allowing competitors to broker ad buys on YouTube. Furthermore, Officials will examine if the corporation blocks user-tracking technologies on their platforms.
  • Google quickly responded to the claims via email. A spokesperson for Google wrote that thousands of European businesses use Google’s advertising products daily for their competitiveness and effectiveness. In addition, the spokesperson declared the tech company would “engage constructively” with the European Commission to answer their questions.
  • This is Google’s second investigation in one month. On June 7, CNBC reported that the French completion authority fined the tech giant €220 million, or $268 million, for abusing its market power in the ad industry. Google chose to pay the fine and also revealed it would give publishers more choice and better results when using its platforms.
  • Additionally, the European Commission already found Google guilty of breaching antitrust rules in 2019. Officials determined that Google imposed restrive clauses in contracts with third-party websites. The limiting sections prevented Google’s competitors from placing search ads on these pages. As a result, the Commission made Google pay €1.49 billion, or $1.77 billion.
  • The Commission does not know when it will finish its investigation on the tech titan.

Alongside Google, the European Commission also placed fines and punished other corporations such as Facebook for violating antitrust laws over the years.

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The Supreme Court Unanimously Rules the NCAA Cannot Bar Education-Related Benefits, Says It Violates Federal Antitrust Laws

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The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) specifically ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cannot enforce limits on Division I basketball and football players’ college-offered educational benefits.

What We Know:

  • Current NCAA rules state that colleges cannot pay student-athletes. In addition, institutions must cap scholarship amounts to the cost of attendance. The association implemented these rules because officials felt that if they paid athletes, fans would begin to criticize the players’ amateur statuses. This, in turn, would result in fewer admirers.
  • However, SCOTUS rejected their claims; the Justices unanimously ruled that the NCAA cannot restrict relatively modest payments to their players based on amateurism. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court’s opinion, citing that doing so violates antitrust laws.

“The NCAA is not above the law,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

  • This case has been around for a while now. Last year, former players, including West Virginia football player Shawne Alston, sued the NCAA for their unfair laws. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco determined the collegiate association could not limit educational benefits. This decision permitted payments for things such as musical instruments, scientific equipment, postgraduate scholarships, tutoring, study abroad, academic awards, and internships.
  • Despite this, the appeals court did not allow the NCAA to provide athletes with a salary. Therefore, Alston and others took the case to SCOTUS.
  • The unanimous ruling did not directly imply if institutions can now compensate their players. Instead, Monday’s verdict permits those playing Division I men’s or women’s basketball or Bowl Subdivision football to receive cash/cash-equivalent awards based on their academics or graduation. Universities can now offer scholarships for students to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees. Students may also partake in paid internships once they complete their collegiate sports eligibility.
  • SCOTUS will not require schools to provide the benefits. Alongside this, conferences can impose prohibitions on the benefits if the member school chooses to. However, a conference cannot limit or prevent said assets.
  • With the new, multi-level, victory, the athletes feel ready to challenge other aspects of these rules. One lawyer, Steve Berman, already opened another case against the NCAA related to this one. He will ask for the courts to prevent the NCAA from maintaining rules that restrict the amount of name, image, and likeness (NIL) payments available to athletes.

Berman will also seek “unspecified damages” based on the share of television-rights money and social media earnings plaintiffs could have received if NIL compensation limits did not exist.

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Olympians Must ‘Avoid Unnecessary Forms of Contact’ During Games

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Athletes participating in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics must avoid anything that may provoke another COVID-19 wave across Japan, including engaging in sexual activities.

What We Know:

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) continuously emphasized last week that Olympic village citizens must observe social distancing guidelines. If someone does not obey the rules, they may face fines, disqualification, or deportation. After the information’s release, Japanese organizers began wondering if this meant they cannot distribute their 160,000 condoms throughout the village.
  • The issuing out of contraception became a tradition in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Officials wanted to motivate Olympians in the village to practice safe sex. Oftentimes, athletes tend to sleep with each other, or with natives.
  • Several companies and people expressed their concern over the new rules. Mountaineer Ken Noguchi said he “could not comprehend” why organizers can’t just hand out the condoms and ask the owners to “keep them under wraps”. Alongside this, four Japanese condom manufacturers expected to market their “specialty, ultra-thin” prophylactics; the contraceptives, made of polyurethane, are meant to heighten the pleasure of sex.
  • In light of the IOC’s declaration, Tokyo Olympics organizers stated they do not intend on passing out condoms for use inside the village. Rather, they want athletes to take the contraceptives home as a souvenir. Organizers claim that athletes can return to their nations and raise awareness on HIV and AIDS with the condoms.
  • The IOC’s warning stands despite the fact that 80% of Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be fully vaccinated by the time the games start on July 23. Additionally, officials placed extreme measures on athletes’ interactions outside of competitions. For example, although organizers intended on providing meals in “vast dining halls,” participants must now eat and sleep alone.

The IOC and Japan intend on minimizing any possible damage to the host country. Recently, Japan curbed its coronavirus rate and dropped restrictions. Japanese officials also ensured they will take precautions if numbers jump during the Olympics; this includes putting their state of emergency back into effect in the middle of the Games.

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