Good news for the US! We have finally seen retail sales rise. Over the past 75 days, they’ve grown by 3%, even though we were expecting just above 2%. Considering we’re in a recession, that’s pretty good. For reference, 2008’s recession saw a drop in retail sales by 3.5% around this time of year. 

Steve Sadove, the senior advisor for Mastercard, said, “It’s a very healthy number that shows me the American consumer is highly resilient.”

They don’t call us Americans for nothing.

Not surprising, online sales were up by 49% compared to 2019 and e-commerce has taken the spending lead with every one in five dollars spent going towards online sales.

Furniture and housewares have risen 16% in sales, home improvement products are up 14%, but luxury apparel is down by 21%. (What, you mean no one’s wearing their Gucci while hammering shelves or sitting on the couch watching Netflix?)

Unfortunately, department stores, which we’ve seen hang on by a thread this year, had a 10% drop in sales. One of the only hopes that remain are gift card sales, which will be recorded when people start shopping with them. There probably won’t be as many end of year promotions from retailers because of their low inventory and the major markdowns they’ve been handing out all year.

Where do you see retail headed in 2021? Hit reply and let us know!

Counting Thousands, Making Millions

Dropping out of college to accomplish making a viral video doesn’t sound like the best idea. Jimmy Donaldson didn’t care though. He’d been posting videos to YouTube since the age of 12 and wasn’t gaining an audience *womp womp*. He, like many other entrepreneurs and teenagers, was obsessed with figuring out WTH YouTube’s secret algorithm really was and how to beat it. 

What makes a video worthy of a recommendation to viewers? What are these secret set of rules YouTube follows? Jimmy and his friends spent months trying to figure it out. Literally, they had daily phone calls to analyze their findings, did YouTube “homework assignments”, and stalked successful YouTubers to figure out the data on the latest, most successful posts.

Jimmy got an idea for a video one day of sitting in a chair (just wait for it) and spending 40 hours counting from zero to 100,000. He ended the video with a lovely, “What am I doing with my life?”

The video got 21 million views and now, “MrBeast” has 48 million subscribers. Jimmy was named Creator of the Year for the Streamy Awards this December (aka the Oscars of YouTube). Jimmy’s done so well for himself that last year, every single video he posted had over 20 million views. The consistency isn’t anything like other YouTubers have seen before.

This has been his dream since he was 12 and he finally accomplished it. Jimmy learned, though, that once you make a video viral, you have the opportunity to create that again and again and again, all the while making thousands of dollars. He invests most of his money back into his business, with his average video costing around $300,000. 

Even if it seems ridiculous for the vertical you’re in, getting millions of eyes on your content and raking in the dough for it could be powerful for your business.

Shoe Shiners Are Suffering

Sure, we’ve heard how the pandemic has impacted retail and many major industries, some in a positive way, some in a negative one. But shoes? Not something anyone is talking about… or wearing much of lately. Are you still “dressing for work” at home? Maybe the top half of you does, but when it comes to shoes, not so much. Those loafers, boots and heels are collecting dust.

Shining shoes and repairing shoes used to be good business for someone like David Yushubayev, who’s worked for 35 years at Markell’s Shoe Repair in NYC. He’s still hanging on to plenty of shoes, waiting for customers (mostly office workers) to come to pick them up. David has still been coming to his office waiting for his clients to go back to theirs. Even David’s son, who typically manages Markell’s, took another job at a salon just to make ends meet.

Eddie’s Shoe Repair, which is located right next to the Rockefeller Center, is having the same problem. Having a nonstop stream of customers waiting to get their shoes shined before returning to work was no problem for Eddie’s. A New York City staple, the business has been featured in The New York Times, BBC and Italian GQ. When Hugo Ardaix, Eddie’s owner, reopened in August, they only made $35 their first week. That was a 95% decline in business.

Eddie’s Shoe Repair and small businesses like Hugo’s are desperately holding on by a thread, hoping for relief or business to come back to life. Rent cancellation, payroll protection and cash assistance is all top of mind. Don’t even suggest raising prices. Teodor Morcho, who owns a repair and shine store called Anthony’s, tried that and customers were furious. 

Do you think companies like this will survive much longer? Hit reply and tell us your forecast.

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