The U.S. Capitol building on Oct. 8.



Photo:

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News

Tuesday

U.S. consumer prices are expected to rise in September for a fourth consecutive month following a sharp drop at the height of pandemic lockdowns. The Covid-19 recession has scrambled prices for an array of goods and services, but overall inflation pressures are expected to remain muted, allowing the Federal Reserve to keep its easy-money policies in place.

The International Monetary Fund releases forecasts for global economic growth that are expected to show a less-severe contraction in 2020 than initially anticipated. The latest outlook report comes as finance ministers and central bankers gather virtually for the IMF and World Bank’s annual meetings, which are often catalysts for global responses to crises but are unlikely to spark unified action against the Covid-19 recession this year.

Thursday

U.S. jobless claims have remained stubbornly high in recent weeks, a sign layoffs are still elevated even as the overall economy adds jobs. Figures for the week ended Oct. 10 are expected to show a slight decline in new applications for benefits from the previous week—though not nearly enough of a drop to change the picture of continued economic disruption.

European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to take stock of Brexit negotiations. The EU and U.K. face a Dec. 31 deadline to finalize terms for the breakup or face new barriers to trade and heightened economic disruption. The sides remain at odds on issues including appropriate levels of state aid, fishing rights and new U.K. legislation that appears to breach terms of a withdrawal agreement.

Friday

U.S. retail sales are expected to advance in September for a fifth consecutive month, underscoring a strong rebound in consumer spending on goods. Another month

Laura Alber, president and CEO, Williams-Sonoma Inc.: Like everyone, it really caught us off guard. And the most important thing for us is the safety of our people. So we wanted to be thoughtful about what to do, and we spent a lot of time on that. Then of course you go into scenario planning. I lived through the recession in the ’90s here; I was president of the company. I watched us come out of that stronger than we went into it and gain market share. So I knew we needed to be aggressive and prioritize those things that would make a difference and cut those things that we could wait on. 

We were 56% e-commerce heading into the pandemic. So we were very fortunate that we were able to pivot quickly and capture the shift to digital. A couple years back, we had purchased a company called Outward that does 3-D room planning for us. So we didn’t just have a website, we had tools that we then used to help people who still wanted to buy for their home to envision what it would look like. Previous to Covid, we would go into people’s homes and do room planning with them. We now had to do that all virtually. It was amazing to watch our store associates pivot to doing digital design. We had the tools, and our associates were so innovative about how to use them. So we quickly saw our virtual design-chat pipeline of sales grow exponentially. 

Our mission has been to improve people’s lives at home. And that value colors not just what we sell, but how we sell things and how we source things and the company we are. It was probably a [one] week decision to decide what we were going to


Popshelf, Dollar General’s new $5-and-under retail outlet, is brushing aside any notion that brick-and-mortar chains are on the way out. In fact, analysts Adweek spoke with say the store concept comes at the right moment in these uncertain economic times.

The first two Popshelf stores will open outside of Nashville. Tenn., this fall. Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General plans to have approximately 30 Popshelf locations by the end of fiscal year 2021. A spokesperson declined to comment on additional markets. 

Focused on categories like décor, health, beauty, cleaning and entertaining, 95% of the items Popshelf carries will be priced at $5 or less with “a complement of extreme value items priced above $5.” Popshelf stores will be around 9,000 square feet, slightly larger than most dollar stores, but one-tenth the size of the average Walmart at 107,000 square feet.

This makes Popshelf a close retail parallel to Five Below, another value retailer that wants to help consumers “let go and have fun” with products priced mostly from $1 to $5. Those products exist in eight “worlds”: Tech, Create, Play, Candy, Room, Style, Party and New & Now. Founded in 2002, Five Below operates 950 stores in 38 states.

In its Q2 earnings announcement, Five Below president and CEO Joel Anderson noted a “challenging backdrop” that included Covid-related store closures earlier this year. The outlet has since reopened stores, added 63 new outlets and is still on track to open a total of 110 to 120 new locations in 2020.

Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali said Five Below’s product assortment of “affordable luxuries” has helped it do well in a challenging retail environment, making Popshelf a smart move for Dollar General.

“Dollar General is one of the retailers doing well now. I applaud their willingness to embrace new concepts,” Kodali said. “Real estate

(Bigstock Image)

GameStop announced today a multi-year strategic partnership agreement with Microsoft. Under the terms of the deal, GameStop is now an authorized dealer for the Xbox All Access program, which provides an Xbox console and a 24-month pass for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for no cost upfront.

The agreement further involves what GameStop refers to as a “transformation,” where its individual stores will upgrade to take advantage of Microsoft’s suite of business applications and portable devices.

Now, when you walk into a GameStop store, the sales associates will be equipped with Surface tablets for searching purposes, working with Microsoft Teams, and running the back end with Microsoft’s cloud-based Dynamics 365 suite of applications. In fact, by the terms of the deal as written in GameStop’s press release, it looks less like a partnership and more like Microsoft is sponsoring GameStop as one would a softball team.

“For many years GameStop has been a strong go-to market partner for our gaming products, and we are excited about continuing and evolving that relationship for the launch of the Xbox Series X|S,” Microsoft Xbox chief Phil Spencer said in a statement. “GameStop’s extensive store base, focus on digital transformation in an omni-channel environment and expert gamer associates remain an important part of our gaming ecosystem, and we’re pleased to elevate our partnership.”

The Xbox Series S, left, and the Xbox Series X. (Microsoft Photos)

News of the deal caused GameStop shares to jump 21%, which is enough to qualify this as the first good news that GameStop has received in quite some time. While GameStop is still the single largest video game retailer in the world, with more than 5,000 retail stores worldwide, it was seen as being on a downward spiral even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is,

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Oct 8 (Reuters)The Brazilian real traded lower on Thursday on continued worries about the country’s public finances, although a record reading on retails sales helped limit declines, while other Latin American currencies struggled for direction.

The real BRBY, BRL= edged 0.2% lower, as investors worried about a new fiscal package, known as Renda Cidada, overshooting the government’s spending limit after a volley of mixed information.

“The (Brazilian) government’s intention to create a new social welfare program poses additional risk to the trajectory

of the public accounts,” economists at Credit Suisse noted.

“Despite the government’s decision to revise the proposal after strong backlash, the source of funding for the new program remains uncertain. The main concern is the observance of the spending cap.”

Data from Latin America’s biggest economy provided some support to the currency after Brazilian retail sales rose to their highest on record in August, as economic activity continued to recover from the worst of the nationwide lockdown measures from earlier this year.

Mexico’s peso MXN= was mostly flat in volatile trading. Data showed Mexican inflation cooled to 4.01% in the year through September as consumer prices for energy dropped and food price rises were lower.

A recent Reuters poll showed that Latam currencies are set to remain weighed down this quarter by continuing fears about Brazil’s public finances and Mexico’s close link to U.S. politics before the November presidential vote.

However, Goldman Sachs said lighter investor positioning in emerging markets heading into the U.S. presidential election than before the 2016 vote, suggests “knee-jerk” reactions to the outcome may be contained.

Argentina’s peso ARS=RASL steadied after hitting a record low it hit in the previous session.

The currency was exposed to a fresh bout of selling pressure after the country’s central bank