Tuesday, October 26News That Matters

Tag: Consumer Behavior

Chip Shortage Makes Big Dent in Automakers’ U.S. Sales

Business
Four of the biggest sellers of cars and trucks in the United States said Friday that their sales had plunged recently, reflecting the intense squeeze that a global semiconductor shortage has put on auto production.General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Stellantis reported significant declines in sales in the three months that ended in September — in G.M.’s case, a drop of one-third from a year earlier — as chip shortages forced them to idle plants, leaving dealers with few vehicles to offer customers.Toyota had a slight increase for the quarter, but its sales in September fell sharply after it was forced to slash global production because of the chip shortage and other disruptions to its parts supplies stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.“We are in uncharted waters,” said Alan Haig, presiden...
Finding Memories in Reused Food Containers Like Cool Whip

Finding Memories in Reused Food Containers Like Cool Whip

LifeStyle
It was a tweet heard round the internet. Two images, side by side: two regal blue Royal Dansk tins, filled with sugar-studded butter cookies slotted in white wrappers, next to an identical tin with a much less enticing assortment of buttons and thread. Written beneath the first image, “My fall plans.” Under the second, “The Delta variant.”The tweet in August, which followed a popular meme about pandemic disappointment, drew more than half a million likes and 75,000 retweets. Its author, the film critic Carlos Aguilar, was surprised to find that he had hit on a seemingly universal experience: the repurposing of a Royal Dansk tin as a sewing kit, and the dismay of all of the children who’ve opened one.“This thing that I thought was a very niche and specific to being Latin and being Mexican t...
Change May Be Coming to Your Favorite Wines

Change May Be Coming to Your Favorite Wines

Business
“We’re seeing a broader selection of very interesting wines because of this warming,” said Dave Parker, founder and chief executive of the Benchmark Wine Group, a large retailer of vintage wines. “We’re seeing regions that historically were not that highly thought of now producing some excellent wines. The U.K., Oregon, New Zealand or Austria may have been marginal before but they’re producing great wines now. It’s kind of an exciting time if you’re a wine lover.”The rising temperatures have certainly hurt some winemakers, but in some wine-growing areas the heat has been a boon for vineyards and the drinkers who covet their wine. Mr. Parker said growing conditions for sought-after vintages in Bordeaux used to come less frequently and sometimes only once every decade: 1945, 1947, 1961, 1982...
The Economy Is Booming but Far From Normal, Posing a Challenge for Biden

The Economy Is Booming but Far From Normal, Posing a Challenge for Biden

Business
The American economy is growing at its fastest clip in a quarter-century, yet it remains far from normal, with some workers and small-business owners facing increasingly tough times while others thrive. That divergence poses a challenge to President Biden, who has promoted the nation’s economic recovery as a selling point in his quest to win support for a multitrillion-dollar spending agenda that could cement his legacy. A summer that many business owners and consumers had hoped would bring a return to prepandemic activity has delivered waves of disappointment in key areas. Restaurants are short on staff and long on wait times. Prices have spiked for food, gasoline and many services. Shoppers are struggling to find used cars. Retailers are struggling to hire. Beach towns are jammed with to...
Electric Cars for Everyone? Not Unless They Get Cheaper.

Electric Cars for Everyone? Not Unless They Get Cheaper.

Technology
The people here are not Hollywood stars or billionaire tech entrepreneurs who might own Ferraris and private jets. But they are well off. The median household income in the area exceeds $165,000, and half the homes are valued at more than $1 million. Eight in 10 residents have at least an undergraduate degree. As early buyers with high incomes, they can easily take advantage of the federal E.V. tax credit.The incentives are, in effect, “subsidizing my luxury,” said Mr. Teglia, who also has solar panels on his home. The Model 3s he owns sell for about $40,000 before government incentives.Dr. Jack Hsiao, an obstetrician-gynecologist, had avoided buying an electric vehicle for fear that he wouldn’t be able to drive very far before having to plug in — a phenomenon known as range anxiety. But h...
U.S. Economy Grew 1.6% in Second Quarter

U.S. Economy Grew 1.6% in Second Quarter

Business
Now a new threat is emerging in the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, which has caused cases to soar in much of the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in some areas, and some mayors and governors have reimposed mask mandates.Few economists expect a return to widespread business shutdowns or stay-at-home orders. But if the resurgent virus leads to renewed caution among consumers — a reluctance to dine at restaurants, hesitation about booking a late-summer getaway — that could weaken the recovery at a crucial moment.“The reason that is concerning is that this burst of activity around reopening has been driving the economy the past couple months,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S...
Covid Variant Adds to Worker Anxieties

Covid Variant Adds to Worker Anxieties

Business
For much of the pandemic, Amazon has offered free on-site Covid testing for employees. It incorporated a variety of design features into warehouses to promote social distancing. But a worker at an Amazon warehouse in Oregon, who did not want to be named for fear of retribution, said there had been a gradual reduction in safety features, like the removal of physical barriers to enforce social distancing.Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokeswoman, said that the company had removed barriers in some parts of warehouses where workers don’t spend much time in proximity, but that it had kept up distancing measures in other areas, like break rooms.“We’re continuously evaluating the temporary measures we implemented in response to Covid-19 and making adjustments in alignment with public health authority g...
QR Codes Are Here to Stay. So Is the Tracking They Allow.

QR Codes Are Here to Stay. So Is the Tracking They Allow.

Technology
SAN FRANCISCO — When people enter Teeth, a bar in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, the bouncer gives them options. They can order food and drinks at the bar, he says, or they can order via a QR code.Each table at Teeth has a card emblazoned with the code, a pixelated black-and-white square. Customers simply scan it with their phone camera to open a website for the online menu. Then they can input their credit card information to pay, all without touching a paper menu or interacting with a server.A scene like this was a rarity 18 months ago, but not anymore. “In 13 years of bar ownership in San Francisco, I’ve never seen a sea change like this that brought the majority of customers into a new behavior so quickly,” said Ben Bleiman, Teeth’s owner.QR codes — essentially a kind of bar cod...
Airlines See a Surge in Domestic Flights, Beating Forecasts

Airlines See a Surge in Domestic Flights, Beating Forecasts

Business
The aviation recovery is gaining momentum.A summer travel bonanza is exceeding expectations, helping airlines earn profits again and brightening the outlook for the rest of the year. It’s a welcome relief for a battered industry and a sign that the rebound that began this spring appears to be here to stay.The economic upturn, aggressive cost-cutting and an enormous federal stimulus that paid many salaries have helped to improve the finances of the largest carriers, which took on vast amounts of debt and lost billions of dollars during the pandemic.This month, consumer spending on airlines briefly exceeded 2019 levels on a weekly basis for the first time since the pandemic began, according to Facteus, a research firm that monitors millions of online payments. Ticket prices have rebound...
China’s Growth Slows as Pandemic Fears Persist

China’s Growth Slows as Pandemic Fears Persist

Business
BEIJING — After a year of leading the global economy out of the pandemic slump, China’s growth is now starting to level off, as the world tries to assess whether the country’s recovery will continue or peter out.The signs are mixed, with consumers and companies showing signs of both weakness and strength. The rising cost of raw materials is eating into the profits of factories and retailers, while exports remain strong. People are shopping more, but small businesses are suffering. Inflation is starting to make a comeback, muddying the data. And the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic weighs over it all. “It is unclear whether such a strong rebound in China and around the world can sustain itself in 2022,” said Zhu Ning, deputy dean of the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance.China report...