Monday, July 31, 2017

The Long Christmas Season

How big a factor is Christmas when you are looking at manufacturing? It has been variously estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of U.S. discretionary consumer spending goes to Christmas purchases. Retailers have already placed orders for most of their Christmas-season merchandise with the holiday 147 days away. Manufacturing is approaching the halfway point, and shipments from Asia to ports in North America get going in earnest in August. When you take a detailed look at the logistics involved, the season could not be done much more quickly.

To look at the reach of Christmas another way, today in Pennsylvania I saw a pre-Christmas sale. The sale focuses on decorations left unsold last November rather than newly manufactured items, but it still serves to show how long the reach of Christmas is. If U.S. consumer culture changed so that consumers observed Christmas in a manner proportional to other holidays, it would require a massive adjustment in both U.S. retail and global manufacturing. It is hard to predict when such a shift might occur, but it is easy to see the early signs of it, with toy stores closing and other Christmas-leaning merchandise categories declining.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Investigators Look at Bus-Project Crowdfunding Platform

The bizarre-looking elevated bus project is dead. it was canceled weeks ago and city workers in Qunhuandao have removed most of the test tracks that the bus tried to run on. In canceling the project regulators said the bus never really worked, despite some almost-convincing video, and the idle prototype was causing traffic jams as drivers were forced to go around it. Now regulators are saying that the entire project and the crowdfunding platform that funded much of it might have been a scam. Huaying Kailai, a peer-to-peer lending company, was run by the same executive who was running the bus company. The lending company now appears to be out of business. The executive has been questioned by investigators, and law enforcement officials are asking investors to come forward with documents. (Story at CNNtech: