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The News Fix
The traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season felt different this year. Rather than waiting in long lines at big-box stores, many shoppers stayed home over the Thanksgiving weekend, scrolling through emails, apps and websites for deals. Black Friday in-store sales dropped 37% from last year, and with even record-breaking online sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, overall sales were down 14%.
Smart in a shot
Screenshot via Spotify
|It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Spotify users. This week, the music-streaming giant released its annual Wrapped feature, which mines each user’s listening patterns for the past year and presents top songs, artists and podcasts in a shareable “story” in its app. There’s just something special about an algorithm telling you what you like — Wrapped 2020 posts flooded social media.|
But the wrap on Spotify’s performance this year is mixed. While the Sweden-based service dominates the global streaming market, it continues to sacrifice profit for growth. The number of Spotify users and subscribers have each risen almost 30% year-over-year, but the company is still posting losses — about $120 million in the most recent quarter. At the same time, artists’ calls for the streamer to boost what it pays haven’t gone away.
The NumbersNew restrictions on bars and eateries are forcing restaurant owners to make difficult decisions. Let’s break it down.
$240 billionThat’s how much the U.S. restaurant industry could lose by the end of 2020, with an estimated 1 in 6 establishments closing and 3 million employees out of work. According to the National Restaurant Association, the food service industry was the second-largest private sector employer in the U.S. before the pandemic.
$120 billionIn October, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a targeted relief program, known as the RESTAURANTS Act, which would have provided funding to keep independent restaurants from closing. But federal lawmakers don’t appear to have included that provision in the latest $900 billion stimulus proposal, unveiled on Capitol Hill this week. Meanwhile, many state and local officials are asking bars and eateries to close down again as virus cases surge.
3At least three high-profile California politicians dined at restaurants shortly before recommending restrictions on the very kinds of gatherings they’d enjoyed. Gov. Gavin Newsom in particular faced criticism from constituents after attending a party in a partially enclosed dining room at Napa Valley’s French Laundry.
This week on the podcast
None of us is as smart as all of usTell us what’s making you smarter at email@example.com. We'd love to include your recommendation in a future newsletter.
A better economic story“Make Me Smart” host Molly Wood recommends this opinion piece in The New York Times arguing that higher wages can do more to stoke economic growth than tax cuts. “Consumption drives the American economy, and workers who are paid more can spend more,” the piece states.
Thinking differently than the majority of peopleListener William S. recommends the YouTube channel “Minority Mindset,” which offers a fresh spin on financial news and education. Says William: “I just love that young man. Give him a listen.”
Warning for beer lovers
Listener Melissa D. sent in this news item about Shelton Brothers, a popular U.S. importer of European beer, which could close down amid bankruptcy if the current owners can’t find a buyer. Shelton imports suds from more than 150 top global breweries and hosts a prestigious annual event called The Festival.
One last thing!
The “Make Me Smart” team is always looking for answers to the Make Me Smart question, “What is something you thought you knew, but later found out you were wrong about?” Send us a voice memo with your response and we might play it on the show. (Instructions for sending voice memos are here.)