Sunday, December 13, 2009

US retail heats up


The US retail sales have shown sustained strength on their path to recovery. The retail sales have continued to increase the pace of growth for the past few months. Retail sales in the US in November 2009 were 1.3% than the observed in November 2008. Despite the increase, the retail sales volume is still far less than the observed in late 2007.

Paul Samuelson dead at 94

“In the old-fashioned laissez-faire economy, prosperity was indeed a fragile blossom”

One of the greatest economists of all times, Paul Samuelson, has died in Massachusetts. He was 94.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Construction gains ground in Canada

From Statistics Canada:

The value of building permits rose 18.0% in October to $6.1 billion. The increase was mainly a result of gains in the value of non-residential permits and in construction intentions for single-family dwellings.

Total value of permits

In the residential sector, the value of permits was up for a third consecutive month. Residential construction intentions climbed 3.8% to $3.4 billion. Ontario and Quebec accounted for much of the growth seen at the national level.

In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued permits worth $2.7 billion, up 42.4% following a 9.2% decline in September. All three components of non-residential construction permits increased in October.

The total value of building permits increased in six provinces, led by Alberta and Ontario.

Municipalities issued building permits worth $48.3 billion between January and October, 20.8% less than in the same period in 2008.

Non-residential sector: Gains in every component

Intentions increased in every component of the non-residential sector in October.

In the industrial component, the value of building permits doubled to $709 million. This was the third consecutive monthly increase, fuelled by higher construction intentions in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

After four monthly consecutive declines, the value of institutional building permits increased 50.9% to $904 million. The gain was largely attributable to educational institution projects in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and British Columbia. Ontario had an increase in the value of permits for medical buildings.

Cleaning up the environmental mess

It appears that China is the keenest of all to clean up the environmental mess. A survey by the World Resources Institute reveals that China is willing to spend the most for environmental protection.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Labour pains over, finally!

The latest figures for the payroll in Canada report an additional 79,000 employed in November. Compared to October 2009, the unemployment rate has declined slightly by .1% to 8.5%.

However, compared to the peak employment figures in October 2008, the number of employed was still 1.9% lower in November 2009.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The geography of iPhone

The brand appeal of iPhone suggests that the apple of Apple’s eye is a favourite of wealthier nations. A map of iPhone’s popularity suggests that it is most popular in North America, Europe, and other high-income countries.

Popularity of iPhone in a global context

Nokia, on the other hand, is more popular in the developing countries. Could the difference be explained by price? Since Nokia cell phones are much cheaper than the iPhone, Nokia is more affordable for the users in developing countries. Is iPhone a luxury item in the low-income countries?

Interest in Nokia mapped over globe

R-etailing all the way

This Christmas shopping season e-commerce has returned with a vengeance.  The brick and mortar retail sales have shown a slight increase in the recent past (at 1%), which led some analysts to call the Black Friday, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping rush, “Bleak Friday”. On the other hand, the Internet savvy consumers have been busy buying goods on the net. 

According to Forrester, online sales in the United States grew by 13% in 2008 for a total of $141 billion. Online sales are expected to grow by another 11% in 2009. This bodes well for retailers as well as for the express delivery service industry comprising of FedEx, UPS, Purolator, and thousands of other small sized courtiers.

The Economist magazine has recently reported that Internet based retail sales have recently jumped to 6% of all retail sales in the United States.  It is expected that by 2013 online sales will account for as high as 8% of all retail sales.  In 2008 alone, online sales totalled $60 billion in Europe and $40 billion in Asia.

The shopping channel in Canada is perhaps the leader in online retailing with almost 35% of total retail sales resulting from online orders.  The graph below presents daily visits to the shopping channels website.  Even though there has been a decline in the visits from a high of 20,000 in January 2009 to approximately 11,000 visits in October 2009, online sales continue to be important for the shopping channel where one in three sales are resulting from customers placing orders through the Internet.