Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of September 20, 2021.
Summertime spending. Signaling a possible improvement for the economy, retail sales beat expectations in August, increasing 0.7% last month, after falling 1.8% in July. Economists polled by Reuters predicted that sales would fall 0.8%. Retail sales have increased 15.1% compared to the same period a year ago. August sales were reportedly bolstered by an increase in online shopping. Online retail sales increased 5.3% after dipping 4.6% in July. Meanwhile, car sales fell 3.6% in August, following a 4.6% decline in July. These latest numbers could improve the overall economic outlook for the third quarter of 2021.
- The takeaway: The improvement in retail sales is thought to be the result of back-to-school shopping and the child tax credit. The back-to-school shopping season begins in August when most school districts kick off the new year. Additionally, families who qualify for the advanced child tax credit began receiving that extra income in July, potentially giving consumers more money to spend on retail. Those who qualify for the credit can receive half of the benefits as monthly payments, and the other half after filing their tax returns for 2021. Those monthly payments reportedly are $250 per child between six and 17, and $300 per child under 6.
Lawsuit straight to your door. Food delivery service DoorDash is suing New York City over a law that would require food delivery companies to share data about their customers with restaurants. The law, which is supposed to go into effect in December, 2021, is reportedly an attempt to give restaurants more insight into delivery apps, and would require them to share data including customer names, phone numbers, emails, and delivery addresses with restaurants. But services like DoorDash argue that the law is an invasion of consumer privacy and that it would give restaurants access to trade secrets that would make it possible for restaurants to compete with delivery services. DoorDash, which has the biggest market share of all the food delivery apps, also joined forces with Grubhub and Uber to sue New York over a separate law that would restrict what delivery services can charge restaurants for using the services.
- The takeaway: Increasingly, state governments are attempting to regulate the food delivery industry, which has taken off during the Covid-19 pandemic as restaurants temporarily closed their doors. Both San Francisco and New York have limited what delivery services were allowed to charge restaurants for delivery service when the pandemic began, but the services reportedly expected those restrictions would eventually ease. Regulation is expected to make it more difficult for these businesses, which have grappled with big losses, to become profitable. For their part, restaurants have reportedly struggled to reduce their reliance on food delivery apps.
France Fumé. To the disgruntlement of France, the United States and the United Kingdom sealed a deal with Australia to provide the country with nuclear-powered submarines that it can keep in waters near China. The deal will thwart a $65.7 USD billion agreement between France and Australia, in which France would have provided Australia with 12 diesel-powered submarines. France’s top diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian panned the deal, calling it a stab in the back to France.
- The takeaway: The deal is a financial win for the U.S., and it is also meant to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Australia. The alliance could also increase tensions between the U.S. and China. The submarines that the U.S. will send to Australia are reportedly more difficult to detect than traditional ones, which will aid Australia in defense against China. However, the news appears to be causing a rift between the U.S. and France, as France avoids engaging in conflict with China.
Lucky 13. Apple announced its new lineup of products last week, including new iPhones, iPads, and watches. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini, which are similar in look to the last generation of iPhones, will now come in pink, blue, midnight, starlight, and red. The new phones will have an A15 Bionic chip as well as a 4-core graphics-processing unit, or GPU, both of which could improve performance, according to Apple. The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max will have bigger batteries that last 1.5 and 2.5 hours longer than the last generation’s batteries, respectively.
- The takeaway: The new lineup was announced days after Apple deployed a fix for a security hole that allowed hackers to get access to iPhones and other Apple devices without any action from the device’s owner. A spyware group out of Israel known as NSO Group reportedly exploited the weakness to get into the phone of a Saudi Arabian activist. The lineup also comes after a judge ruled that Apple was engaging in “anti-competitive” practices by requiring app transactions on Apple devices to be conducted through the App store. In August, Apple settled a class-action lawsuit filed by U.S. app developers over how the company charges to use its App Store.
Here’s what we covered in last week’s Scan:
- The Biden administration announced a plan to ramp up solar energy production.
- China introduced a new stock exchange out of Beijing.
- Amazon said it will start paying for college costs of employees.
- Facebook partnered with Ray-Ban to create smart glasses.