In the pandemic, ‘women’s work’ is critical care

To the list of groups disproportionately harmed by the coronavirus pandemic — health care workers, nursing home residents, the poor, people of color — we must now add another: women.



a hand holding a small piece of food: Sara Adelman holds her daughter Amelia's hand at their home in Salt Lake City in May. Adelman was burning through her vacation time to help manage her current status as a working-from-home mom since her daughter's day care closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.


© Rick Bowmer
Sara Adelman holds her daughter Amelia’s hand at their home in Salt Lake City in May. Adelman was burning through her vacation time to help manage her current status as a working-from-home mom since her daughter’s day care closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although COVID-19 is not necessarily more contagious or deadly for women than for men, it is women who have borne the greater economic burden. They tend to be employed in the sectors hollowed out by the pandemic: education, hospitality, retail. And they are chiefly responsible for caregiving, whether of children now home from school or elderly relatives needing support in the pandemic. In September, more than 860,000 women dropped out of the US labor force, four times the number of men. Is it any surprise the retreat coincided with the start of a new school year?


COVID-19 is forcing women out of the workforce. Transparency and openness is the only way forward

One in four women is considering leaving the workforce due to the pandemic, and for the 40 percent who are the sole or primary breadwinner in their families (70 percent for Black women), it is not a casual choice. Taking a break from the labor market aggravates the wage gap even for career professional women; many lower-income workers lose their jobs altogether, launching a downward spiral of debt, hunger, and eviction.

Affordable, accessible, high-quality child care could spell the difference for millions of women between economic stability and this cascade of woes. Unfortunately, it’s harder to find than bipartisan comity in Washington. “We have a systemic problem of devaluing the role of women in the economy,” said Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts in an interview, “and the plight of the child-care industry is a symptom of that problem.”

Day care, already in short supply, becomes scarcer during the pandemic

The US Department of Health and Human Services defines “affordable” child care as costing no more than 7 percent of a family’s income. In Massachusetts, according to the Economic Policy Institute, day care for a 4-year-old costs on average $15,095 a year, which is 16 percent of median income even in this high-wage state. And it’s certainly not the (overwhelmingly female) workers who are getting rich on this expensive service; the median wage for a child-care worker in Massachusetts is $27,680. Despite the many political paeans to the sanctity of the family, society still sees child care as a private responsibility, not a public good.

It was not always thus. During World War II, when Rosie and her sister riveters were recruited into the labor force, the US government developed heavily-subsidized “emergency nurseries” targeted to communities engaged in defense production. But President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and many working mothers, remained ambivalent about outsourcing the care of children, and when the war

Read more

UPS limits some large retailers to pace itself as pandemic shopping surge tests capacity

United Parcel Service (UPS) is limiting shipping capacity for some large retailers as online shopping balloons in tandem with the coronavirus pandemic.

The shipping giant informed its drivers on Cyber Monday to stop picking up from six large retailers – Nike, Gap, L.L. Bean, Hot Topic, Newegg and Macy’s – as the volume of orders threatened to exceed capacity, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an internal email sent to drivers across the U.S.



a truck parked on the side of a road: A UPS driver prepares to deliver packages.


© Patrick Semansky
A UPS driver prepares to deliver packages.

A UPS driver prepares to deliver packages. (Patrick Semansky /)

The caps will run throughout the holiday season, reported CNN.

It comes amid a 44% jump in online shopping in just one five-day span including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing the National Retail Federation.

Video: Kroger CEO: Customers that engage with us on digital continue to enjoy coming into the store (CNBC)

Kroger CEO: Customers that engage with us on digital continue to enjoy coming into the store

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

Both those big shopping days saw record online spending, while customers for the most part eschewed brick-and-mortar outlets. And consumers are also stocking up with regular household goods as they prepare to hunker down for a pandemic winter without going out to the store, the Journal said.

Loading...

Load Error

“UPS continues to work closely with our largest customers to steer volume to capacity and ensure the UPS network is reliable for all customers,” UPS said in a statement cited by MassLive. “This collaboration includes specific capacity allocations last weekend and throughout the holiday season. We’ve worked with our large retail customers to ensure they are aware of how much capacity is available to them.”

“Knowing the unique constraints the industry is facing this peak season, we worked with our carriers early on to collectively build a strategic plan of execution,” Gap told CNN. “We have been very satisfied with the level of partnership and commitment we have received from our carrier base, and especially that of UPS, and expect that to continue through the holiday season.”

UPS and FedEx were already scrambling to obtain enough vans for deliveries, Bloomberg reported Monday. While it wasn’t hampering delivery times, it was driving up costs, Bloomberg said.

UPS has grown its number of facilities by 20, and obtained 14 additional aircraft during this peak season, CNN said, plus expanded weekend operations and ground delivery speed.

The restrictions are temporary and designed so that UPS can pace itself without having merchandise get backed up and clog the system, CNBC reported.

“We’ve worked with our large retail customers to ensure they are aware of how much capacity is available to them,” UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara told CNBC on Wednesday, adding that if demand surpasses the allocations, the company will “work with our larger customers to ensure the volume gets picked up and delivered as more capacity becomes available in our network.”

Continue Reading
Read more

Too many women are leaving the workforce during the pandemic. It’s time for men to lean in and help

Men who thought the COVID-19 “she-cession” was misnamed should take a look at the recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. After disproportionately losing jobs during the early shutdown, women are now leaving the workforce at nearly four times the rate of men.



a hand holding a piece of paper: A person holds a flier for a job fair. Pandemic job losses have significantly affected women; men need to step up as allies for women in the workplace. (Associated Press)


© (Associated Press)
A person holds a flier for a job fair. Pandemic job losses have significantly affected women; men need to step up as allies for women in the workplace. (Associated Press)

With so many women laid off, sidelined or stepping away to manage remote schooling or care for their families, men have to stand up as allies to ensure that gender equality in the workplace isn’t set back a generation.

Loading...

Load Error

The corrosive effect of this downturn is already evident. The wage gap is widening toward where it was nearly 20 years ago by some economists’ estimates. Men, meanwhile, are 2.3 times more likely than women to say that working from home during the pandemic has been positive for their careers.

These are not “women’s issues.” These are issues that demand men play a role in disrupting the status quo. We have spent the last seven years researching how men can effectively promote gender fairness at work. We often find that men believe in gender equality but are missing when it comes to taking action. And there are evidence-based strategies that men can employ now to advocate for women in their workplace.

First, men need to proclaim their own family priorities. For too long, men have been reluctant to leave work loudly when they have obligations such as parent-teacher conferences or a sick child at home. Slinking out the side door instead of being public about where they’re going and why is a missed opportunity to level the playing field for women and embolden other men.

Men need to be transparent at work about family responsibilities, including taking full parental leave, sick leave and requesting flextime arrangements that support their partner’s career and household demands. When men publicly embrace these benefits, they destigmatize the domestic work that is linked to a motherhood penalty for women.

Additionally, men need to dedicate time for mentorship in the virtual workspace. Remote work could remain the norm for months to come. That puts women at higher risk of becoming invisible. Men should check in with the women they mentor and reach out to help female colleagues whose mentors may have voluntarily or involuntarily left the workplace, leaving them without a coach or advisor. These offers should also go to women who may not yet have established any mentorships.

In all cases, men should contextualize their motivation for a mentoring check-in. This includes affirming strong job performance and offering an open door for career conversations and advice about advancement tracks at their company. Additionally, men mentoring women need to listen and validate their colleagues’ challenges and concerns.

Men can also support female colleagues by championing flexible work. During the pandemic, more leaders have observed the benefits of

Read more

Buy now, pay later? Layaway apps see triple-digit growth amid pandemic shopping

Some of the country’s biggest retailers are resurrecting a modern version of a long-retired payment option similar to layaway or rent-to-pay — buy now, pay later.

With over 11 million people still unemployed due to the pandemic, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Target and Amazon are some of the hundreds of retailers who are offering shoppers a way to parse out interest-free payments debited from a bank account over time for holiday gifts instead of forcing consumers to pay with high-interest credit cards.

“The millennials and Gen Z generation saw their parents go through an immense amount of hardship [during the financial crisis] where the American consumer was over-leveraged,” Rafe Petkovic, chief revenue officer of Columbus, Ohio-based payment solutions company Klarna, told NBC News. “Today’s consumers are certainly wising up, and that has been a significant acceleration in the market opportunity here today.”

Already, consumers have used their money differently from the generation that survived the Great Recession. In the first three months of 2020, consumers improved their average credit scores and decreased delinquencies across all debt, according to a September analysis by Experian credit-reporting agency. However, in 2008, going into the recession, consumer debt spiked by 4 percent, credit scores went up by just two points and delinquencies were reduced at a slower rate than today’s borrowers.

Over Black Friday weekend, one company said it processed five times more transactions than in its first four years of operation combined.

“Though the current recession’s initial three months of consumer debt and credit data paint a positive picture of consumer finances, unemployment has spiked to historic highs in 2020,” the bureau reported. “As income declines and stimulus aid continues to lapse, consumers’ finances may change as people seek ways to cover their expenses.”

Before the pandemic, the digitally native younger generations were already quickly adopting “point-of-sale” loans from companies such as Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna and Quadpay. But over the course of the pandemic-induced recession, these payment options have skyrocketed with the rise in e-commerce and the willingness of retailers to work with customers, David Bassuk, a managing director with AlixPartners, told NBC News.

Consumer downloads of Klarna are up over 106 percent from last year, Petkovic said. In the first month of the pandemic, Affirm saw a 163 percent increase in home fitness sales, and home office sales grew 200 percent. Over Black Friday weekend, Afterpay said it saw a 186 percent increase in sales, while Klarna said it processed five times more transactions over the weekend than in all the first four years of operation combined.

“We think this is just the start of more disruption to come,” Petkovic told NBC News.

The loans work like this: Retailers pay a transaction fee on every sale, and shoppers pay their balance over time with their debit account. Affirm, which charges interest rates between 10 and 30 percent, report to one credit bureau. But Klarna, Quadpay and Afterpay do not. Each company charges a late payment fee that ranges from $35

Read more

Even in a Pandemic, Fine Jewelry Is Selling

CORONA DEL MAR, CALIF. — Conventional wisdom suggests that a pandemic would not bode well for jewelry sales. But for Mark Patterson, a fine jewelry designer with a retail store in this coastal Southern California enclave, 2020 has defied expectations at every turn. (And he’s not alone.)

“Wholesale is down — we haven’t done any trunk shows — but our retail store has doubled sales from last year,” Mr. Patterson said in late October. “It’s crazy. We don’t know how to explain it.”

Actually, he did. “Big diamonds,” he said.

Mr. Patterson described a recent sale to a local couple: “They had plans to travel for their 20th anniversary — Europe or maybe Australia — and their trip was canceled due to Covid, so they decided to upgrade her diamond engagement ring from one carat to four carats,” Mr. Patterson said. “They spent close to $55,000.”

“People are realizing, ‘Wow, life is short, why don’t we get married?’” said Edahn Golan, a diamond and jewelry industry analyst based in Israel. “It’s all about love, emotions, the fragility of life.”

Mr. Golan said that, in the United States, retail jewelry sales in March and April fell by $3.8 billion compared with the same period in 2019 — retail stores there were closed in these early days of the pandemic.

Once lockdowns eased in June, July and August, however, sales for that period grew by $1 billion year over year. Engagement ring sales led the charge, he said.

Couples who tied the knot this year cut down on “guests, food, flowers, party favors,” Mr. Golan said. “The one area where there’s the least tendency to compromise is on the bride’s jewelry because it’s long-lasting, and ‘I gave up on everything else, why should I give up on this?’”

If the crisis has spurred people with means to buy jewelry as an expression of love, it’s inspired those with even greater means to look at it through an age-old lens: as a tangible form of wealth.

Gary Schuler, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry department, saw that at the house’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva last month, where the 14.83-carat Spirit of the Rose, a fancy vivid purple-pink diamond, sold for $26.6 million, making it the most valuable jewel auctioned in 2020.

“People are looking for hard assets,” Mr. Schuler said. “We’re seeing it in these and other categories we sell at Sotheby’s: contemporary art, old master paintings.”

All of these factors help explain why sales of fine jewelry, pieces priced at less than $50,000, have performed better than most luxury categories, said Luca Solca, senior research analyst for global luxury goods at Bernstein.

“The only caveat is high jewelry, which has suffered from the lack of opportunities to present products to potential customers (normally,

Read more

Pandemic hits wages of women, lowest-paid hardest: ILO

BERLIN (Reuters) – Monthly wages fell or stagnated in many countries in the first six months of 2020, with the pandemic hitting lower-paid workers and women hardest, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday.



a group of people in a room: FILE PHOTO: Women work in a garment factory, as factories reopened after the government has eased the restrictions amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Dhaka


© Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
FILE PHOTO: Women work in a garment factory, as factories reopened after the government has eased the restrictions amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Dhaka



a group of people sitting at a table: FILE PHOTO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tarragona


© Reuters/Nacho Doce
FILE PHOTO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tarragona

    The crisis is “likely to inflict massive downward pressure on wages in the near future”, the U.N. agency said in a report.

While wages fell or grew more slowly in two-thirds of countries for which data was available, in the remaining third, a rise in wages was largely due to many lower-paid workers losing their jobs, skewing the average higher.

Gallery: What Happened When These Places Raised the Minimum Wage to $15 (GOBankingRates)

Without subsidies such as coronavirus furlough schemes, women would have lost 8.1% of their wages in the second quarter, compared with 5.4% for men, according to a sample of 28 European countries, the ILO report showed.

Those in lower-skilled jobs lost more working hours than higher-paying managerial and professional jobs, it said.

“The growth in inequality created by the COVID-19 crisis threatens a legacy of poverty and social and economic instability that would be devastating,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alison Williams)

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more

Debenhams and Topshop Fall, Pushed by Fast Fashion and Pandemic

LONDON — The British department store Debenhams can trace its history back 242 years to a shop on Wigmore Street in central London. On Tuesday, it finally succumbed to the pressures of 21st-century e-commerce. After more than a year of restructuring and several months of trying to find a buyer, the company said it would begin shutting down.

Debenhams is the second big retailer to topple in two days, after Arcadia Group, which owns brands including Topshop and Miss Selfridge, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday. The two are also linked because Arcadia’s brands have a big footprint in Debenhams, with sections set aside for their clothes.

And so, as Christmas lights flicker above the sidewalks in Britain’s downtowns and as the busiest shopping period of the year begins after a monthlong lockdown in England, the nation is watching two of its largest retailers fall. They have about 25,000 employees between them.

More bankruptcies are expected, as the lockdowns have relentlessly exposed the retailers that have failed to pick up on customers’ willingness to shop online.

“The retail house of cards on the high street is in danger of collapse,” said Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Britain’s fashion retailers enjoyed a golden period and were seen for a time as a source of national pride. The Debenhams evening wear department was a middle-class destination for all of life’s major celebrations. Marks & Spencer, which announced plans during the summer to lay off nearly 8,000 workers, was a byword for quality for decades, with its cotton underwear and cashmere knits a staple of British households.

In the 2000s, Topshop — once considered the jewel in the crown of Philip Green’s Arcadia Group — was a genuine style authority thanks to sellout collaborations with the model Kate Moss and a vast Oxford Street emporium laden with catwalk-inspired knockoffs.

But these brands have suffered for years. Fast-fashion giants from overseas, like Zara from Spain and H&M from Sweden, started selling cheaper, trendier clothes. They were followed by online-only upstarts such as Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing (similar to the American brand Fashion Nova). Geared toward young women and powered by social commerce, they offer low-priced fashion products designed to be browsed, bought and worn on social media.

The pandemic has hastened the demise of brands found in Britain’s high street shopping districts. For about a third of the year, clothing stores and other nonessential retailers have been shuttered to comply with lockdowns, accelerating the move to e-commerce. Since February, online clothing sales have grown 17 percent in Britain, while in-store sales have slumped 22 percent.

The old guard retailers and department stores that were too slow to invest in their online operations have found themselves grappling with the costs of real estate empires visited by fewer and fewer people. Even accounting for scores of closures in recent years, Debenhams has 124 department stores, while Arcadia has 444 stores for its brands in Britain. .

“Like Arcadia Group, Debenhams might have stood

Read more

Is shopping in stores safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

Is shopping in stores safe during the pandemic? There are ways to reduce risk, but health experts advise avoiding it when possible.



Covid-19: Woman customer choosing clothes at the mall store


© Igor Alecsander / Getty Images
Covid-19: Woman customer choosing clothes at the mall store

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says holiday shopping in crowded stores is a “higher risk” activity and that people should limit any in-person shopping, including at supermarkets. Instead, the agency recommends shopping online, visiting outdoor markets or using curbside pickup, where workers bring orders to your car.

Retailers get creative to reinvent holiday shopping amid COVID-19 pandemic

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

Off-peak hours

If you need to enter a store, go during off hours when there will likely be fewer people. Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others.



a group of people standing in front of a building: Small businesses struggle despite Black Frida... 01:52


© Provided by CBS News
Small businesses struggle despite Black Frida… 01:52

Try to spend as little time inside the store as possible, said Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University. “You just want to go in and out,” he said. “Get your shopping done and move on.”

Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you leave, and then wash your hands with soap and water when you get home.

Precautions don’t eliminate risk

Retailers have been doing all kinds of things to make shoppers feel safe, but they don’t eliminate the risk. Some check shoppers’ temperatures at the entrance, for example, but an infected person may not have a fever and can still spread the virus.

The plastic barriers between customers and cashiers also might not block all droplets from an infected person, Weisfuse said. If the air in a store feels stuffy, he said that’s a sign of poor ventilation, and you should leave.

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more

Amazon Smashes Records as Pandemic Spurs Online Holiday Shopping

Amazon.com  (AMZN) – Get Report said Tuesday this year’s start to the holiday shopping season has been the biggest in its history as the coronavirus pandemic drove consumers to its e-commerce platform in record numbers.

While Amazon didn’t disclose total sales figures for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it did say in a blog post that customers have been shopping early for gifts and seasonal items, making it “our biggest holiday season to date.”

“In a holiday season unlike any other, it’s clear that customers still want great deals on gifts for their loved ones or a little something extra for themselves, and we’re glad to help deliver smiles throughout the season,” Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke said in the blog post.

Amazon did disclose how its third-party retailers are doing. Independent businesses selling on Amazon surpassed $4.8 billion in worldwide sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Amazon said, noting that the figure was up 60% on last year. Some 71,000 small and medium-sized businesses have seen sales above $100,000 so far this holiday shopping season.

Amazon has been criticized for promoting its own products above those from independent retailers, but the company said the latter had seen “record demand” on its platform this year.

With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing millions to upend their traditional Thanksgiving holiday plans, with brick-and-mortar stores limiting the number of people allowed inside and with people themselves looking to avoid crowds, consumers have gone online in search of holiday deals and discounts.

Amazon gave some hints of what’s hot this holiday season, noting that top-selling U.S. items to date include Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land,” the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Hot Air Brush, Lite-Brite Ultimate Classic, Amazon Smart Plug, and 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test.

Shopping for self-care, nesting at home, and cozy comfort are also top U.S. trends, Amazon said, with beauty, home, and fashion among top categories shopped so far. Sports and pets are also hot categories this holiday season, Amazon said, as are toys, including LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book, LEGO Star Wars Mandalorian Battle Pack, Hot Wheels 20 Car Gift Pack, and L.O.L. Surprise! Present Surprise Doll.

Spending online on Black Friday this year climbed 22% year over year to a record $9 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. Cyber Monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year, also notched record sales, according to Adobe.

Shares of Amazon were up 0.38% at $3,180.06 in trading on Tuesday.

Source Article

Read more

Is shopping in stores safe during the pandemic?

There are ways to reduce risk, but health experts advise avoiding it when possible.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says holiday shopping in crowded stores is a “higher risk” activity and that people should limit any in-person shopping, including at supermarkets.

Instead, the agency recommends shopping online, visiting outdoor markets or using curbside pickup, where workers bring orders to your car.

If you need to enter a store, go during off hours when there will likely be fewer people. Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others.


Try to spend as little time inside the store as possible, says Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University.

“You just want to go in and out,” he says. “Get your shopping done and move on.”

Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you leave, and then wash your hands with soap and water when you get home.

Retailers have been doing all kinds of things to make shoppers feel safe, but they don’t eliminate the risk. Some check shoppers’ temperatures at the entrance, for example, but an infected person may not have a fever and can still spread the virus.

The plastic barriers between customers and cashiers also might not block all droplets from an infected person, Weisfuse says. If the air in a store feels stuffy, he says that’s a sign of poor ventilation, and you should leave.

___

The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: [email protected]

Read previous Viral Questions:

What does emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine mean?

Is it safe to stay in hotels during the pandemic?

Is it safe yet to fly during the pandemic?

Source Article

Read more