Wednesday 23rd of September 2020

happy red hat day: bezos is you santa, amazon is your red-nosed reindeer...

red hats

The tradition of holiday shopping has long been an economic boon to businesses across the country. Sales soar, setting hearts aglow both behind the till and beside the Christmas tree.


Classic scenes of snowy streets and warmly lit storefronts come to mind, with mitten-clad families perusing shops while enjoying steaming mugs of hot chocolate. 

Yet recently there’s been a new salesman coming door-to-door with holiday shopping offers. Stooped low under the burden of unpaid taxes and smirking as he ports a briefcase jammed with cheap Chinese-made gadgets, the mysterious bald fellow seems to already know what you want and offers amazing discounts. A dutiful drone buzzes alongside him, ready to dispense fresh new items at its master’s command. 

The man’s name? Jeff Bezos. His game? Amazon, the most valuable company on planet Earth and the second-largest private employer in the United States after Walmart. 

Around half of Americans surveyed this year said they are planning to buy their holiday gifts from Amazon and three quarters said they compare prices with Amazon before buying elsewhere. Approximately half of all the money spent online by Americans is estimated to have gone to Amazon products and services over the past few years. The company sells more toys, books, clothing, and electronics than any other business and its Amazon Prime service has more than half of all American households under its umbrella. There is evidence to suggest that Amazon intentionally delays shipping times for those who don’t have Prime. And once customers do sign up, they rarely shop online elsewhere, leaving third parties a stark choice: close up shop or sell according to Amazon’s rules and fees.

Of course, there’s no law saying holiday shoppers are required to patronize Amazon. Nonetheless, most Americans continue to log on and load up on holiday gifts just like they did last year. This year’s “Cyber Monday” saw the biggest sales in Amazon’s history, as the company announced that it had shipped out “hundreds of millions” of products. These kinds of massive sales figures are the new normal for Amazon, as its predatory pricing scheme starts paying sky-high dividends. By holding Prime Day in the summer, Amazon also forces the Christmas and holiday shopping cycle to begin half a year early

Of the more than 350 million products sold on Amazon, only around 12 million are sold directly by them; many others are sold by third parties. Amazon is not primarily interested in being the biggest player in the market; rather, it wants to become the market. With increasing numbers of people searching for items to buy on Amazon directly rather than through a search engine, the site has moved closer to just that kind of dominance.


Read more:

... and yiwu is the north pole factory...

chinese xmas

The last week of this year will be business as usual for Santa Claus, thanks to Zhejiang province’s Yiwu, the global capital of Christmas decoration goods, industry insiders said.

Santa’s trademark “Ho, ho, ho” won’t be muted by the after-effects of the global trade standoff and resulting higher prices of festive paraphernalia like bells, bubble hats, the white-edged red coats, plastic trees, LED lights, dolls, shiny colorful lightweight balls and trinkets, all of which constitute a multibillion-dollar market.

Traders said they expect Christmas-related collective sales of nearly 300 Yiwu merchants to rise 25pc year-on-year to nearly $5 billion (£3.9 billion) this year.

Months before Christmas, the landmark Yiwu International Trade City, the chock-a-block sales and dispatch centre for the festival goods, began throbbing with hectic activity. That’s because for Yiwu’s merchants and factory owners, the Christmas season starts in May, when customers’ purchase orders start trickling in.

Factories run at full steam to meet the tasks of manufacturing and shipping their products across the world. Zhang Dan of Kunyuan Christmas Craftwork Co said the firm’s shipments doubled this year on the back of robust demand from Latin America, Europe and Africa.


Read more:


This was last year... Despite Trump the Grinch, this year promises to be another bumper Chinese chimney sweep...

hark, the prisons sing...

British grocery chain Tesco has suspended a Chinese supplier of its charity Christmas cards after a customer found a message in one of the cards saying they were produced using forced labour.

Tesco says it has also launched an investigation of the Chinese supplier it hired to make the holiday cards, Zheijiang Yunguang Printing, after The Sunday Times raised questions about the factory’s labour practices.

It emerged late on Monday that the printing company was also a supplier to Australia’s Cotton On Group.

The newspaper said the potentially problematic provenance of the cards came to light when a six-year-old girl in south London found a card in her box already had a message written inside.

It read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qinqpu prison China forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organisation.”

The writer asked whoever received the note to contact Peter Humphrey, a former British journalist who was detained in China while working as a corporate investigator and spent time at the same Shanghai prison.

Six-year-old Florence Widdicombe said she was “shocked” to see the message in the card.

“We opened them about a week ago and we were writing in them, and on about my sixth or eighth card, somebody had already written in it,” she told BBC TV.

Her father, Ben Widdicombe, said on Sunday they at first thought the message was a prank.


Read more:


I guess the prisoners in US prisons just loaf about...

slop economics, after complicated sex...

Retailers are hoping for strong Boxing Day sales, but the sector could be in for one of the worst Christmas shopping seasons since the global financial crisis.

Surveys by Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Roy Morgan and the Australian Retail Association are all suggesting a tough peak season for the retail sector.

But the National Retail Association is optimistic in the face of the gloomy forecasts.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said on Tuesday her organisation expects Australian shoppers to spend $2.62 billion during this year's Boxing Day sales.

This would reflect a five per cent increase on last year.

"We do work collectively with a number of organisations around this particular data and most years we're pretty close to being on the money," Ms Lamb said on Christmas Eve.

She said online shopping sales are forecast to increase by 23.6 per cent on last year's results to $655 million.


Read more:



Meanwhile :


At Christmastide you can’t escape from the fact that Christianity centres on the birth of a child, and glories in it. But Christians say that this Jewish baby from 2,000 years ago is also the supreme God, and then it gets complicated.

Birth generally involves sexual encounter, all messy and sweaty: what about this one? Did Jesus have two human parents? Well, he certainly grew up with a mum and dad, Mary and Joseph; but the story we hear in church at Christmas, amalgamated out of two different accounts in two of the four gospels, suggests that somehow Joseph didn’t get involved in the initial process of parenting, and that Mary had remained a “virgin”. 

Yet those gospel-writers, Matthew and Luke, seem confused. They set out, at great length, Joseph’s family tree, which suggests that he was Jesus’s biological father – otherwise why would they bother with the genealogy?


Read more:



Note: Gus does not shop on Boxing Day, preferring to laze in front of the box, red-ned (Shiraz preferably) in hand, switching channels from one sport-event to another, hoping the rain needed to fight the fires won't spoil the cricket. Meanwhile Gus is a fierce atheist who finds ANY religious beliefs completely senseless and ridiculous... Have a Merry Yuletide... Compliments of the seasons if you have made it so far. Our deepest thoughts are with the sick, some of our cash is shared with the poor. We hope our useless government helps the firefighters with cash — and suddenly realises that GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL AND ANTHROPOGENIC...