Amazon said Monday that next month it will hold a second Prime Day-like shopping event, making it the latest major retailer to offer holiday deals earlier this year to entice cautious consumers struggling with tighter budgets.
During the Oct. 11-12 event, Amazon Prime members will get early access to discounted items. The “Prime Early Access Sale” follows Amazon’s annual Prime Day in July.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant has long used these kinds of sales events to lure people into its Prime membership, which offers faster shipping and better deals for $139 a year. But October’s event will be the first time it has held a major sales drive twice in a year.
Amazon’s retail business had slowed down in recent months. And the shopping bonanza signals a recognition that it needs to provide more deals to inflation-hit consumers in what’s expected to be a challenging holiday shopping season for retailers.
Last week, Target said it would begin offering holiday deals in early October. Meanwhile, Walmart is expanding its window for gift returns to between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31, compared with last year’s return window of Nov. 1 to Jan. 24.
“What Amazon wants to do is be part of that early crowd and get a bite of the cherry,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. “And the best way to do that is, rather than having little deals here and there, is to have a big day that’s almost like a holiday kickoff.”
This year marks the second year in a row consumers are expected to shop earlier for holiday deals. Last year, Americans started shopping earlier to avoid shipment delays caused by supply-chain snafus. This year, analysts expect many budget-conscious consumers to do the same, aiming to spread out their spending and snag gifts before prices rise later on.
Jamil Ghani, vice president of Amazon Prime, said the company will offer deals on digital items and products that are “particularly relevant for the holiday season,” as opposed to its Prime Day event in July, which, for example, focused on back-to-school items. He declined to say whether a fall discount event will be a permanent fixture for Amazon going forward.
“We’re just focused on having a great event this year,” Ghani said. “I can’t say what’s going to happen in the future, we aren’t really thinking about it.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai urged his employees not to “equate fun with money” during a company-wide town hall event last week.
Pichai made the comments after employees complained that Google was restricting benefits for travel, as well as on-site entertainment and other perks, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by CNBC. The employees argued the company was “nickel-and-diming” them even as Google sees record-breaking profits.
“How do I say it?” Pichai responded. “Look, I hope all of you are reading the news, externally. The fact that you know, we are being a bit more responsible through one of the toughest macroeconomic conditions underway in the past decade, I think it’s important that as a company, we pull together to get through moments like this.”
“I remember when Google was small and scrappy,” he continued. “Fun didn’t always — we shouldn’t always equate fun with money. I think you can walk into a hard-working startup and people may be having fun and it shouldn’t always equate to money.”
Pichai and other executives went on to urge employees not to go all-out on expenses for upcoming holiday parties. Google finance chief Kristin Reinke also cut back on the importance of teams working together in person.
“Where you have summits and big meetings, please try to do them in the office. We definitely want people to still have fun. We know there’s holiday parties coming up, there’s year-end celebrations, we still want people to do that. But we’re just asking them to keep them small, keep them informal — try not to go over the top,” Reinke said.
In late July, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reported about $69.69 billion in second-quarter revenues for 2022, compared to roughly $61.88 for the same period last year.
The Mermaid Inn, a perpetually popular eatery at 570 Amsterdam Ave. for 15 years, will close on Oct. 16. Owners Danny Abrams and Cindy Smith said that they mutually agreed with the building’s new owners, a local partnership, to terminate their lease on the New England-style seafood spot which was soon to expire.
“We’re both super sad,” Smith said of her and Abrams’ feelings after they broke the news to 90 employees.
Their new landlord has unknown plans for the building and, “We didn’t want to have a restaurant surrounded by a scaffold,” Smith said.
But Mermaid-lovers can look forward too to a new location nearby, Abrams said.
“We’re looking at two or three spots to move on the Upper West Side, and we hope to be in one by late spring or early summer,” he said.
Meanwhile, the duo are close to opening a mammoth new Mermaid Inn at 127 W. 43rd Street off Times Square, the former HB Burger site, where they’ve teamed up with Alicart Restaurant Group CEO Jeffrey Bank.
Abrams and Smith said Amsterdam Avenue employees will be offered jobs at the Times Square venue. Only about half of the planned 550 seats will open this fall, with the rest to follow early next year.
“We haven’t built it out yet,” Abrams explained.
It will be their fifth and largest Mermaid. The oldest, at 96 Second Ave. downtown, just reopened after the two-year pandemic. The others are in Chelsea and in Greenwich Village, where it’s called the Mermaid Oyster Bar.
Vornado Realty Trust isn’t waiting for final approval of the state’s Empire Station Complex plan, in which Vornado would play a central role, to kick-start its dream for the Penn Station/Madison Square Garden area.
The publicly traded giant is building at one site and demolishing one across the street. Neither is part of the proposed wider-area redevelopment that would raze old buildings for new skyscrapers to be built mostly by Vornado and improve much-hated Penn Station. But they reflect chairman Steve Roth’s obsession with the neighborhood that long preceded former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Empire scheme.
Despite strong criticism of the larger Penn district scheme that’s now backed by Gov. Kathy Hochul — some of it reflected in these pages — there’s no denying Vornado’s productive investment in properties it has owned for decades.
Last week, Vornado topped off The Bustle, the dramatic new, 80,000 square-foot entry atrium to the office building known as PENN 2 on Seventh Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets. To open next year, it’s the street-level public face of the 1.6 million square-foot tower previously known as 2 Penn Plaza.
Among other changes, the once gloomy structure is getting an all-new curtain wall. Although the work won’t be finished until 2023, the tower is already unrecognizable from the 1968 original. It boasts gleaming glass all around and corner loggias on every floor.
The Bustle will boast a triple-height lobby with art suspended 50 feet in the air. It will provide direct access to the train station and also lead to an office entrance for PENN 2, although the main entrance will be through a new public plaza on West 33rd Street.
A big chunk of the tower is leased to Madison Square Garden, which recently renewed its lease for 365,000 square feet for 20 years.
Meanwhile, on the east side of Seventh Avenue, demolition is rapidly reducing the Pennsylvania Hotel to a memory. Roth long wanted to replace the unglamorous, 800-room inn with a super-tall office tower — Merrill Lynch was once touted as the anchor tenant — but the Great Recession and, more recently, the pandemic put the plan on hold.
Among Vornado’s other $2 billion in upgrades to the area, PENN 1 — the sister building to PENN 2 — now boasts an acre of public space. Recladding of both towers made them significantly more sustainable.
Vornado also recently spearheaded the $1.6 billion launch of Moynihan Train Hall in the Farley Building. All 730,000 square feet of the Farley’s office space is leased to Facebook.
A bid to sell a historic restaurant and mansion once owned by Colonel Sanders and his wife has struggled to take flight — partly because the deal is ruffling the feathers of KFC’s corporate owner, The Post has learned.
The Claudia Sanders Dinner House — a 63-year-old eatery in Shelbyville, Ky. that draws locals and tourists alike with its fried chicken, cole slaw and homemade pies — was put up for sale in June. Some interested buyers say they want to franchise it and expand its footprint outside the town for the first time.
But the prospect of a rival fried-chicken chain that uses the Sanders name has attracted the attention of KFC’s parent YUM! Brands, whose legal team promptly submitted a filing to the US Patent & Trademark Office days after the properties were put up for sale.
The filing seeks to reinforce protections of KFC trademarks, including “Colonel Sanders’ Original Recipe,” “Col. Harland Sanders” and “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good.”
“It’s a very unique situation,” said Jonathan Klunk of Six Degrees Real Estate, which has been hired to sell the properties. “We are selling Claudia and she doesn’t have as much name recognition as her husband, but a buyer can’t describe her without mentioning both her husband and KFC.”
Col. Harland Sanders married Claudia in 1949 and opened the Claudia Sanders Dinner House for his wife in 1959 on a 3-acre property that also includes their 5,000-square-foot private residence known as Blackwood Hall. Sanders lived out his final years at Blackwood Hall before his death in 1980 at age 94. Claudia died in 1994 when she was 90.
The property has been in the hands of Sanders family friends Tommy and Cherry Settle since the 1970s. Cherry, who is 78, was a hostess at the restaurant when she and Tommy, now 80, bought the property from the Sanders. Tommy had run a plant that supplied the restaurant with hams. The couple run the restaurant and currently live in Blackwood Hall but want to retire.
YUM! did not respond to multiple calls and emails for comment, but KFC is famously secretive about its fried chicken recipe, Sanders’ original 11 spices and herbs. Klunk says there are “a lot of similarities” between the restaurants’ menus but that the Dinner House has “no connection to the KFC recipe.”
The Settles had a run-in with YUM! in 2001 when Tommy found a leather-bound datebook from 1964 in the basement of Blackwood Hall that belonged to Col. Sanders and contained a list of 11 herbs and spices. Settle wanted to authenticate the recipe so he could sell it, according to reports at the time, but YUM sued him to keep it private until the company could vet it. The lawsuit was dropped when YUM! claimed the recipe wasn’t even close to the original.
YUM!, a $6.5 billion conglomerate headquartered in Louisville, Ky. that also owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, has not expressed an interest in buying the restaurant brand or property, Klunk said.
The Settles are seeking $9 million for their intellectual property as well as the two buildings, the three-acre lot and some memorabilia including the first KFC flag and bucket and a birthday letter to Sanders from President Richard Nixon. A 2013 auction of the Colonel’s memorabilia that included one of his white suits fetched $21,510 and his 1973 Kentucky driver’s license went for $1,912.
Six Degrees is now considering unbundling the estate, selling each piece separately to attract more buyers, Klunk said.
So far, interested buyers include local and large restaurant groups, serial entrepreneurs who have global businesses and even some local bourbon brands, according to the real estate firm.
One potential buyer talked about turning the Colonel’s house into a high-end Airbnb rental, while a couple of Kentucky bourbon brands are weighing expansions into comfort food, Klunk said. Others are exploring licensing its popular dishes, especially its famous yeast rolls, for sale in supermarkets, Klunk said.
But none of the bidders are moving forward before talking to YUM! about what they can do with the brand without inviting litigation.
“If you want to use the Claudia Sanders brand you have to have a team of intellectual property lawyers,” Klunk tells potential buyers.
The Claudia Sanders Dinner House has been a mainstay in Shelbyville, Ky. since 1959, even serving as the first KFC headquarters for a time. Its menu includes boxes of chicken wings, thighs, and tenders, yeast rolls, creamed spinach, cole slaw and homemade pies.
It’s one of the few establishments in the area that has a liquor license. Locals celebrate holidays, weddings and reunions at the grand, two-storied pavilion that features wide patios.
Even international tourists, especially from Japan – where KFC is a staple of Christmas dinners – have posted images of themselves roaming the vast parking lot between the dinner house and Blackwood Hall.
The restaurant has peacefully co-existed with the fast-food empire largely because the Sanders and Settles have never aggressively promoted the brand or touted it on social media.
That could change – but it won’t be easy to slap the Sanders name on other restaurants selling chicken, said Brad D. Rose, a trademark attorney at Pryor Cashman who isn’t involved in the case.
“Whoever is going to take on the Claudia Sanders name is probably in for an uphill and expensive battle,” Rose said.
I’ve been promoted and received a raise, but I’ve discovered that my predecessor made more than me. Obviously, the company could have done more. How should I handle this?
Were you satisfied with the compensation that was offered to you for the role? Because if you were, then discovering that you predecessor was paid more doesn’t necessarily change the equation or the value for you. There are several reasons why your predecessor could have been earning more. They could have been with the company a long time, or had more experience. The company may have decided to refill the position with someone who had less experience and more room to grow. Or, the financial model for the company has changed and they now can’t afford to pay the same. The only two points that matter are: How are you being paid relative to the company’s similar executives? And how are you being paid for your role relative to your value on the market? How you are being paid compared to a predecessor is less relevant. You could discuss it with your boss just to hear the explanation, but I wouldn’t approach with self-righteous indignation.
I was hired on the basis that I could work remotely, which was why I took the job. Now Ihave a new boss who says that I have to be back in the office or lose my job. What are my rights?
The company has the right to revise terms and conditions of employment. You have the right to remain silent and acquiesce to their wishes, or you have the right to refuse and lose your job. However, in this case you would likely be entitled to the same benefits and unemployment compensation as if you had been laid off, since this is a material change in the terms and conditions of your employment. There is a third option that I would recommend trying first. Your new boss may not know how productive you have been working remotely. Explain your situation, how you work and are delivering value and ask the boss to allow you to continue working remotely on a trial basis. If he agrees, you may change his mind — and in the meantime you can start looking for a new gig, just in case.
The green-energy movement has been very good for Wall Street, and not so good for consumers. Energy prices remain stubbornly high because environmentalists control vast swaths of government on both the federal and state levels mandating inefficient windmills, solar panels and other costly boondoggles.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street cash register keeps ringing. Money managers sell high-cost funds investing in environmental causes to unsuspecting buyers, and banks tap into businesses that receive green subsidies.
The latest example of Wall Street’s green cash machine at work: Blackstone’s investment in so-called “clean hydropower” that will bring this allegedly spotless electricity to New York City residents. The project is being sold as a clean and cost-efficient way to put a cap on our skyrocketing energy cost
The reality might be much different.
Gov. Hochul and the state Public Service Commission recently approved a plan that was 10 years in the making. A decade ago, Blackstone, a private-equity firm with $881 billion under management, made a hydro-transmission outfit known as Transmission Developers Inc., or TDI, one of its portfolio companies, with a grandiose vision of making it a player in the state’s utility market.
Now that’s playing the long game, and it gives you an indication of how the people at Blackstone smartly bet that the left’s obsession with everything green would be a huge business opportunity someday.
That day is now. TDI will soon be laying 338 miles of transmission cable lines from hydro stations in Canada through the floor of the Hudson River, all the way to New York City — to provide power to some 1 million homes when the project is completed in 2026.
It’s pretty complex stuff that is made even more daunting given the costs involved. Just a few months ago, the project was slated to run no higher than $4.5 billion. It’s now at $6.1 billion because of the immense amount of infrastructure and manpower necessary to carve cables through hundreds of miles of land.
But it’s happening. Financing terms, as Fox Business was first to report last week, will be announced later this month or next. They include Blackstone cobbling together bank loans to cover $5 billion in costs. Blackstone is responsible for another $1 billion, comprising the only equity stake in the transaction.
That’s a lot of money for a private-equity firm that has traditionally prospered by taking private companies in tech or hospitality, fixing their operations, and then selling them at a profit. But Blackstone thinks it’s well worth it. People there privately estimate they will easily double their investment in a couple of years.
One big reason Blackstone is so giddy is New York’s embrace of everything green — virtually guaranteeing it a huge payday. Recall former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s shuttering of the Indian Point nuclear plant and his plans to slash fossil fuels in the state to be replaced by green substitutes that Hochul has fully embraced.
That is leaving a huge hole in the state’s power grid. TDI and its transmission line — dubbed the Champlain Hudson Power Express, or CHPE — will become one of the only games in town as city dwellers face surging electricity costs amid shrinking supply.
Yes, a sweet return for doing God’s work on the environment, and I don’t begrudge Blackstone for cashing in. A spokeswoman said “this project . . . will deliver consistent, reliable, clean power to New Yorkers.”
My beef is with New York state officials who have failed to level with consumers over why they want to embrace a Rube Goldberg-like approach to energy when simpler solutions exist (i.e., clean and increasingly safe nuclear and, yes, natural gas, which is cleaner than coal).
First: There’s no guarantee that transmission lines running under the Hudson will work as envisioned and reach the near 100% efficiency of Indian Point. Also, the project might not be that environmentally sound. Hydro power sounds clean since it comes from water flowing through dams way up in Canada. Still, some green groups are raising a stink because the construction might endanger fish and cause pollution.
State officials are also not telling New York consumers that this whole effort might do little to stop the spiraling cost of energy, people with direct knowledge of the project tell me. Project supporters say while reducing CO2 emissions, CHPE will lower rates by $17.3 billion over 25 years. Sounds like a lot until you put it through a little logic: The “reduction” will be more than offset by massive increases in energy costs because of the inefficient green push, and Hochul won’t dare increase the supply of energy through more efficient nuclear power or she will face the wrath of the Democratic party base. Ditto for more natural-gas-created electricity.
Blackstone as a green savior also comes with a significant caveat: Hydro-Quebec, the Canadian utility supplying the power to TDI, is allowed to throttle some of its power supply during the winter months. Canadian winters are notoriously harsh and when power is needed closer to home, less energy might flow to New York City. (Hydro-Quebec says it can only throttle “capacity,” which it calls an “insurance product,” and will deliver power all year.)
As we all know, winters in New York are also no bargain. Thus this deal is no bargain — unless you’re Blackstone.
A Hochul rep didn’t return calls and emails seeking comment.
A top Costco Wholesale executive confirmed the big-box retailer has no plans to change the price of its $1.50 hot dog-and-soda combo at its stores despite months of decades-high inflation.
Costco CFO Richard Galanti reiterated the cheap price point on the fan-favorite deal would stay in place during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday.
An analyst asked whether Costco was adjusting prices in other parts of its business to maintain sales margins for its hot dog-and-soda deal and other value offerings.
“Lightning just struck me,” Galanti joked when the combo was mentioned. He added that higher-margin businesses such as gas and travel sales help Costco maintain its value deals.
“Those things help us be more aggressive in other areas, or as you mentioned, hold the price on the hot dog and the soda a little longer – forever,” Galanti added.
Costco and other retailers have hiked prices over the last year, passing along the higher costs of commodities and goods to consumers. Inflation has slightly declined in recent months but was still hovering at a hotter-than-expected 8.3% in August.
Galanti estimated that price inflation at Costco was about 8% during the fourth quarter, with increases “a little higher on the food and sundries side.”
Costco doesn’t have any immediate plans to hike its membership fees, according to the executive. Annual membership dues at the retailer currently start at $60.
Still, Galanti noted that membership price increases were likely at some point in the future. Costco has generally hiked its fees roughly every five to six years.
“Our view is, is we are confident in our ability to do so and at some point, we will. But it’s a question of when, not if,” Galanti said.
Despite the inflationary environment, Costco topped analysts’ expectations in the fourth quarter. The retailer posted quarterly revenue $72.09 billion and earnings per share.
But shares still fell more than 4% in trading Friday after executives noted a decline in gross margins.
Costco executives have famously avoided hiking prices in their food courts, especially for the hot dog-and-soda combo, regardless of changes in the economy.
In July, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek delivered a one-word answer when asked on CNBC whether prices changes were being considered for the deal.
Building supports have begun rising from the property for a facility that will cover 6 square miles and employ 6,000 workers when it is completed.
“This facility is the blueprint for Ford’s future manufacturing facilities and will enable Ford to help lead America’s shift to electric vehicles,” said Eric Grubb, Ford’s director of new footprint construction.
The project is being supported by a $884 million incentive program from the state of Tennessee and is expected to create an additional 21,000 indirect jobs, according to government officials.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee called it the “single largest investment in state history.”
The factory will build a next-generation F-Series “electric pickup that’s different than” the current F-150 Lightning, Ford CEO Jim Farley said in April.
Blue Oval City is part of a broader regional electric vehicle manufacturing investment by Ford that includes a $5.8 billion battery factory in Kentucky.
Ford is aiming to have the global capacity to build 2 million electric vehicles annually by 2026, which would represent nearly a third of its output, but has not committed to a timeframe for going all-electric in the US.
Ford this year split its business into the Model e division dedicated to electric vehicles and Ford Blue, which is focused on internal combustion engine models and hybrids.
Farley this month told the company’s dealers that they will have the option to just sell Ford Blue products if they don’t want to make the investments required to support EV sales.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 700 points, while the S&P 500 dropped nearly 100, shedding 2.65% from its pre-market starting point.
The tech-dominated Nasdaq Composite plunged more than 300 points, or 2.75%.
The Dow is now 20% off its all-time high — which would officially place it in bear market territory.
“The current numbers are certainly scary,” Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Waltham, Mass.-based Commonwealth Financial Network, told The Post. “And there is, in truth, a lot to worry about.”
The markets were rattled by the Fed’s recent 75-basis-points hike as well as the precipitous decline of the British pound against the US dollar.
The United Kingdom’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, spooked global investors Friday when her chancellor of the exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced that the government would pursue tax cuts and more borrowing in an attempt to lift the British economy out of its doldrums.
The announcement sent stocks, bonds and the British pound tumbling — stoking fears of a global recession.
“The market is finally taking the Fed at their word — they are going to cause a recession in order to fight inflation,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Charlotte, NC-based Independent Advisor Alliance, told The Post.
“This is bad news for financial markets and worse news for workers and the economy.”
Zaccarelli said “things will get worse before they get better, but they will get better eventually.”
“Unfortunately, it is going to take time before things do improve.”
Investors ought to buckle up for a bumpy ride, McMillan said.
“The Fed has committed to raising rates until inflation is brought under control, which is what sparked the current renewed downturn and is a reason for caution,” McMillan said. “We can expect continued market turbulence for some time.”
McMillan said the Fed is relying on a tried-and-true formula — short-term pain followed by long-term gain.
“The Fed is performing surgery right now on the economy,” he said. “In the short run, it is painful. But in the long run?”
“It is a healing process and one that sets the stage for a healthier economy and markets.”