Despite the CDC's recommendations not to travel or convene for the holiday, the airlines got a boost as the Transportation Security Administration set a new pandemic record Sunday for the number of travelers (1.2 million) who passed through U.S. airport checkpoints, according to USA Today. More than 1 million travelers also passed through checkpoints Friday, Sunday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the TSA has hit that milestone only one other time, Oct. 18.
Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has died at the age of 46 from injuries he sustained from a house fire. Hsieh “catapulted the shoe company into the big leagues with a sale to Amazon and then used the proceeds of his success in a huge project kickstarting regeneration of a run-down part of Las Vegas with tech and wider business investments,” according to TechCrunch. “Hsieh was a brilliant, offbeat, and — to many people, often very directly — kind-hearted person who was regularly described as a visionary.”
HelloFresh is strengthening its leading position in the U.S. meal kit market. The German meal kit company is acquiring Factor75 Inc., a Chicago-based meal kit startup, for $177 million. Factor is a provider of fully prepared fresh meals that aim to combine health, convenience and restaurant-quality taste. “Both companies say they share a strong vision for operational excellence and a data-driven approach to delight customers with great meals consumed at home,” according to Progressive Grover.
COVID-19 strikes again. The NBA and the Indiana Pacers are postponing the NBA All-Star in Indianapolis, scheduled for Feb. 12-14, to 2024. Plans for a revised NBA All-Star 2021 will be announced at a later date. The NBA season is scheduled to start Dec. 22. “Public health conditions prevented the Pacers, the NBA All-Star Host Committee and the NBA from appropriately planning and executing fan-focused All-Star activities in Indianapolis that were envisioned for this February,” according to the league.
Like everything else in 2020, Black Friday will look very different this year. Online sales, social distancing, curbside pickup and extended sales are some of the tactics retailers are using in the hopes of not becoming COVID-19 superspreader events. Target is spreading its sale offerings throughout November, offering promotions of different product categories each week. Best Buy said it was selling this year’s new gaming consoles online only, to avoid lines outside stores. Walmart is offering contactless curbside pickup service for Black Friday orders.
J.C. Penney was in court Tuesday for a confirmation hearing with the goal of exiting bankruptcy proceedings. The sale of the company is expected to close on Wednesday, allowing the new owners—its majority group of first-lien lenders for its real estate assets and Simon Property Group and Brookfield Capital Partners for the operating component of the business—to take control before Black Friday. Parties are adamant about not letting the 118-year-old company fall into liquidation mode.
As infection rates continue to climb nationwide, shoppers are taking to the stores to buy up all the toilet paper and cleaning supplies they can nab. "There is no doubt the industry is a lot smarter today than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, and companies have adjusted their businesses to meet eight straight months of double-digit demand – which we expect to continue," Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, told USA Today.
Sherwin-Williams has fired an employee after the company discovered his popular paint-mixing TikTok channel @tonesterpaints, which currently has over 1.2 million followers. “Tony Piloseno said that for months he'd been pointing to his viral account as an example of what Sherwin-Williams could do on social media and by marketing its brand to a younger audience,” per BuzzFeed News. “But instead it led corporate personnel to investigate his social media account, and they ultimately fired him after determining he was making ‘these videos during [his] working hours’ and with company equipment.”
Walgreens is overhauling its loyalty program to be more health-and-wellness-centered. “MyWalgreens comes with new benefits for members, who can now earn 1% Walgreens Cash rewards storewide, 5% Walgreens cash rewards on Walgreens-branded products and personalized ‘only for you’ deals,” per Drug Store News. The launch includes a redesigned Walgreens mobile app that includes store pickup purchasing options (with as little as 30-minute pickup at some stores).
Walmart is playing Santa in a new way this year. "This holiday season, Walmart will hang your lights, or deliver a live Christmas tree right to your doorstep," according to a company blog post cited by USA Today. The retailer is "the latest to announce plans to deliver fresh live trees joining Home Depot, Lowe's and Williams Sonoma."