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Americans focused on nesting during the coronavirus pandemic help lift US holiday shopping sales

Tashdique Mehtaj Ahmed/Getty Images Holiday shoppers in the US spent 3% more than the previous year, led by online spending spikes on furnitu…

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woman paying on phone online shopping

Tashdique Mehtaj Ahmed/Getty Images

  • Holiday shoppers in the US spent 3% more than the previous year, led by online spending spikes on furniture and home improvement, says Mastercard.
  • “They shopped from home for the home, leading to record e-commerce growth,” Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard, said in a statement.
  • Online sales in the 75 days prior to Christmas jumped 49% from the same year-earlier period, the company said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Holiday shoppers in the US spent 3% more than the previous year, led by online spending spikes on furniture and home improvement.

As might be expected, online retail boomed as in-person lagged, according to data released Saturday by Mastercard.

The company said online sales in the 75 days before Christmas jumped 49% from the same year-earlier period.

The biggest bump over last year came in home improvement, continuing a yearlong trend. As people stayed home during the pandemic, they spent more on making their surroundings comfortable. Online home improvement sales soared about 80%.

“American consumers turned the holiday season on its head, redefining ‘home for the holidays’ in a uniquely 2020 way. They shopped from home for the home, leading to record e-commerce growth,” Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard, said in a statement.

Holiday shoppers seemed to be focused on nesting, as online furniture and furnishing sales climbed 31%, and electronics and appliances climbed 6%.

A rise in overall holiday spending – even by just 3% – will likely be met with cheers from retailers, many of which have had a difficult year bringing customers in.

“And, consumers shopped earlier than ever before. Across our expanded 75-day holiday shopping season, sales were up 3.0%, a testament to the holiday season and strength of retailers and consumers alike,” said Sadove in a statement.

The holiday shopping season is marked off differently by some firms, but for many, it begins on the day after Thanksgiving, so-called Black Friday. Foot traffic on that day in US stores had fallen 52%, while online sales climbed 22%, according to Sensormatic Solutions. Mastercard said on Saturday that sales that day fell 16% year over year.

But “Thanksgiving weekend through Cyber Monday remained a key time for shoppers, with Black Friday being the top spending day of the 2020 holiday season,” Mastercard said in a statement.

In-store retail sales for items that are usually holiday staples slipped, as expected. In-person clothing sales dropped 19%, while luxury items dropped 21%, according to Mastercard.

In-person jewelry sales slipped 4%, while online sales rose 45%, according to Mastercard.

Overall, in-person department store shopping fell 10%, but rose about 3% online.

“Buy online, pick up in-store as well as technologies like contactless were key for retailers this season,” said Mastercard.

About 38% of US shoppers had planned to spend less this holiday season, according to a study from Deloitte.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/mastercard-christmas-holiday-shopping-grew-3-led-by-online-boost-2020-12-1029920056

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Two new Florida cruises have cabins for solo travelers – see inside the ships

The Solo Suite available in 2022. Atlas Ocean Voyages Over the last month, Oceania Cruises and Atlas Ocean Voyages have unveiled ships with si…

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The cruise industry is gradually resuming operations, and at the same time, some cruise lines are tapping into a specific segment of customers: solo travelers.

volunteer employees boarding a cruise ship carrying luggageVolunteer Royal Caribbean employees for the Freedom of the Seas sailing at PortMiami on June 20.

Marta Lavandier/AP Photo

Over the past month, two Florida-based cruise lines – including a newcomer to the industry – have unveiled new ships with cabins designed for lone travelers.

top view of the World NavigatorThe World Navigator.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

But solo cruising isn’t a new trend: Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages, and Norwegian have already successfully rolled out single-person accommodations.

a bed next to a desk, tv, and mirrorThe Solo Insider.

Virgin Voyages

Source: Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages, Norwegian Cruise Line

And so far, it’s been a success. For brands like Virgin, these solo rooms “perform really well,” John Diorio, the cruise line’s associate vice president of sales, told Johanna Jainchill for Travel Weekly.

a bathroom with a shower, sink, mirrorThe Solo Insider.

Virgin Voyages

Source: Travel Weekly

Staying in solo suites allows independent travelers to bypass paying single supplements, the fees that come with staying in a room designed for more than one occupant.

a bed besides a balcony with views of the oceanThe Anthem of the Seas’ Studio Ocean View Stateroom with a balcony.

Royal Caribbean International

Some solo travelers see this single supplement as a “major obstacle” and a “penalization” for solitary vacations, Alberto Aliberti, president of Atlas Ocean Voyages, told Insider in an email statement.

a bed besides a balcony with views of the oceanThe Quantum of the Sea’ Superior Studio Ocean View with a balcony.

Royal Caribbean International

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Atlas Ocean Voyages just debuted this month, and it’s the first luxury cruise line to join the market in over 20 years, according to the company.

the exterior of the World NavigatorThe World Navigator.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

Source: Insider

To cater to this solo traveler segment, Atlas Ocean Voyages decided to include single-person suites aboard its first and and only vessel.

a rendering of a bed facing a TV with a window in the backThe Solo Suite available in 2022.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

The brand’s World Navigator cruise ship has 98 guest rooms that can accommodate just under 200 travelers.

a bed besides a armchair, lights, and a nightstandThe Veranda Stateroom.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

Beginning March 2022, the World Navigator will also have six 183-square-foot suites designated for solo travelers.

a rendering of a bed facing a TV with a window in the backThe Solo Suite available in 2022.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

These single rooms – which Aliberti says have prompted “very positive responses” – will come with the same perks as the ship’s other suites. This includes binoculars and in-room Nespresso coffee, a stocked mini-refrigerator, and bar and butler services.

a rendering of a bed facing a TV with a window in the backThe Solo Suite available in 2022.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

Similarly, in July, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ Oceania Cruises brand announced plans for its Vista cruise ship, which will officially debut in 2023.

a living room with a couch, coffee table, and deskThe Concierge Level Solo Veranda stateroom.

Oceania Cruises

Source: Oceania Cruises

The Miami-based cruise line’s upcoming ship will have “concierge level solo veranda staterooms” created for lone travelers, a first for the cruise line.

a bed tucked away in the corner of the suite with the living room in the backgroundThe Concierge Level Solo Veranda stateroom.

Oceania Cruises

Like Atlas Ocean Voyages, solo guests sailing with Oceania will have the same luxury amenities as other concierge level passengers, such as free laundry and access to the Concierge Lounge.

a living room with a couch, coffee table, desk, and bed in the backgroundThe Concierge Level Solo Veranda stateroom.

Oceania Cruises

And according to Aliberti, that’s the point. Many of these “underserved” solo travelers want the suite amenities, just not the single supplement payments.

a table with seats and a mirrorThe Solo Insider.

Virgin Voyages

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/photos-florida-cruise-ships-cabins-for-solo-travelers-2021-8

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Blackstone’s betting $6 billion on the rental market – here’s why private-equity loves real estate right now

Jonathan Gray, Blackstone president and chief operating officer Heidi Gutman/NBCUniversal via Getty Images Blackstone is all-in on rent resets…

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Jonathan GrayJonathan Gray, Blackstone president and chief operating officer

Heidi Gutman/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

  • Blackstone is all-in on rent resets and long-term property assets to combat potential inflation.
  • Private equity firms have trillions of dollars in cash to put to work on acquisitions.
  • Blackstone’s share price ticked over $100 for the first time this month.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s been quite the month for Blackstone.

The private-equity behemoth is part of a consortium of investors that bought Medline for about $34 billion, its share price ticked over $100 for the first time, and it’s doubling down on residential real estate with a $6 billion Home Partners of America buy.

It’s a bet on scorching demand for housing continuing, and also a defensive move as inflation worries start to seep into investors’ minds. The average price of a home topped $350,000 for the first time inn May, according to the National Association of Realtors, logging the largest-ever increase in prices since the NAR began tracking data.

“Whether it’s apartments, storage facilities for warehouse distribution, or single-family homes, private-equity is getting into this as an inflation hedge,” Nicholas Tsafos, a partner with accounting firm EisnerAmper, told Insider.

Home Partners, which owns more than 17,000 homes in the US, rents out these properties, but tenants have an opportunity to someday buy the home.

In the single-family rental arena, private-equity firms can hike rents, while also holding onto profitable, tangible assets.

“Because interest rates are low, and with the potential for a pick-up in inflation, private-equity also feels the need to be long on hard assets,” Tsafos said. “In real estate, you buy it today and then flip it for a higher price.”

Jon Gray, Blackstone’s president and COO, alluded to it during the firm’s earnings call in April when he said multi-family apartments that come with the ability to reset rents were key for Blackstone.

The firm bought many houses at remarkable discounts after the housing market crashed in 2007. It accumulated a number of single-family homes through a former portfolio company Invitation Homes. Blackstone sold its final block of shares in the company in 2019.

The private-equity shop also favors logistics spaces, such as warehousing, life sciences offices, and media and studio businesses with offices, according to a June 22 research note from UBS.

In October, Blackstone made a handsome investment when it sold life sciences real-estate company BioMed Realty for $14.6 billion, after acquiring it for about $8 billion in January 2016.

And it’s not just Blackstone. Fellow private-equity investor KKR is investing in My Community Homes, a platform that buys and manages single-family rental properties, according to Bloomberg.

KKR will invest in My Community Homes through its real-estate and private-credit vehicles.

A spokesperson for KKR was not immediately available to comment.

The Carlyle Group said in May that it provided up to $300 million to Four Springs Capital Trust, a private REIT that acquires and manages single-tenant properties with long-term net leases.

Four Springs will use the money to build its portfolio, which encompasses 122 properties across 29 states, Carlyle said in a press release.

The move on real estate comes while private investment firms sit on more than $1 trillion in cash. Borrowing costs, too, remain subdued as the Fed keeps interest rates at all-time lows.

Given the sheer amount of dry powder available, coupled with accommodative credit markets, private-equity is keen to conduct a surfeit of acquisitions, and isn’t shy about injecting large sums of equity into prospective investments.

Medline, for example, is expected to raise roughly $17 billion from the debt markets, while the private investors are providing a similar amount in equity.

“Big leveraged buyouts are back in vogue,” said Christopher Zook, chairman and CIO of alternative investment manager CAZ Investments. “Whether it’s KKR or Blackstone, they have large capital to put to work. So they’ve got to do a ton of deals.”

Disclaimer: KKR holds a majority stake in Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer.

It’s been quite the month for Blackstone.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/blackstone-home-partners-america-single-family-rental-real-estate-inflation-2021-6-1030556791

blackstone's-betting-$6-billion-on-the-rental-market---here's-why-private-equity-loves-real-estate-right-now

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Trading the Fed, plus insights from a 99th-percentile fund manager

Hello and welcome to Insider Investing. I'm Joe Ciolli, and I'm here to guide you through the current market and investing landscape. Here…

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Hello and welcome to Insider Investing. I’m Joe Ciolli, and I’m here to guide you through the current market and investing landscape. Here’s what’s on the docket:

If you aren’t yet a subscriber to Insider Investing, you can sign up here.

Have thoughts on the newsletter? Just want to talk markets? Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or on Twitter @JoeCiolli.

Fed-driven portfolio adjustments GettyImages 1228670990

Pool/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve left interest rates steady this past week while setting the stage for two hikes by year-end 2023. Traders, who took a wait-and-see approach before the Fed meeting, quickly sprung into action. Insider spoke with Wall Street and crypto investors to gauge how to position for the hawkish shift.

Read the full story here:

The Fed has left rates steady while signaling 2 potential hikes by the end of 2023. Here is what to do with your stocks, bonds, and digital assets, according to top Wall Street and crypto investors.99th-percentile insights and stock picks Dave Ellison

Hennessy Funds

Financial-sector stocks have outperformed the rest of the market over the last several months. Hennessy Funds’ Dave Ellison – who’s in the 99th percentile compared to peers over the past year – told Insider he expects their strong performance to continue. He shared 5 financial stocks to buy now in order to take advantage of the remaining upside.

Read the full stories here:

Dave Ellison has beaten 99% of his peers over the last year managing the Hennessy Small-Cap Financial Fund. He breaks down why he thinks financial stocks still have room to run – and shares 5 names to bet onSPAC shorts SPACs and hedge funds 2x1

Brian Snyder/Reuters; Michael Loccisano/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Insider

Short interest in SPACs stood at $3.2 billion in mid-June, up from $2.7 billion. The uptick in SPAC shorts comes as the market works to recover from a weeks-long slowdown, and one ETF manager expects recently “de-SPACed” companies to see short activity surge soon. Exclusive data shows the 20 most-shorted blank-check companies right now.

Read the full stories here:

Bets against SPACs are revving back up as the market attempts a comeback. Here are the 20 most-shorted blank-check companies now.YOU’RE INVITED: A Millennial Guide to Home Ownership

Join us and learn how to navigate the complicated process of buying a home in today’s hot market on Tuesday, June 22 at 12 p.m. ET – during a free, hour-long virtual event presented by Fidelity.

Register here.

Stock pick central

Seeking experts who are willing to name names? Look no further:

Have thoughts on the newsletter? Just want to talk markets? Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or on Twitter @JoeCiolli.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/trading-fed-99th-percentile-picks-spac-short-selling-insider-investing-2021-6-1030537490

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