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VOL. 44 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 24, 2020

Outbreak mutates retail; more baking, less gum for Hershey

The Associated Press

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The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Thursday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.

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ALTERED STATE OF RETAIL: Retail stores are largely closed across the country and most of the people who worked in those shops have been laid off or furloughed. The pandemic has created a new normal in how people shop as well as what they buy.

— Comparable-store sales at Target rose 7% so far this quarter, but less is being bought by customers at it stores. That seeming contradiction has been created by booming online sales.

If something is ordered online and either delivered or picked up curbside, Target logs that as a sale for the store from where the goods were delivered, or left out for pick up. Target's online sales are booming, up 100% this month, even as fewer people walk the store isles, where sales slipped.

And what is being prioritized is striking, but not surprising. Sales of food and beverages have jumped 20%, while sales of clothes and accessories have tumbled 20%.

— The Gap has stopped paying rents in North America and elsewhere were stores are closed and said Thursday that it may run out of cash to continue without an infusion.

"We will need to take additional actions to both preserve existing liquidity and seek additional sources of liquidity, beyond our currently available cash and credit facilities within the next 12 months," Gap said in a regulatory filing.

EARNINGS SEASON:

— Hershey sales were helped, and hurt by the outbreak.

Baking supply sales — Hershey syrup, baking chips and cocoa — all jumped about 30% (check your Instagram account if you don't know why). Gum sales have gone in the other direction, with social distancing knocking fresh breath down a few pegs on the priority list. Fewer people are making impulse buys in checkout lines.

Hershey withdrew financial guidance Thursday citing current events.

— Crocs expects a larger decline in revenues in the second quarter, anticipating that a majority of its retail and partner stores may be closed for the whole period. The funky shoe maker said it is comfortable with the cash it has on hand. Crocs has furloughed workers at its retail stores in North America and reduced pay for executives and board members.

— Sales at Unilever are flat as falling sales of ice cream and other foods are offset by soaring sales of cleaning materials.

MARKETS: The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are down between 2% and 3% for the week after a dismal two days of trading, but all are up more than 20% over the past 30 days.

— Markets continued an upward trend this week despite a raft of dismal economic data.

SHAKEN, NOT DETERRED: Auto plants in the U.S. remain shut down with no solid date set for production to restart. Plants elsewhere are making plans to begin again.

— The car made famous by James Bond will reopen two of its British factories. Aston Martin Lagonda will resume production at the St. Athan plant in south Wales, which employs about 300 people, on May 5. A second Aston Martin factory at Gaydon will reopen at an unspecified date.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0