Why are people shopping online late at night?

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More consumers seem to be shopping online late at night and in the early hours of the morning, say retailers.

New data from the John Lewis Partnership Card shows that one in 15 purchases are now made between the hours of midnight and 06:00.

The research shows that the number of purchases made in this period rose by 23% in 2018, compared with 2017.

Retail analyst Chris Field told the BBC that technology improvements have prompted this new trend.

“It’s partly to do with the more recent generations of mobile phones, and the retailers are becoming much more sophisticated,” he says.

“They’ve realised that if you go to the website and you don’t buy, they have to spend money trying to get you back on to the website, so they’re investing a lot on the websites and software.”

Online-only fast fashion retailer I Saw It First says that it too has seen a spike in nocturnal shopping visits to its website.

The retailer, which was the main sponsor for ITV reality show Love Island for summer 2019, told the BBC that peak customer traffic occurs at 21:00 and ends at about 01:00.

During this period, customers aged 18-24 are most active on the website, while dresses and tops are the most popular items.

Electronics retailer Currys PC World told the BBC that traffic to its website usually peaks between 20:00 – 22:00 on weekday nights. But in the last year, there has been a 10% increase in customers shopping between 22:00 and 03:00.

The retailer said the product categories that received the most traffic included PC gaming hardware, PC components and gaming accessories.

But why do people feel the need to do their shopping so late at night?

‘It’s the only time’

Romana Kuchai, a doctor based in London, says that bedtime is the only period in the day when she has the time to go online to do her shopping, whether it is for essential or spur-of-the-moment purchases.

And she is not alone. Many women told the BBC that they too like to shop for clothes and even get their grocery shopping orders done late at night.

“My brain is buzzing at that time of day, so I’m often buying house decor, clothes, food – anything my brain has in its to-do list,” Hampshire-based marketing director Kerri Watts told the BBC.

This ties in with the John Lewis research, which found that night-time spending is predominantly done by women. However, men are likely to spend more late at night than women do.

The top five most popular items being bought on John Lewis in the early hours of the morning are:

  • duvet covers
  • televisions
  • laptops
  • mobile phones
  • freezers

Luke, 27, told the BBC that he and his partner work 45-50 hour weeks, and they use online shopping as a way to get things done so that they can spend more time on their relationship at the weekend.

However, Mr Field says that purchases made online at night are actually part of a “shopping journey” that begins much earlier in the day.

Retailers say that many purchases are not made impulsively. Usually the consumer has looked at the item at least once previously, perhaps on a desktop computer, before later deciding to take the plunge and buy the item on a mobile device.

This ties in with the experience of electrocardiogram technician Taia Johnstone. She told the BBC: “I sit there and save items in my basket and then online shop late at night, not sure why, but the most horrendous outfits suddenly look wearable around 11:47pm on the model.”

According to Mr Field, this nocturnal shopping phenomenon has grown over the last two years, and shoppers are not just buying items at unusual times of the day, but also initiating returns at different times as well.

Now, retailers are having to consider whether they need to extend the hours that they employ staff, especially as the online shopping market becomes even more competitive, he adds.

Plus the costs of operating an online ecommerce website are now about equal to the costs of running a bricks-and-mortar shop, research from retail consultancy AlixPartners has shown.

“Retailers are trying to understand whether they will need to have some kind of night shift at their contact centres, so there are at least a handful of people available to help with orders or answer questions,” he says.

“Retailers are trying to understand whether they will need to have some kind of night shift at their contact centres, so there are at least a handful of people available to help with orders or answer questions,” he says.

This article was originally published in BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-49633006

More Fed cuts expected to push Canadian interest rates lower: Don Pittis

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A weakening global economy and continued trade fears — and emphatically, he said, not angry words from U.S. President Donald Trump — convinced U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell to cut interest rates on Wednesday for the second time this summer.

And for Canadians waiting for lower rates, those same global forces are on their way, and will likely force Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz to follow suit.

Despite the fact that the quarter point cut was widely expected, the move had an immediate effect on the Canadian dollar which fell promptly after Powell’s announcement. 

While Powell said shrinking industrial activity justified the cut, he insisted that he and his advisers expect the economy to continue to grow, and predicted there would likely be no more interest rate cuts this year.

Markets — which have been predicting a series of cuts and, until recently, expected a larger half point cut — tumbled on the news.

After repeated attacks on Powell and the central bank, whom Trump recently described as “boneheads,” it was hardly surprising that the president expressed his unhappiness with the Fed chair’s mild rate cut.

“Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision!” tweeted the U.S. president.

While Canada’s central bank insists it is independent from what the Fed does, experts say a global trend to lower rates will come here too. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Powell insisted that such insults were not going change the bank’s outlook, and that despite the repeated attacks morale within the organization remains strong.

“I assure you that my colleagues and I will continue to conduct monetary policy without regard to political considerations,” said Powell.

He said the bank’s decision not to make the kind of deep cuts Trump has been demanding is because much of the economy remains robust.

“The consumer is spending at a healthy clip,” said Powell. “The labour market is still strong.”

‘Good solid year’

Powell sees growth for 2019 and 2020 coming in at two per cent, which hedescribed as “a good solid year,” and the purpose of the two rate cuts this summer, he said, have been to keep the economic expansion alive. 

“If you look at things that are happening in the economy, I personally see a high value in sustaining the expansion because we really are reaching, this positive economy is reaching, communities that haven’t been reached in a long time,” said Powell.

If that stimulus acts as intended, the economic boost is likely to work its way across the border into Canada, perhaps delaying the need for rate cuts here.

“Global capital markets are highly integrated and our long rates are definitely pulled down by the very, very low rates that are abroad,” said Powell. Those low overseas rates are one of the reasons for the inverted yield curve — a potential recessionary indicator from the bond market — and are a sign that parts of the global economy are on the rocks, he said. 

The Bank of Canada always insists it is not directly affected by U.S. interest policy moves, says Scott Aquanno, a political economist at Ontario Tech University, in Oshawa, Ont., who studies central banking.

But just as Powell fears possible contagion from the struggling economies of China and Europe, Canada will also feel the effects of U.S. moves.

“The domestic conditions that the Bank of Canada references when they say they are going to act on their own terms are set, in many respects, by what the Federal Reserve does,” said Aquanno. And that means lower rates are coming to Canada too, he said.

“It won’t act immediately because these kinds of things take a little while to trickle through the economy and to play out, but this does indicate … that the long-term trajectory for the Bank of Canada is a rate cut not a rate increase.”

Market disruption

At Wednesday’s news conference Powell was asked about this week’s credit crunch in short-term money, in what is called the repo market, when a shortage of lenders in the market for overnight money pushed rates far above the central bank’s interest rate range, indicating the Fed had been caught short. 

Because something similar happened before the 2007-08 credit crunch that led to the Great Recession, online chatter worried this week’s market jolt was a symptom of something worse. That was a view Powell was anxious to dispel. 

“We don’t see this as having any implication for the broader economy or for the economic outlook,” Powell told reporters.

But when the central bank began its emergency lending this week, banks came cap in hand for $53 billion US on Tuesday and another $80 billion on Wednesday.

“That’s $130-plus billion the banks have asked the Federal Reserve for, so that’s not insignificant, and in many respects it’s startling to feel like a mini, kind-of crisis within short-term funding markets,” said Aquanno.

The Fed is expected to release another $75 billion today in an attempt to steady the market, and Aquanno says it is crucial that they do for not just the U.S. but the Canadian and the global market.

“Once the Fed loses the capacity, or is perceived to have lost capacity to manage short-term rates, then that introduces tremendous volatility into the system because the Fed remains the global central bank, even more so that it did 15 years ago.”

Original story link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/federal-reserve-rates-canada-1.5279888