10.10: A new holiday shopping day aims to avoid a void under the tree - OCRegister

10.10: A new holiday shopping day aims to avoid a void under the tree - OCRegister


10.10: A new holiday shopping day aims to avoid a void under the tree - OCRegister

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 10:30 AM PDT

By Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Jordyn Holman | Bloomberg

With 2020 proving disastrous for retailers, a group is introducing a new shopping holiday for a much-needed boost — or at least to help prevent things from getting worse.

It's called 10.10, mirroring China's Singles' Day, which is held on Nov. 11, or 11/11, and is now the world's biggest shopping event. More than two dozen major retailers have signed on, says Deborah Weinswig, a retail consultant who masterminded the new event. The rewards app Shopkick Inc. is a partner in the effort and is launching a 10.10 website.

Companies have yet to disclose their participation. Retailers carefully plan sales events, where the element of surprise can be key in drumming up shoppers' interest.

The aim is to pull holiday shopping into October from closer to Christmas so retailers can cope with limits on both shipping capacity and available merchandise. Unprecedented demand during the pandemic has constrained shipping, while product selection is low because the outbreak and subsequent lockdown disrupted holiday planning this spring.

"If we don't pull it forward, then it won't happen," Weinswig said in an interview, referring to much of the spending on holiday goods. Disruption at the end of the year, meanwhile, could exacerbate the industry's already bleak outlook. She noted that big discounts are unlikely this year because there hasn't been a glut of unwanted goods in the market.

Retailers that have erred on the side of keeping inventory stockpiles light this year are even scrambling to buy merchandise from bankrupt peers. That's "because there's just literally so little in the pipeline," said Weinswig, a former Wall Street retail analyst who's chief executive officer and founder of consulting firm Coresight Research.

'No capacity'

Most holiday shopping takes place in the weeks running up to Christmas, with many of the busiest days traditionally coming right before Christmas Day. Weinswig said she hopes the event will let shoppers know that in 2020, they can't necessarily rely on previous habits.

Shipping times in December are a particular concern. "There is no capacity," she said. "We're seeing people who have never shopped online shop online."

Individual retailers are also taking steps to make sure they can supply and deliver merchandise, while also discouraging crowds from accumulating at stores on the busiest shopping days.

Home Depot earlier said it's rolling out Black Friday specials Nov. 8, instead of the day after Thanksgiving. American Eagle Outfitters is also seeking to move holiday shopping earlier. Neither company has mentioned the 10.10 shopping event.

A new October shopping holiday makes sense, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. If shopping is compressed into November and December, retailers will "really struggle to manage that demand, especially from an online perspective," he said.

Earlier purchases could give retailers a better read on what customers are looking for, Weinswig said, while a U.S. equivalent of Singles' Day, which started in the 1990s and generated $38 billion in sales last year, is long overdue. "I've been on stage begging CEOs to do their own shopping holiday" for years, she said. She added she expects the season to be profitable for companies, in spite of all of 2020's upheaval.

There's precedent for manufactured shopping holidays being a success, Saunders said, with the obvious example being Amazon's Prime Day, which is also expected to be held in October this year. "If [retailers] can create these occasions and put momentum behind them, it can actually make quite a big difference," he said.

With assistance from Bloomberg writer Richard Clough.

WWII history buffs aim to test artillery on Osteen acreage - Daytona Beach News-Journal

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 12:01 PM PDT

Casmira Harrison   | The Daytona Beach News-Journal

For at least two years, a World War II historic preservation club's members have restored, repaired and occasionally tested their collection of WWII-era weapons, including tanks and other heavy artillery, on about 117 acres out in Osteen.

But the land was never approved for that type of use on a daily basis. So now, the Deltona-based nonprofit club is seeking approval from the county for the weapons tests, storage and repairs that help them carry out historic reenactments elsewhere about five times a year.

On Tuesday, Michael Woods, attorney for landowner and Longwood-based firearms dealer House of Ben Avraham, LLC, is expected to ask Volusia County Council members to allow a special exception to the county's land rules. The council's permission would create a recreational area and a variance so the group can park oversized vehicles on the acreage and test and repair the collection. 

If the special exception is approved, "the facility will be used on a day-to-day basis from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m for the movement of vehicles along existing trails and occasional firing of light artillery – weapons that discharge ammunition under the size of .50 caliber."

The group is also asking to hold practices "at least one time each month to practice vehicular movements and firing demonstrations, including the testing of heavy weapons and machinery."

Not everyone likes the idea of World War II weapons fire in the neighborhood, though.

Migdalia Ocasio sent a letter of opposition to the planning department and to the Volusia County Council back in July. In it, Ocasio asked the county leaders to deny the request from the club.

"As a resident and property owner right across the street (northwest) from the site, I know first hand the noise volume that comes from this site during testing of heavy weapons and machinery," stated Ocasio. "When WW2 Armor tests the heavy weapons and machinery, the boom that those machines make literally shakes the foundation of my house. Since this is not a constant occurrence, I have never complained. But with regards to the proposed requests, I cannot imagine the noise levels that will come from this site if the special exception is approved and the proposed facility will be used on a day-to-day basis."

Ocasio said while she respects "WW2 Armor and everything they are doing to preserve the story of the US Armored Division in World War II," she is worried about the noise getting worse.

What began with a 1942 Ford GPW Jeep in the WWII Armor stable, led to an M3 half-track, an M20 armored scout car, a semi-replica M5 Stuart tank, an M4 Sherman tank, two M18 Hellcat tank destroyers and an M36 Jackson tank destroyer, according to WWII Armor's website.

The application states that the applicant agrees to provide a notice of practice events to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office 48 hours in advance and to post signage on the property 24 hours prior to each event, while a flag system is expected to notify neighbors of practice events.

According to county documents, the weapons are occasionally tested to keep them operational.

"Tests are short and are not held over sustained periods of time," documents state. "The adjacent neighbors and the sheriff's department are notified prior to firing activities" and actual performances are conducted off-site.

The general public isn't allowed on the site.

According to the county, there was no public participation at the Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission hearing July 16, other than Ocasio's letter. And in the end, the planning board voted 6-1 to recommend approval.

According to the group's webpage, the entire collection of weapons is owned by Rabbi Rob Thomas, managing director of the club.

Thomas was unavailable for comment in time for publication. Spokesman for the group, Mike Houk said with the hearing coming up Tuesday, it was a difficult time to talk about the group's passion for history.

"We're trying to get the hearing under our belt so we can operate safely," said Houk. 

But the group's website helps convey that passion. Club members can be seen in photos and videos taken across the U.S. showing off the working pieces of history.

Made up of a mix of paid staff and volunteers, some are currently serving or retired military members.

"Our team includes quite a few combat vets who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and other locations," the website states. "Others on the team simply have a passion for history or armor. All work very hard to keep the vehicles and weapons in full working order and spend considerable time learning about the era, the machines and the men who crewed them."

The Volusia County Council meeting begins with public participation at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center in DeLand.

DNR invites deer hunters to share wildlife observations - NUjournal

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 11:03 PM PDT

Enter data

on DNR

website

ST. PAUL — An online questionnaire will make it easier for Minnesota deer hunters to report wildlife they see during their hunts this year.

"This is a simple, direct way for hunters to share their observations of deer and also broaden our knowledge about other Minnesota species," said Eric Michel, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) research scientist. "We're really encouraging hunters to participate in the online questionnaire. The results will help us compare what hunters see to population estimates that are a baseline for managing wildlife."

Using a mobile device or desktop computer, hunters can enter information on the DNR website about wildlife they see each day of hunting, including deer, turkeys, bears, fishers and other species. They'll also be able to report specific information about any deer they harvest, including antler size.

Hunters are encouraged to fill out a report after each hunt even if they don't see any deer that day. The questionnaire will be available when archery deer season begins Saturday, Sept. 19, and remain open through the end of the year.

"Deer hunters tend to be out in the woods sitting still when animals are most active at dusk and dawn. That makes them likely to see undisturbed wildlife," Michel said.

Data from the observation survey will provide a helpful comparison to the DNR's population estimates for various species.

The new questionnaire expands on a survey the DNR has made available to bow hunters for the past three years. In that survey, 1,412 bow hunters responded in 2017, 1,691 responded in 2018 and 2,180 responded last year. Now, the DNR is aiming to increase participation by allowing all deer hunters to participate.

The DNR developed the bow hunter survey following a 2016 report from the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor requesting more checks of the population model used to estimate deer populations for each deer permit area. The observation surveys are a way to compare hunter-provided data with DNR population estimates.

"Our deer population model gives us good numbers, but we still like to check those against what hunters and wildlife managers are seeing on the ground. It's another way to add confidence to the whole system," Michel said.

The DNR has deer population goals for areas throughout the state and the public has regular opportunities to provide input. Each year, wildlife managers use deer population estimates to figure out what level of deer harvest will move a local deer population closer to goal. The DNR then sets hunting regulations using past hunter participation and success rates, with the aim of harvest at a level that moves the population toward goal.

The DNR will report results from hunters' observations in an annual research summary online. Previous bow hunter survey results are available on the DNR website.

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LISTEN: A flurry of lawsuits aim to stop drilling plans in Alaska's Arctic. So what's next? - Alaska Public Media News

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 08:26 AM PDT

Caribou graze on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with snowcapped peaks of the Brooks Range as a backdrop. (USFWS)
Caribou graze on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with the Brooks Range as a backdrop. (USFWS)

Alaska Native groups, environmental groups and, most recently, opens in a new windowa coalition of 15 states have filed a flurry of lawsuits over the past month that aim to derail drilling plans for Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve.

These are separate lawsuits over separate pieces of land — a lot of land — and it's a lot to keep track of.

Alaska Public Media's Tegan Hanlon and Casey Grove recently talked over the phone to try to sort through it all. 

LISTEN HERE:

[GROVE]: Well, let's just get right into it. Can you briefly summarize what triggered these lawsuits?

[HANLON]: Yes. So there have been two big, recent developments when it comes to oil and gas drilling on Alaska's North Slope.

Number one: The Trump administration announced in August opens in a new windowits official plan for opening up part of the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development. It's an area called the coastal plain, and it sits to the east of Prudhoe Bay. The coastal plain makes up about 8% of the whole refuge. But the whole refuge is massive, so 8% of it is about the size of the state of Delaware.

It's a place believed to hold billions of barrels of untapped oil, but it's also an area where caribou migrate, polar bears den and migratory birds feed. And environmental groups have long fought to keep drilling rigs out.

And so, this official plan for oil and gas development on the land comes out in August, and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says that the federal government could auction off drilling rights in the coastal plain to oil and gas companies by the end of the year. (Once leases are issued, it will be harder for a future president to reverse course.)

All of it is a very big deal.

RELATED: opens in a new windowTrump Administration finalizes plan for oil drilling in Arctic Refuge

[GROVE]: OK. I got that part. So, what's number two. 

Significant development number two: On the other side of Prudhoe Bay, to the west, sits Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, also called the NPR-A. There's already some oil and gas development going on in the NPR-A, but there's also land that is off-limits to drilling under the current Obama-era plan for the reserve.

But the Trump administration is working on a new management plan for the reserve, opens in a new windowand it released its final environmental impact statement for that plan in June. The proposal would make about 80% of the NPR-A open to drilling instead of the current 50% or so. And that includes opening up the Teshekpuk Lake area — in the reserve's northeastern corner — to drilling.

RELATED: Trump administration wants to open millions of more acres to oil development on Alaska's North Slope

The next step is the government issuing what it calls a record of decision — or you might hear it referred to as a "ROD" — basically it's just the final decision.

Again, all of it is also a very big deal. 

And, like the Arctic Refuge, the NPR-A is also thought to hold billions of barrels of oil but it's also an important habitat for birds and caribou and other wildlife. In both areas, there's also concerns about impacts to subsistence, the climate and the land. 

[GROVE]: And then came the lawsuits, right?

[HANLON]: Yes! And then came an avalanche of lawsuits.

Actually, two of the lawsuits related to development in the Arctic Refuge's coastal plain were filed Wednesday.

One opens in a new windowby a tribal government and two village councils and another opens in a new windowby a coalition of 15 states including New Jersey and New York and Washington, but not including Alaska. 

Taken together, the lawsuits are hundreds of pages.

At the most basic level the claims very broadly boil down to alleging that the federal government glossed over the impacts that oil and gas development could have on the land, wildlife, climate and subsistence. And, they say, the government failed to follow numerous environmental laws when developing the plans. 

RELATED: opens in a new window'We will give you one heck of a fight': Lawsuits filed against oil drilling plan for Alaska's Arctic Refuge

Here's how EarthJustice attorney Kate Glover summarized the claims in opens in a new windowone of the Arctic Refuge lawsuits:

"The problem is that BLM is pushing prioritizing oil and gas over all other purposes… all of the claims in the lawsuit are targeting their failure to take into account the impacts on Indigenous communities, wildlife, subsistence and recreational wilderness values of the refuge."

The Bureau of Land Management counters that its actions are lawful and based on the best available science.

[GROVE]: So what's the status of the lawsuits currently?

Well, they're all in U.S. District Court in Alaska, so federal court. We've got the two just filed. And there are at least four others that are still really early on in the process.

Lawyers say the NPR-A lawsuits will likely start moving through the court process once the federal government issues its final decision on a management plan.

And, lawyers who filed two other Arctic Refuge lawsuits say they're now waiting on the federal government to answer the complaint. One lawyer I spoke with said a ruling from the judge may not come for a year or so.

[GROVE]: Can the federal government move ahead with a lease sale with lawsuits ongoing?

[HANLON]: The short answer is: Right now, yes.

The Bureau of Land Management says "there is no legal prohibition" right now for it to move forward with a lease sale, in the case of the Arctic Refuge, or a final decision on a management plan, in the case of the NPR-A.

Then if a judge rules in a way that makes the lease sale or the management plan invalid, well, that's a whole other conversation for us to have.

Also: I was curious if the filing of the lawsuits would have any impact on oil companies' decisions on where to drill.

Lawyers who filed the lawsuit are hopeful that's the case.

But Kara Moriarty who leads the Alaska Oil and Gas Association says she doubts it. She says the lawsuits aren't surprising.

"Lawsuits have just become a way of life. And it was not surprising to us. If the industry was concerned about lawsuits these days, they'd probably never invest in Alaska anymore in the oil and gas industry. Trying to use lawsuits to keep resources in the ground has become a tried and trued page out of a playbook by groups."

[GROVE]: Well, to close out: Any ETA at this point on a lease sale or official decision on the NPR-A management plan?

[HANLON]: No, no set date announced publicly at this point. That's the million-dollar question.

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org and Casey Grove at cgrove@alaskapublic.org.

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