Numlock News: November 24, 2020 • Clorox, Chernobyl, C. Elegans
By Walt Hickey
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The United Kingdom exported £1.48 billion, or roughly $1.97 billion, worth of television in the 2019-20 season, which was up 6 percent year over year. Dramas produced by U.K. companies were responsible for 48 percent of the revenue, shows like Chernobyl, His Dark Materials and Doctor Who, and factual or documentary programming made up 28 percent of it. About 32 percent of those television exports went to the United States, roughly £466 million in fact, up £22 million from the previous year.
Denmark’s mink cull amid a coronavirus outbreak among the mammals has cast new light on the European fur industry and its imperiled future. The 228 infected herds of mink have been killed, and about 10 million animals that had been bound for apparel have been put down, with the majority of the remaining mink unaffected by the coronavirus believed to have been mostly put down as well. This has in just a few weeks wiped out the fur industry of Denmark, which had been the largest such business in Europe. In 2018, the totality of Europe’s 4,350 fur farms produced 34.7 million mink skins, 2.6 million fox skins, 227,000 chinchilla and 116,000 finnraccoon, but now the largest fur auction house in the world — Kopenhagen Fur — has gone so far as to announce a controlled shutdown over the next two to three years. The industry is moving to China.
The first of four major studies sponsored by Canopy Growth Corp., a marijuana company, into the long-term effects of CBD use has not turned up anything immediately dire, which, I guess call me old-fashioned, is information that probably should have been confirmed before putting it on store shelves, yeah? This study of 3,504 C. Elegans worms dosed with large quantities of CBD found no premature death among the treated worms compared to the control group, and at doses that were comparable to humans, activity among the worms increased 206 percent. In general, CBD is less understood than THC — which has pretty unambiguous, well-documented, and notorious direct impacts on the human body — but has been made available in a wide number of topical and other treatments and sold as a generally safe substance with vaguely positive if ill-defined impacts on the human body.
A survey of 161 salon owners conducted by the Nail Industry Federation of New York found that visits to nail salons were down 50 percent and sales were down 40 percent in the month of October compared to normal. According to a survey from the New York Nail Salon Workers Association, which advocates for the people who work in the salons — often women, and primarily immigrant workers who live paycheck to paycheck — less than half of about 600 workers surveyed had returned to work as of August. New York is home to a significant number of nail salons — 4,240 as of 2016, with 5 percent of the nail salons in the entire United States located in Brooklyn and Queens alone. Though they’ve been able to open in the city at 50 percent capacity as of July, what once was a laborious yet reliable job for new Americans is no longer reliable.
New tech rollouts and changing consumer preferences are making lots of things that had been seen as the distant future of grocery shopping into the immediate present. An August survey from the National Retail Federation found that 58 percent of retailers accepted contactless card payments, up from 40 percent a year ago. The rise of BOPIS — buy online, pick up in-store — has cemented a practice once niche or a bit faddish, with 56 percent of respondents to a McKinsey survey this summer reporting they plan to continue to BOPIS after the end of the pandemic, which means I really need you guys to figure out a better way to describe this process that isn’t BOPIS because I simply refuse to have the word BOPIS become a permanent, if not central, jargon in the future of retail. It’s ridiculous, and if some crusty Kroger CFO says BOPIS 50 times on a 2023 earnings call, we relinquished an opportunity to make our world a better place from the ashes of this year.
Facebook made 99 percent of its overall revenue in the third quarter from advertising, but it’s potentially in a bit of a pickle: The advertisements on their two core platforms, Facebook and Instagram, may be reaching a saturation point. The company has increased the number of ads on its platforms by a lot: the third quarter of 2020 had 35 percent more ads served than the third quarter of 2019, which itself had 37 percent more ads served than the third quarter of 2018, which itself saw 25 percent more ads than Q3 2017, and so on. Given the saturation, ad prices began to decline in the back half of 2018, and in Q2 2020, ad prices were down 21 percent year over year. Now normally the solution would be to just buy another social network so they’d have more real estate to expand their ads, but this is actually difficult given the whole anti-trust vibe in D.C. these days.
Clorox has been churning out disinfecting wipes at a clip never before attained, and it’s still not enough: after adding 10 third-party manufacturers and running its own shop 24 hours per day, they’re getting one million packages of wipes rolling off the factory floor every single day. Even still, they’re getting snapped up the moment they hit the shelves. Rival Lysol is no different, aiming to produce 35 million cans of Lysol spray every month in North America by the end of the year, about triple their pre-pandemic output.
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