Gap to Close 30% of Stores as It Reduces Mall Footprint

U.S. airlines report a 70 percent hit to revenue last quarter.

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Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Gap Inc., the owner of the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy chains, has long been synonymous with the American shopping mall. But now it’s rushing to get out of a slew of malls, many of which are struggling, as the company repositions its decades-old brands to adapt to changes in how people shop.

The company plans to close 30 percent, or about 350, of its Gap and Banana Republic stores in North America by the beginning of 2024, executives said during a presentation to investors on Thursday. That will leave 870 total stores.

And, 80 percent of revenue from Gap and Banana Republic is expected to come from e-commerce and off-mall locations like outlet stores and strip mall spaces, said Katrina O’Connell, chief financial officer of Gap.

A decade ago, there were more than 1,700 Gap and Banana Republic stores combined in North America.

“We’ve been overly reliant on low-productivity, high-rent stores,” said Mark Breitbard, global head of the Gap brand.

Gap, which also owns Athleta and Intermix, is one of the biggest apparel retailers in the United States and has been closely watched because of how the pandemic has hurt clothing chains and shopping malls. The company, based in San Francisco, has been entangled in multiple legal battles this year with major mall owners and smaller landlords around rent payments and lease negotiations. Gap’s downsizing comes as some shoppers avoid enclosed malls based on concern around the coronavirus.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Workers at Amazon are calling on groups around the country to help shut down Amazon warehouses temporarily on Halloween if the company does not give all its employees a paid day off to vote.

The move is an escalation of the internal pressure being put on executives at the company, the country’s second-largest private employer.

In the past week, more than 6,500 Amazon corporate and tech workers have supported a proposal for all workers to get a paid day off to vote. Others have written to Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and chief executive.

The organizing is led by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, which has also mobilized thousands of corporate employees over the past year and a half to push the company to address its climate impact.

“We’ve gotten zero responses… crickets,” the group said about the company’s response to the proposal. The group called for other organizations to help close warehouses for 15 minutes on Halloween by blocking the exits used by Amazon’s trucks and vans.

The group said it had already lined up commitments from 350 Seattle, an environmental organizing group, and the King County Labor Council, a coalition of unions in the Seattle area, to try to shut down some Amazon warehouses in western Washington.

“It is really to disrupt work for the day, for at least 15 minutes, and to hold space and send a message that this is a very critical election,” said Valerie Costa, the interim executive director of 350 Seattle. “We think it is really important that the country’s second-largest employer gives time off to vote given that people are waiting in line for hours to vote.”

Amazon has more than 600,000 workers in the United States. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the call for a temporary shutdown.

Last week, a company spokeswoman, Jaci Anderson, said that in states with in-person voting, workers can request time off at the start or end of their shifts to vote, but how many hours workers are allowed, and whether they will be paid for that time, varies based on state law.

Many states require employees to be excused and paid for a few hours if voting conflicts with work schedules. But several battleground states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, do not require employers to provide paid time off for elections.

A growing number of retailers, including Walmart, offer paid time off nationwide, and some, like Best Buy and Patagonia, are closing for a few hours on Election Day, Nov. 3, so employees have time to vote.

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Pelosi Says a Stimulus Deal Is ‘Close’ and Is ‘Pleased’ With Progress

During her weekly news conference, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, were “close” to reaching a compromise in negotiations for a coronavirus relief package.

And if we were not making progress, I wouldn’t spend five seconds in these conversations. And I say that in friendship to the secretary. Why would I even be talking to you? And he says the same thing to me. “Why would I even be talking to you.” So this is not anything other than, I think, a serious attempt. I do believe that both sides want to reach an agreement. So it, it takes time because this is not planning what time we’re going to have dinner next week, this is about establishing a plan to crush a virus, to honor our heroes, to put money in the pockets of the American people, and do so in a way that does not harm our children. I’m pleased at where we are now. And if we can resolve some of these things in the next few days, it will take a while to write the bill. I hope that we could be writing, starting now. And we are putting pen to paper, and certain easier parts of the bill. But it’s close, it’s close.

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During her weekly news conference, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, were “close” to reaching a compromise in negotiations for a coronavirus relief package.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California was noncommittal on Thursday about bringing a stimulus measure to the House floor for a vote before the Nov. 3, noting that even though a deal with the Trump administration appeared to be coming together, “it takes time” to transform it into legislation.

At her weekly news conference, Ms. Pelosi said she believed she and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, were “just about there” in their negotiations to reach a compromise, although she said they had yet to agree on the two biggest sticking points. The White House is resisting Democrats’ push for $500 billion for state and local governments, while Democrats have balked at Republicans’ demands for liability protections for schools, hospitals and businesses open during the pandemic.

Even if the pair were to reach agreement on those issues, Ms. Pelosi said there was no guarantee it could be passed before Election Day.

“It’s not just a question of us agreeing in a room,” Ms. Pelosi said, noting that the process of writing any deal into legislative language and having the Congressional Budget Office go through it to determine an official cost could be lengthy. “It takes time.”

But she continued to maintain public optimism that an agreement could be reached and signed into law. She brushed aside public warnings from Republican senators, who have said they are unlikely to support a bill anywhere near as costly as the emerging compromise, and have suggested that there aren’t even the minimal 13 Republican votes needed to join all Democrats to advance the legislation.

“I do believe that both sides want to reach an agreement,” Ms. Pelosi said. “I can’t answer for the disarray on the Senate side.”

President Trump, who has vacillated between urging Congress “go big” in stimulus talks and shunning a deal, on Wednesday preemptively blamed Democrats for the lack of a deal, suggesting that their push for state and local aid was standing in the way.

“Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Their primary focus is BAILING OUT poorly run (and high crime) Democrat cities and states.”

In the Capitol later on Thursday, Ms. Pelosi said Democrats had sent “some stuff back over” to the administration and she expected top committee chairs “will resolve some differences, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

“That’s what we’re waiting for,” she added.

But some lawmakers and aides said it was still unclear what Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin have agreed to, and that that information is necessary in order to set the parameters for committee discussions. Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, telling reporters on Thursday there was “a lot of talk, no action.”

Credit…Sarahbeth Maney for The New York Times

The government reported on Thursday that 757,000 workers filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, a drop of 73,000 from the previous week but still a stubbornly high rate as the incipient economic recovery struggles to maintain a foothold.

Another 345,000 new claims were filed under a federal jobless program that provides benefits to freelancers, part-time workers and others during the pandemic. Neither figure is seasonally adjusted.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, new state claims totaled 787,000.

The dip in claims was welcome, but the numbers still eclipse the levels reached in previous recessions. Altogether more than 23 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment relief.

“Some recovery is better than no recovery, but we want this to be stronger,” said Ernie Tedeschi, managing director and policy economist for Evercore ISI. “It’s at risk of getting knocked off its slow momentum if we get another shock, another wave of the virus.”

Seven months into the pandemic, the nature of the job losses is changing. The hope that business interruptions would be brief and that most laid-off workers would quickly be rehired has faded. Every week, more Americans join the ranks of the long-term unemployed, defined as those out of work for more than 27 weeks.

Workers no longer eligible for state unemployment insurance can still receive 13 weeks of benefits under the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. As a result, some reductions in state jobless rolls may not mean that people are back at work, but rather that they have shifted to the federal program, Mr. Tedeschi said.

This latest report comes as coronavirus cases are again surging in the United States and as a second round of federal relief faces opposition from Senate Republicans over a possible $2 trillion price tag.

“The claims remain very elevated, and the lack of continuing fiscal aid for the unemployed is going to weigh on consumer attitudes and consumer spending,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics. “It’s a very painful reality for those households who were relying on it.”

Credit…Stefan Rousseau/Agence France-Presse, via Pool/Afp Via Getty Images

The British government on Thursday announced further economic support for businesses and workers, including a more generous wage top-up plan and grants for hospitality businesses and self-employed workers, as a second wave of coronavirus cases takes hold and more areas of the country are put under tighter restrictions.

It’s a sign of how far the government has deviated from its original expectations for managing the pandemic. Less than a month ago, the Treasury introduced a pared-back economic plan to support businesses through the winter amid concerns about rising debt levels. Since then, cases have spread across the country. The chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has now announced two updates to boost funding this month.

“There are difficult days and weeks ahead but we will get through this together,” Mr. Sunak, the country’s top finance official, told lawmakers in Parliament on Thursday. He added that it was now clear that businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry, that are allowed to stay open are “facing profound economic uncertainty” because of a drop in demand.

Mr. Sunak changed the terms of a new program that would help people working fewer hours when the current furlough program ends this month. Workers could work just one day a week, or 20 percent of their usual hours, and still be eligible for government aid to compensate for their lost wages, and employers would have to pay less to make up the difference, he said. Some critics of the original program warned that the high employer contributions would end up encouraging layoffs. Mr. Sunak also said self-employed workers would be eligible for double the value of the grants from his initial plan.

Under England’s new three-tiered system for curtailing activity in different parts of the country, businesses in the highest tier, which are forced to close, would get grants and a furlough program for their workers that would pay two-thirds of wages, Mr. Sunak said two weeks ago. In the middle tier, businesses are allowed to stay open, but households are barred from mixing indoors, which was predicted to hurt restaurants and pubs. On Thursday, Mr. Sunak introduced support plans for those middle-tier businesses and said the government would give local authorities money to pass onto hospitality and leisure firms, including hotels.

Opposition lawmakers accused Mr. Sunak of not acting fast enough to protect jobs. Data published earlier this month showed the unemployment rate had already climbed to 4.5 percent, the highest in three years, and there was a record jump of layoffs over the summer months.

Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

A former City Hall reporter for the New York Daily News has sued the paper, its top editor and its parent company, Tribune Publishing, for wrongful termination, saying she was fired after questioning why she was paid less than a male colleague who had the same job.

A complaint filed Thursday in the New York State Supreme Court said that the reporter, Anna Sanders, discussed the gap in salary with Robert York, the editor in chief, and a human resources representative in April, but no action was taken.

In June, Mr. York told Ms. Sanders, 29, that she was being fired because she had revealed “personnel information involving another employee,” the complaint said. Ms. Sanders, who had worked at the paper since April 2019, was offered severance if she agreed not to speak about her firing, according to the complaint.

Ms. Sanders said in an interview that she had raised the issue after learning that her colleague made $80,000, while she was making $78,000. “I had been covering City Hall a lot longer than him and had built up sources at that point, and had already done the job by myself for four months,” Ms. Sanders said.

Tribune Publishing declined to comment.

Ms. Sanders had covered City Hall for The Staten Island Advance and had reported on city politics for The New York Post and Metro New York, which merged with amNewYork this year (Metro is not defunct, as was earlier reported here). One of her Daily News articles was a front-page article about the disparity in pay between men and women in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.

“They allowed me to write a front-page story about the gender pay gap, so it was shocking to be fired for talking about my salary as it compares to a man and my concerns about whether or not that was fair,” she said.

Ms. Sanders is now a senior reporter for the legal news site Law360.

  • Wall Street swung from gains to losses and back again on Thursday, as investors awaited more news on a potential economic stimulus package from Washington and considered the still-high weekly unemployment claims. The S&P 500 ended the day up half a percent.

  • Sentiment on Wall Street this week has been dominated by the agonizingly slow progress toward a spending deal between Democrats and the White House. On Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, raised hopes that an agreement might be reached, before President Trump seemed to dismiss the prospects for a deal on Twitter.

  • Then on Thursday, Ms. Pelosi again signaled progress. “We’re still not there, but we can be,” Ms. Pelosi said on MSNBC. Later, at a news conference, she said she believes both sides want to reach an agreement.

  • The constantly shifting prospects for a deal have made for unsteady trading all week, with stocks swinging from gains to losses and back. But broadly, the S&P 500 is set for its first weekly decline in a month.

  • Concern about the coming election in the United States is also adding to volatility in financial markets, Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

  • “Given the ebb and flow of the news headlines, we expect markets to remain more volatile than normal,” he wrote.

  • On Thursday, unemployment claims data highlighted the urgency of another stimulus plan. New weekly claims dipped, but at 757,000 they are still staggeringly high and a sign that the economy is struggling.

Credit…Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Quibi, the beleaguered short-form content company started by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, announced on Wednesday that it was shutting down just six months after the app became available, despite raising a combined $1.75 billion in cash from Hollywood studios, the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and other investors. Ms. Whitman said that while the company had “enough capital to continue operating for a significant period of time, we made the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders and say goodbye to our talented colleagues with grace.”

  • Tesla on Wednesday reported a profit for the fifth consecutive quarter, putting it on track to report its only annual profit since its founding in 2003. Tesla said it made $331 million, or 27 cents per share, in the three months that ended in September. The company delivered 139,600 cars in the third quarter. That was a roughly 50 percent increase from the second quarter, when sales and production were severely hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. It produced 145,000 vehicles, and had revenue of $8.7 billion.

Credit…Erin Scott/Reuters

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved subpoenas of the chief executives of Twitter and Facebook to appear before Congress to defend their content moderation practices.

Democrats did not attend the vote because of a boycott over a separate vote to bring the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the floor early next week. Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman and Republican from South Carolina, proceeded with the subpoena vote, noting there is bipartisan concern over Big Tech companies.

The vote puts Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg in the hot seat over recent decisions to slow, label and take down posts. Many conservatives, including President Trump, have accused the companies of censoring conservative voices on their platforms. The subpoenas were proposed by Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who has criticized the decision by Twitter and Facebook to limit the spread of an article by The New York Post that suggested Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate, had used his position to enrich his son Hunter.

It’s unclear if a hearing before the Judiciary Committee would come before the election. Next week, Mr. Dorsey, Mr. Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, will appear before the Senate Commerce Committee to also defend their moderation of content.

Credit…Don Emmert/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines said their operating revenues were down about 70 percent in the three months through September compared to the same period last year, as the industry braces for a slow holiday season. American lost $2.4 billion over the quarter, while Southwest lost more than $1.1 billion and Alaska lost more than $430 million.

Air travel has improved somewhat steadily since early summer and reached a symbolic milestone on Sunday, when more than 1 million people were screened at federal airport checkpoints for the first time since March. But passenger volumes across major U.S. airlines are still down about 65 percent from last year, according to the industry group Airlines for America, and are expected to remain deeply depressed for the foreseeable future.

“Until we have widely-available vaccines and achieve herd immunity, we expect passenger traffic and booking trends to remain fragile,” Southwest’s chief executive, Gary C. Kelly, said in a statement. Doug Parker, American’s chief executive, agreed: “We have a long road ahead.”

Southwest also said it would start filling planes to capacity again starting Dec. 1, after capping seats in the spring. Delta Air Lines is expected to stop blocking off middle seats in the first half of next year, its chief executive said last week. United Airlines and American are not limiting seats.

Flights in the United States are carrying an average of about 74 passengers each, down from about 99 last year, according to Airlines for America. Carriers are losing about $200 million per day; those losses are expected to shrink but will continue through the winter and into next year. American said it ended September with nearly $14 billion in cash and other available liquidity, while Southwest had more than $15 billion.

IAG, the owner of British Airways and Iberia, said that its revenue declined by more than 80 percent in the third quarter compared with a year ago and the planes were only about half full. The airline group also said that it would further cut capacity for the rest of the year to just 30 percent of last year’s capacity. United and Delta last week reported large quarterly losses, too, with revenues down nearly 80 percent compared to last year.

Airlines have survived the sustained slowdown by tweaking operations, making last-minute changes to flight schedules to match demand and slashing costs, largely by encouraging tens of thousands of industry workers to take buyouts or pay cuts. This month, United and American furloughed more than 32,000 workers. With hopes of a second federal stimulus seemingly dashed, the industry will have to make do with less as it prepares for what is widely expected to be a dismal winter.

Credit…Johanna Geron/Reuters

The pandemic-fueled boom in online shopping has been accompanied by a spike in complaints about scams originating on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Reported losses from such fraud reached a record high of nearly $117 million in the first six months of 2020, compared with $134 million in all of 2019, the F.T.C. said on Wednesday. The top sources of complaints were e-commerce sites that never delivered goods to consumers, many of whom said they had found the sites through Facebook or Instagram, which Facebook owns.

“These scam ads look real and can be carefully targeted to reach a particular audience,” the trade commission said in a report. “The scammers can delete comments on their ads or posts so that negative responses don’t show up and alert people to the con.”

People also reported losing money through so-called romance scams, in which fraudsters develop online relationships with people to obtain money from them, and through social media messages that offer “supposed economic relief or income opportunities,” the F.T.C. said.

The overall number of reports that people lost money to scams starting on social media in the second quarter more than tripled from a year earlier.



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