NUMBER OF THE DAY

It’s the fastest workforce expansion in the history of corporate America

427,300 — The number of employees Amazon hired between January and October this year, increasing its workforce size by 50%
427,300 — The number of employees Amazon hired between January and October this year, increasing its workforce size by 50%
Photo illustration, source: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

427,300: That’s how many employees Amazon added to its workforce between January and October this year. The company now has 1.2 million employees, 50% more than last year, making its recent hiring spree the most rapid workforce expansion in corporate America ever, according to the New York Times.

No company exemplifies how much the pandemic has favored large corporations as much as Amazon. …


Number of the Day

Consumers are spending an average of $50 less on gifts, decor, and other holiday purchases this year

Marker Number of the Day: $997.79 — Estimated holiday spending, per consumer, in 2020 (Source: National Retail Federation)
Marker Number of the Day: $997.79 — Estimated holiday spending, per consumer, in 2020 (Source: National Retail Federation)
Photo illustration, source: freestocks/Unsplash

$997.79: That’s the average amount that consumers are expected to spend this holiday season on gifts, décor, and “non gift” purchases (for themselves or family), per CNBC. The curiously specific number comes from a National Retail Federation survey of 7,660 consumers, but what’s most notable is that it’s down about $50 from last year — the biggest dip in more than a decade, after climbing steadily since the Great Recession.

This is certain to be the most unpredictable holiday shopping season in recent memory. With virus numbers spiking and economic uncertainty looming, retailers have already been working to both adapt to and influence new consumer habits. Everyone expects more online shopping this year, and many stores extended sales through the month to discourage the traditional Black Friday crush; a separate survey found more than half of shoppers had already started their holiday buying by late October. At the same time, a surprising number of consumers have reportedly headed back to the mall, specifically hoping to avoid Black Friday mobs — but also to get holiday shopping done before any potential new lockdowns. …


Number of the Day

The Netflix miniseries has sparked a new surge of interest in the centuries-old game

1,048% — Year-over-year increase in sales of chess sets at Goliath Games following the release of Netflix’s The Queens Gambit
1,048% — Year-over-year increase in sales of chess sets at Goliath Games following the release of Netflix’s The Queens Gambit
Photo illustration, source: Jani Kaasinen/Unsplash

1,048%: That’s how much November sales of chess sets from games maker Goliath Games increased over last year, following the release of the Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, according to NPR. Other games makers also saw demand for chess sets spike as the show gained popularity.

The seven-episode miniseries, released by Netflix in late October, is based on a 1983 novel about a female orphan chess prodigy growing up in the male-dominated world of competitive chess in the 1950s and ’60s. The show became Netflix’s most-watched limited scripted series, and its fourth biggest TV show overall. …


A diorama of a neighborhood with model homes
A diorama of a neighborhood with model homes
Photo credit: jhorrocks / Getty Images

With mortgage rates at historic lows and hordes of mostly urban, stir-crazy Americans desperate for more space, The Great Housing Boom of 2020 has been one of the hottest pandemic-fueled market trends of the year — and that’s good news for Zillow. In fact, an entire digital community of aspirational home buyers, or Zillow surfers, are flocking to popular home buying sites as a form of escapism, reports Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times. “People bond over listings on Discord servers, group chats, and ‘Zillow Twitter,’” she writes, “and their obsession has made many strange and obscure listings go viral.” It sure beats doom scrolling.


Number of the Day

Turkey is three times cheaper today than it was in the mid-20th century

Marker Number of the Day: 3x — How much cheaper a 16-pound turkey is in 2020 than it was in 1935 (Source: Future Human)
Marker Number of the Day: 3x — How much cheaper a 16-pound turkey is in 2020 than it was in 1935 (Source: Future Human)
Photo illustration, source: Davies and Starr/The Image Bank/Getty Images Plus

3x: That’s how many times the price of a 16-pound turkey has fallen in the last 85 years, from $61 in 1935 (adjusted for inflation) to $19.39 today, according to data from the USDA and the American Farm Bureau survey, as reported by Future Human.

Farmer Georgie writes on Future Human about changes in the turkey industry beginning in the 1950s that lowered the price of turkey, which included a shift from heritage turkey breeds raised on family farms to today’s white-feathered, broad-breasted turkeys, which are bred for their ability to grow quickly and produce large quantities of meat. …


Number of the Day

The expiration of expanded unemployment benefits on January 1 will affect more than just out-of-work Americans

$150 Billion: How much total income unemployed workers are expected to lose next quarter after relief programs expire
$150 Billion: How much total income unemployed workers are expected to lose next quarter after relief programs expire
Photo illustration, source: NoDerog/iStock/Getty Images Plus

$150 Billion: That’s how much total income unemployed workers are expected to lose in the first quarter of 2021 after expanded unemployment insurance programs expire on January 1, according to a Deutsche Bank estimate cited by the Wall Street Journal. The resulting impact on consumer spending could “shave a percentage point off economic output,” the Journal noted.

When the pandemic’s spread in the U.S. caused a nationwide shutdown of many businesses, unemployment numbers skyrocketed — and the government responded, with Congress passing massive relief packages. …


Number of the Day

By the end of the year, Pfizer will have enough of its Covid-19 vaccine to immunize 25 million people

Marker Number of the Day — 25 million: Roughly how many people Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine can protect by the end of the year
Marker Number of the Day — 25 million: Roughly how many people Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine can protect by the end of the year
Photo Illustration, source: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

25 million: That’s how many people the pharmaceutical company Pfizer says its Covid-19 vaccine can protect by the end of 2020, according to Reuters.

This month, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and, most recently, AstraZeneca-Oxford all published promising results from robust trials of Covid-19 vaccines. Given the indications that these vaccines are effective, the question now turns to when they can be rolled out to the public.

Last week, Pfizer asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve its vaccine for emergency use. The FDA will meet to make that call on December 10. Unlike Moderna, which received $2.5 billion to develop its mRNA vaccine from the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer did not use government money to develop its vaccine. But it did sign a $1.95 …


NUMBER OF THE DAY

Social distancing requirements have sent Santas online and behind plexiglass

Image for post
Image for post
Photo illustration, source: RichLegg/Getty Images

500%: That’s the increase over last year in virtual Santa Claus visits on HireSanta, a platform where retailers and event organizers can book Santa appearances, via Bloomberg Businessweek.

Santa Claus has been an in-person fixture at shopping malls every holiday season for decades. But as the third wave of coronavirus infections continues to rage across America, Santa — one of the malls’ biggest end-of-year draws — is largely missing this year, imperiling the already meager footfall for retail stores. Just 45% of Americans say they plan to visit a mall this holiday season, down from 64% last year.

Still, not all retailers have given up on making St. Nick available to the families who want to greet him. Some have him wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance from the families who come to visit, others are putting Santa behind plexiglass. Bloomberg reports that HireSanta also offers custom plexiglass “Santa shields” that allow children to sit beside Santa and talk to him without the risk of infection. …

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