By William (Bill) Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)
““No one is perfect – that’s why pencils have erasers.”, Wolfgang Riebe, Keynote Speaker/Magician
““Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive good things and good people will be drawn to you.”, Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast
“You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety”, Abraham Maslow
Our biweekly newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment and travel.
Highlights in issue #28:
- Lots of international airline announcements in the Global and Regional Travel Updates section below
Our Information Sources
We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing environment. Our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covers 43 countries and provides us with updates about what is happening in their specific countries.
Please feel free to send us your input and sources of information. Our contact information is at the bottom of this newsletter.
First, a few Personal Comments
According to Bloomberg, as of April 18th more than 894 million (vaccine) doses have been administered across 155 countries. The latest rate was roughly 16.6 million doses a day. Still too low in the European Union and some parts of the Asia Pacific region. Airlines are increasing northern hemisphere summer schedules. The U.S. and United Kingdom are reopening businesses and consumers are spending. Global savers stockpiled US$5.4 trillion during COVID and are ready to spend.
The International Monetary Fund sees global GDP growth this year at over 6%. While the trends are in the right direction, faster vaccine distribution over the next few months is the key to business coming back in 2021.
Global Vaccine Update
“This map shows the number of COVID-19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people within a given population. Note that this is counted as a single dose, and may not equal the total number of people vaccinated, depending on the specific dose regime as several available COVID vaccines require multiple doses.”, Our World in Data, April 18, 2021
“99.992% of fully vaccinated people have dodged COVID, CDC data shows. No vaccine is 100% effective. But the COVID vaccines seem pretty darn good. The numbers suggest that breakthroughs occur at the teeny rate of less than 0.008 percent of fully vaccinated people—and that over 99.992 percent of those vaccinated have not contracted a SARS-CoV-2 infection.”, ARS Technica, April 15, 2021
Interesting Data and Studies
“Ramadan begins around the world amid Covid restrictions. Millions of Muslims are celebrating the start of Ramadan, a festival that includes a month of fasting and prayer. As Ramadan begins on 13 April, some Muslim communities will find their traditional practises affected by restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.”, BBC News, April 13, 2021
“Global growth is projected at 6% in 2021, moderating to 4.4% in 2022. The projections for 2021 and 2022 are stronger than in the October 2020 WEO. The upward revision reflects additional fiscal support in a few large economies, the anticipated vaccine-powered recovery in the second half of 2021, and continued adaptation of economic activity to subdued mobility.” International Monetary Fund, March 23, 2021
“WTO revises global trade forecast higher, as stimulus keeps demand intact and China dominates exports. Global merchandise trade is expected to rise by 8 per cent this year. WTO officials warn that the lopsided distribution of vaccines globally presents the biggest risk to a full recovery in global trade.”, South China Morning Post, March 31, 2021
“Global savers’ $5.4tn stockpile offers hope for post-Covid spending. Households amass extra cash equivalent to 6% of world output since pandemic began. Consumers around the world have stockpiled an extra $5.4tn of savings since the coronavirus pandemic began and are becoming increasingly confident about the economic outlook, paving the way for a strong rebound in spending as businesses reopen.
“BAROMETER OF FINANCIAL MARKETS MARCH INVESTMENT OUTLOOK: Let the rally continue. Ample monetary and fiscal stimulus should provide a strong boost to the economy and corporate profits. Which is why we continue to favour cyclical stocks.”, Pictet Asset Management, April 2021
Global and Regional Travel Updates
“Hopes rise for Britain’s summer getaway season. Hopes that the great British getaway would be possible this summer grew on Wednesday, with easyJet (EZJ.L) predicting that most of Europe would be open for travel and British Airways confident on routes to the U.S., despite ongoing uncertainty. Europe’s travel industry, battered by the pandemic, is counting on British holidaymakers to lead a tourism rebound this summer. After one of the world’s fastest vaccination programmes, Britons could be permitted to travel from late May.”, Reuters, April 14, 2021
“Etihad Airways Launches Historic Service From Abu Dhabi To Israel. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has launched a twice-weekly regular service between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Tel Aviv (TLV), marking the latest development in the warming relations between the two nations. The Abu Dhabi/Israel flights reflect ‘the growing cooperation between the two nations following the establishment of diplomatic, trade and tourism ties,’ according to an Etihad press release.”, Forbes, April 7, 2021
“Mexican Carriers Start April with Good News. Although Latin America is going through a difficult time due to new outbreaks of COVID-19, positive news has come out in Mexico regarding the development and recovery of its airline sector. Viva Aerobus, Mexico’s ultra-low-cost airline, surpassed one million passengers in March 2021, a growth of 67.7% compared to last February.”, Airline Geeks, April 10, 2021
“Qantas Airways Airbus A380 Fleet Returning to the Skies. ‘All of the A380s, we believe, will be reactivated. QF CEO Alan Joyce said at a CAPA Live virtual conference on Wednesday that the airline had invested a lot of money on them. ‘They’ll be good aircraft once demand is there.’”, Airways Magazine, April 14, 2021
“Airlines are ‘run off their feet’ as thousands of Australians book flights back to New Zealand after travel bubble announcement – but one carrier refuses to take to the skies. Airlines have added hundreds of services between Australia and New Zealand. Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand are among the airlines offering services. But Virgin Australia will not offer flights across to New Zealand before October
“France Set To Ban Short Domestic Flights in Favor of Train Travel. In a dramatic plan to cut airline emissions and help the environment, France is set to ban short domestic flights in favor of train travel if the trip can be taken in two-and-a-half hours or less.”, Travel Pulse, April 13, 2021
“Heathrow warns travelers to brace for up to 6-hour queues. Travelers are already stuck in queues for COVID-19 testing that are several hours long at the moment, and airport officials describe the situation as “untenable.” According to The Times, wait times are “well in excess of two hours and up to six,” and are expected to get worse.”, The Points Guy, April 15, 2021
“Israel to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists from May 23. As of May 23, limited numbers of fully vaccinated tourists will be allowed to enter Israel on a leisure basis in groups. Once the borders have reopened to vaccinated travelers, it will be the first time in more than a year that Israel has reopened to non-citizens. Following an extremely successful vaccination program to date, Israel is ready to welcome back tourists who have been fully vaccinated from COVID-19 this summer.”, The Points Guys, April 13, 2021
“Australia considers staggered reopening of borders. Australia will consider a staggered reopening of its international borders to allow residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel abroad first, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday. Australian citizens and permanent residents cannot leave the country due to coronavirus restrictions unless they have an exemption, while returning international travelers have to quarantine in hotels for two weeks at their own expense.”, Reuters, April 15, 2021
“Greece accelerates reopening, plans to welcome tourists back from next week. A Greek official said on Wednesday that the country will reopen to fully vaccinated travelers coming from the United States from next week. Additionally, Americans who have received a negative COVID-19 test will be permitted to enter.”, The Points Guy, April 14, 2021
“Business Travel Is Dead, Long Live Business Travel. It’s unclear whether business travel will make a full comeback to pre-pandemic levels, but two things have happened. First, the past year has permanently changed the way companies think about business travel and how they’ll approach it in the future. Second, technology has a huge role to play not only as a substitute for travel, but as a catalyst for regrowth in the travel industry itself.”, Forbes, April 1, 2021
“China ‘could start easing international travel restrictions by next spring’ if it hits coronavirus vaccination targets. The country aims to inoculate at least 70 per cent of its population by then, which would allow China to start negotiating an end to border restrictions. But Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai’s Covid-19 team, warns that it risks falling behind other major economies if take-up rates stay low.”, South China Morning Post, April 6, 2021
Country & Regional Updates
“Most Australian workers don’t want to return to offices after Covid and businesses say they likely never will – as work-from-home increases productivity. Just 17 per cent of professionals want to come back to the office permanently.”, The London Daily Mail, April 12, 2021
“The Federal government has expanded its guaranteed recovery loan scheme to include SME’s that are eligible flood-affected businesses, according to a government statement. Eligible businesses, including self-employed individuals and non-profit businesses, must have received JobKeeper payments between January 4 and March 28, and/or be located or operating in eligible Local Government Areas (LGAs) impacted by the March floods. Secured and unsecured loans of up to $5 million are available through participating commercial lenders and interest rates are flexible but capped at 7.5%. Loans can be used to support investment and re-finance pre-existing debt, among other things. Loans will be available from 1 April to 31 December 2021.”, Franchise News newsletter, April 15, 2021, Jason Gehrke, Managing Director, the Franchise Advisory Centre, Brisbane
“Australia flags mass inoculation amid COVID-19 vaccine turmoil. The federal government and states will discuss setting up mass vaccination centres from as early as June for people above 50, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, when the country would have moved to its next immunisation phase.”, Reuters, April 13, 2021
“Brazil ‘back to business’ in 2-3 months as vaccinations accelerate, economy minister says. ‘We think that probably two, three months from now Brazil could be back to business. Of course, probably economic activity will take a drop but it will be much, much less than the drop we suffered last year … and much, much shorter,’ (Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo) Guedes said. To achieve that, Brazil must speed up mass vaccination, which Guedes hailed as the country’s most important fiscal policy right now.”, Reuters, April 6, 2021
“Chinese Economy Grew More Than 18% in First Quarter. The year-over-year GDP growth rate will almost certainly trend lower in coming quarters. The rate of gross domestic product growth in the first three months of 2021 was sharply higher than the 6.5% year-over-year growth recorded in the final quarter of 2020, though it fell short of the 19.2% growth expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.”, The Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2021
“China factory gate prices rise by most in nearly 3 years as economic recovery quickens. China’s producer price index (PPI) rose 4.4% in annual terms, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement, far above a 3.5% rise forecast in a Reuters poll and up sharply from a 1.7% increase in February.”, Reuters, April 8, 2021
“China’s imports from US set record in first quarter, but their trade imbalance grows on strong Chinese exports. Analysts tie China’s broader import rise to higher global commodity prices and stronger domestic demand, particularly in construction sector. China’s overall export growth stayed high in first quarter and ‘may now be peaking’, analyst says, as policy support is removed and vaccine roll-outs start to reverse pandemic-induced demand for Chinese goods.”, South China Morning Post, April 13, 2021
“China Services Expansion Hits Three-Month High, Caixin PMI Shows. The Caixin China General Services Business Activity Index, which gives an independent snapshot of operating conditions in the services sector, rose to 54.3 in March from 51.5 the previous month.”, Caixin Global, April 6, 2021
“Czechs start to ease lockdown, youngest kids back to schools. The Czech Republic has taken its first steps toward easing a tight lockdown. As the coronavirus pandemic eases up in the Czech Republic, one of the European Union’s hardest-hit countries took its first steps on Monday toward easing of its tight lockdown.”, ABC News, April 12, 2021
“Europe’s pandemic-stricken economy could return to pre-crisis levels next year, IMF says. European countries have been forced to introduce new restrictions or toughen previous public health measures in recent weeks as Covid infections have surged. There’s uncertainty over how the pandemic will evolve, particularly when it comes to potential new variants and the speed of the vaccination rollout. The IMF said it expected to see high prices in the continent throughout 2021.”, CNBC, April 14, 2021
“In its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union has had some ups and lots of downs – particularly when it comes to vaccine acquisition and distribution. Use of one of the leading vaccines, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, was temporarily suspended and/or restricted over potential health risks, leading some European countries to seek alternatives in Russia or China.”, Geopolitical Futures, April 9, 2021
“India is facing a sudden spike in covid-19 cases. Hit with a second wave of infections, the country has become the new coronavirus hotspot. On March 1st, the number of new cases reported was around 12,000. By April 1st it was more than 80,000. On April 13th, it was about 185,000.”, The Economist, April 14, 2021
“‘People say they feel safer’ – Singapore now has one-third of global cruise travellers. To date, more than 120,000 residents of Singapore have taken a cruise, and sailings have now been extended until October. The city-state, which contains a population of 5.7 million on an island smaller than New York City, was able to achieve what it has because of its robust health safety framework, Singapore Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer Keith Tan said at a conference.”, The Independent of Dublin, April 18, 2021
“Singapore posts surprise economic growth in first quarter, with GDP expanding 0.2 per cent year on year. The growth was driven by manufacturing, which expanded 7.5 per cent year on year, as well as electronics, precision engineering, chemicals and biomedical sectors.”, South China Morning Post, April 14, 2021
United Arab Emirates
“Rescheduled Dubai Expo hopes to attract 25 million visits. Held every five years, expos see hundreds of countries using pavilions to show off the latest in architecture and technology. Before the pandemic forced the event to be postponed, organisers had expected 25 million visits during the course of the six-month international fair. It will now run from 1 October to 31 March 2022.”, BBC News, April 11, 2021
“COVID-19: Zoos, pools, theme parks and restaurants on the menu as England’s restrictions ease. Non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality can be enjoyed again from today. It’s the day millions have been waiting for as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased in England.”, SKY News, April 13, 2021
“WH Smith is going places … as long as we’re cleared for take-off……RBC picked WH Smith, the retailer, as a prime beneficiary of the “strong pent-up demand for travel” once the pandemic has passed. “We think WH Smith’s major international markets are providing an encouraging precedent for a recovery in UK travel demand and we expect its relative position to strengthen post the pandemic,” Richard Chamberlain, its retail analyst, said.”, The London Sunday Times, April 17, 2021
“Here’s What Happened in the London Restaurant World This Week…Restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars reopened outdoors. On Monday 12 April, restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars reopened for outdoor dining — subject to social distancing and the “rule of six” household mixing rules — after their third coronavirus lockdown. In the first week of gardens, terraces, and tables on streets, here’s how it went.”, Eater London, April 16, 2021
“Builders full of joys of spring but prices rise. The March purchasing managers’ index for construction easily beat expectations, jumping to 61.7 from 53.3 in February, its highest reading since September 2014 and above forecasts for 54.6. Readings above 50 indicate growth. Every sector of the industry enjoyed robust growth.”, The Times of London, April 9, 2021
“Disneyland fans waiting hours online for a chance to buy a theme park ticket. Californians trying to get tickets to visit the Happiest Place on Earth after a year-long pandemic shutdown found themselves waiting in line — online — just to get a chance to enter the theme park, where waiting in line is part of the Disney experience.”, San Francisco Chronicle, April 15, 2021
“Small Business Job Openings At Record Level Says New Study. The NFIB’s latest monthly jobs report found 42% of small business owners had job openings they could not fill in the current period – a record reading. The result is based on data from March, and is 20 points higher than the 48-year historical average of 22%. ‘Where small businesses do have open positions, labor quality remains a significant problem for owners nationwide,’ said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. ‘Small business owners are raising compensation to attract the right employees.’”, Franchising.com, April 12, 2021
“Small Businesses’ Uneven Recovery. A year into the pandemic, owners are still struggling as signs of hope emerge. Because of safety measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, many businesses that depend on gathering people in a physical space, such as gyms, hotels, nail salons, movie theaters, and restaurants, have struggled. Meanwhile, many that don’t depend on people spending time in their space have flourished.”, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 16, 2021
“Chicken Sandwiches Take On The World: In the last year, a staggering number of fried chicken sandwiches have made their debut at chain restaurants in the U.S. But it looks like operators around the world are also feeding the craving, according to Technomic’s Global Foodservice Navigator Program. The program’s Spring 2021 report showcases no fewer than eight riffs of the ubiquitous fried chicken sandwich on chain menus in other countries.”, Restaurant Business, April 9, 2021
“Carl’s Jr. Los Angeles Store to Offer All Plant-Based Menu on Earth Day. ‘We are excited to give our fans a fun, delicious way to celebrate Earth Day this year with a full plant-based meat experience at Carl’s Jr.,’ says Patty Trevino, senior vice president of brand marketing at CKE Restaurants. ‘With nearly one-third of consumers identifying as flexitarian, we continue to innovate on new ways for our guests to enjoy our iconic charbroiled burgers with our Beyond Meat partnership.’”, QSR Magazine, April 15, 2021
“Duck Donuts sold to NewSpring Capital affiliate and Betsy Hamm is promoted to CEO. Founder Russ DiGilio, who founded Duck Donuts in 2007 in the town of Duck, N.C., on the state’s Outer Banks, and started franchising in 2013, remains a “significant owner” of the concept and will be a member of the chain’s newly formed board of directors.”, Nation’s Restaurant News, April 13, 2021
“Chick-fil-A tests robot delivery in Southern California. The quick-service chain has partnered with semi-autonomous robot company Kiwibot for robotic deliveries in Santa Monica. Los Angeles-based Kiwibot will be serving Chick-fil-A customers in Santa Monica with the newest version of its robots, which are semi-autonomous — humans operate them remotely, but the rovers are equipped to complete some commands on their own.”, Nation’s Restaurant News, April 15, 2021
“McDonald’s to hire 25,000 staff in Texas this month. Last year, McDonald’s hired around 260,000 restaurant staff in the United States when stores reopened for diners after serving them through delivery, drive-thru and takeaway for weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”, Reuters, April 8, 2021
“StretchLab Signs Master Franchise Agreement for at Least 50 Studios in Australia. The first studio is expected to open in mid-2021 in Perth. StretchLab is one of nine brands owned by U.S. franchisor Xponential Fitness, a curator of leading boutique fitness brands with more than 1,750 studios open worldwide.”, Franchising.com, April 16, 2021
Articles About Doing Business Going Forward
“Digital Transformation in Global Franchising. As we look ahead to a new world of global business, digital business transformation has accelerated and become the way companies will be successful in 2021 and beyond. Franchisors have increased brand innovation and operational efficiency to meet changing customer expectations, reduced product and service costs, made supply chain changes and improved product and service quality.”, Franchising.com, April 2021
“Brave New World of Consumer Marketing Opportunities Dawns as Covid-19 Subsides. Delivery is now a way of life. Businesses will offer people more ways to connect and socialize. Use technology to sell to customers in new ways.”, Franchising.com, April 14, 2021
“The pros and cons of working remotely. Gartner’s recent survey finds that about 70% of employees wish to continue some form of remote work. Twitter and Facebook have already given their employees permission to work remotely on a permanent basis. On the other hand, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon calls remote work an “aberration,” urging employees to return to the office to collaborate on ideas.”, Fortune, April 17, 2020
“A new study suggests that “Zoom fatigue” is worse for women than men. The condition will remain a feature of work life, even after employees return to the office. Having endured endless virtual meetings over the past year, many workers are unsurprisingly complaining about “Zoom fatigue”. Videoconferencing can be exhausting.”, The Economist, April 17, 2021
“Senior Care Around the World: Innovation and Bright Ideas from Countries Across the Globe. As the United States grapples with the realities of its large and aging Baby Boom generation, other countries are experiencing similar demographic trends. China, for instance, will have an over-65 population of roughly 500 million people by 2050. The worldwide preponderance of seniors is causing many countries to reassess how they pay for care, manage the needs of those afflicted with dementia, prevent isolation and otherwise show compassion to those who have worked hard throughout their lives and now need support”, Arosa, April 18, 2021
“The post-pandemic office dilemma: Who returns and who works from home? Organizations must decide what happens to the pre-pandemic perks—the gyms, game rooms, and other amenities that defined daily office culture. As we look back on nearly a year of work-from-home data, the results have been overwhelmingly positive—with most remote employees proving to be more productive, while also enjoying the flexibility that can come from a remote setup.”, Fast Company, January 28, 2021
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William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, is CEO and Global Advisor of Edwards Global Services (EGS). He has 46 years of international operations, development, executive and entrepreneurial experience and has lived in 7 countries. With experience in the franchise, oil and gas, information technology and management consulting sectors, he has directed projects on-site in Alaska, Asia, Europe and the Middle and Near East. Mr. Edwards advises a wide range of companies on early to long term global development of their brands.
For truly global market research, operations and development support across 40 countries, contact Mr. Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 949 224 3896.
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