A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.
Amazon (AMZN) has fired the starting gun for a hugely important shopping season, with retailers racing to make up as many lost sales as possible between now and the end of the year.
What’s happening: Amazon said Monday that it will host its annual Prime Day on October 13 and 14. The sales event, which normally takes place in mid-July, had been postponed because of the pandemic.
Prime Day is Amazon’s version of Christmas in the summer, and sales routinely outpace Black Friday. Coming in just before the holiday shopping season, it could help propel the company to a blockbuster fourth quarter, while encouraging other retailers to offer October promotions, too.
Investor insight: Amazon has thrived during the pandemic as consumers buy more goods online and limit visits to stores, my CNN Business colleague Nathaniel Meyersohn reports. Last quarter, across all its businesses, Amazon reported nearly $89 billion in sales, up 40% from the same period a year earlier. Shares have skyrocketed nearly 68% in 2020.
Other retailers, which were forced to close stores for months due to government restrictions, aren’t faring as well. That means they’re even more likely to start advertising discounts soon.
See here: Home Depot (HD) has said it will offer two months of Black Friday discounts starting in early November, and Best Buy (BBY) is planning to start promotions earlier this year.
How much spending Americans can cram in between October and December has big ramifications for the US economy, which is powered in large part by consumers.
The bounce in US retail sales slowed in August, raising concerns that confidence is flagging heading into a crucial shopping period. There are some positive signs, however.
Consumer spending around Halloween, a useful test ahead of the holidays, is expected to reach nearly $8.1 billion this year, according to a recent study by the National Retail Federation. That’s down from $8.8 billion in 2019. But those shelling out money for decorations and costumes are expected to spend more per person.
“Consumers’ plans to spend a record figure individually on Halloween this year sets a positive tone going into the most important season for retail sales,” Jessica Rabe of DataTrek Research said in a recent note to clients.
And stores like Amazon and Home Depot may be right to assume people will start hunting for bargains earlier than usual. The NRF survey found that four in 10 people plan to begin shopping for Halloween in September this year — and some started even sooner.
The TikTok download ban is on hold for now
TikTok won’t be kicked off of US app stores — at least not yet, my CNN Business colleague Brian Fung reports.
The latest: A federal judge on Sunday partially granted TikTok’s request for a temporary injunction against a push by the Trump administration to ban the app in the United States. The ruling blocked a US government ban on downloads of the app just hours before the policy was to take effect.
The decision is a victory for TikTok, which challenged the ban as unconstitutional and a violation of due process. The Commerce Department said late Sunday that it would comply with the injunction but intends to “vigorously defend” its order.
Get caught up: One week ago, President Donald Trump gave his blessing to a deal that would give Oracle and Walmart a combined 20% stake in a new company called TikTok Global. But the agreement still needs sign-off from Beijing, and Chinese media increasingly appears to oppose the arrangement. There’s also still a lot of confusion about the new ownership structure.
Big picture: Experts warn that Washington’s playbook for dealing with foreign companies is starting to mimic Beijing’s, amplifying the risk that the world’s internet could fracture beyond repair.
“I think there is some era of retaliation here, where, ‘Hey, if you’re going to do this to our companies — shut us out or force us to localize — then we’re going to do it to you as well,’” Dipayan Ghosh, co-director of the Digital Platforms and Democracy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School, told my CNN Business colleagues Selina Wang and Jill Disis.
K-Pop label behind BTS pulls off huge IPO
Tech companies aren’t the only ones minting money off massive stock offerings this fall.
Take a look: Big Hit Entertainment, the K-Pop label behind hugely popular boy band BTS, just scored South Korea’s biggest stock market listing in three years, my CNN Business colleagues Laura He and Jake Kwon report.
The company said Monday that it will issue stock at 135,000 won ($115) apiece, raising $822 million and valuing the company at $4.1 billion. Shares will start trading on October 15.
Fun fact: The IPO has made CEO Bang Si-Hyuk a billionaire, and all seven members of BTS are now multimillionaires. (Bang gave them each 68,385 shares in August.)
Last year, BTS became only the third group in 50 years — after The Beatles and The Monkees — to have three number one albums on the Billboard 200 charts in less than 12 months, and the band’s success has helped Big Hit carve out a lucrative empire.
But large business risks lie ahead. The company derived 97% of its revenue last year from BTS alone, and the pandemic continues to force the cancellation of concerts and other live events. That raises the question: Is the rush to snap up Big Hit shares just another example that the IPO frenzy is running too hot?
UK and EU officials meet to kick off a crucial week for Brexit. The clock is ticking for the United Kingdom to hash out a new trade agreement with the European Union and prevent a shock to trade next year.
Coming tomorrow: The first debate in the US presidential race is likely to fan discussions about market volatility heading into the November election.