What's going on?
Data out on Thursday showed that European retail sales didn’t grow as fast as expected in February, but those pennies aren’t exactly going to pinch themselves.
What does this mean?
Retail sales in Europe rose just 0.3% in February from the month before – short of the 0.6% economists were expecting. And this is before the effects of war in Ukraine really came to a head, which is a problem: European consumer confidence has only been falling – and inflation only rising – ever since. And given that consumer spending makes up a huge chunk of the region’s economy, economists think the slowdown will play a major part in dragging down economic growth this quarter.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Be more direct.
With retailers making fewer sales, they’re looking for ways to profit more from those they are making. So they’ve been veering away from wholesalers and third-party marketplaces, which take a cut of the profits and hoard data on shopping habits for themselves. Levi’s knows what’s up: “direct sales” – those that cut out the middleman – made up around 40% of its total sales last quarter, helping the denim giant grow its profit by a better-than-expected 37% (tweet this).
Zooming out: Crypto has you covered.
We know what you’re thinking: couldn’t European businesses just let shoppers pay with bitcoin to boost business? That same question might’ve crossed Bolt Financial’s mind: the US company – which specializes in online checkout operating systems – announced on Thursday that it’s buying crypto infrastructure provider Wyre Payments for a reported $1.5 billion. Bolt – which counts major retailers like Forever 21 and Juicy Couture as customers – is looking to incorporate digital currency payments onto its platform, in a bid to make paying for Ben & Jerry’s with bitcoin the norm.