The 90's are dead. Again.

According to the global investment banking firm, Jeffries, brands like FILA, Champion, and others known mostly for their 'retro' 90's designs are in trouble. Despite a surge in popularity over the past few years that had everyone wearing Supreme, sales for throwback fashion retailers going into 2020 are nothing short of worrisome. "These brands in particular are no longer driving the buzz they did [last year]," said Jeffries analyst, Janine Stichter. While brands like Zumiez and Guess "are showing relatively better staying power" than competitors like Urban Outfitters who rely more dramatically on vintage aesthetics.

Trendy hipsters shown wearing popular 90's fashion brands like FILA How will we survive?

So that's what's happening in fashion. But it's not just denim that's fading this year (see what I did there?), we also have the US economy! President Donald Trump announced this week plans to ratify a bill backing protesters in Hong Kong. China was not having it and made it clear there would be retaliation. "The standoff," as Reuters referred to it "knocked Wall Street's main indexes off record highs."

At 10:19 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 56.67 points, or 0.2%, at 28,107.33, while the S&P 500 .SPX was down 4.08 points, or 0.13%, at 3,149.55. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 9 points, or 0.1%, at 8,696.18. - Reuters

"But that's just one crappy day," you say. Tell that to Barclays! They decided this week to focus their equities on European and emerging markets going into 2020. "This market is a better bet than U.S. stocks," claims Emmanuel Cau, European equity strategist at Barclays. And of course, like everything else, Trump has something to do with it. Cau went on to state: "U.S. equities have tended to perform well in the fourth years of presidential terms, but this time around, the Trump impeachment hearings could affect investor confidence given the possible impacts on the outcome of the next election." He then threw some shade towards Senator Elizabeth Warren's policies and my eyes rolled right off the page.

Finally, let's talk Black Friday, baby! Nothing cures economic meltdown woes like good old retail therapy, am I right? (Won't help Supreme or Urban Outfitters though...they're doomed.) Shoppers dropped $4.2 billion online during Thanksgiving and are expected to spend at least $7.4 billion online today for Black Friday. Those are record highs for online sales and a nearly 15% increase over last year.

What are people buying? AirPods, apparently.

Statistics show Apple's growing domination of the wireless earbud market Apple is basically the Air Bud of earpods. The Ear Bud of airdogs? Kill me. Statista

While online sales are skyrocketing and total money spent on Black Friday has increased every year since 2008, sales in brick-and-mortar stores continue to decline. As a result, holiday season hiring for retailers has been declining since 2016 and several companies have been offering exclusive in-store sales, desperate to relive the glory days of sweet, sweet foot traffic. You know, like when hoards of people would trample each other for 20% off meaningless junk. I'm sorry, toys are not junk. Toys save lives, and that is a fact. Regardless, as thebalance.com recently reported, over 75% of popular toys are purchased online at walmart.com, so stores are screwed. Remember Toys 'R' Us? Oh boy, that's what we'll be saying about Urban Outfitters in a few years!

And that's your week in financial news!

UPDATE: a Toys 'R' Us was raised from the dead in a New Jersey mall this week. The zombie apocalypse is upon us!

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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