Today’s Coronavirus Tracker

Current updates on association response to the global COVID-19 crisis, along with a roundup of conference, travel, and business news and information.

Retail Federation Predicts Holiday Shopping Bump

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, holiday shopping is expected to grow 3.6 to 5.2 percent over 2019 sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

“After all they’ve been through, we think there’s going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz in a statement. “There are risks to the economy if the virus continues to spread, but as long as consumers remain confident and upbeat, they will spend for the holiday season.”

Although families will still do in-person shopping, NRF acknowledged there will be a significant increase in online sales.

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“With ecommerce sales up 36.7 percent year-over-year during the third quarter, many households are expected to depend on digital shopping to make many of their holiday purchases, just as they have for much of their everyday spending this year,” the group noted in a press release.

While NRF paints the rosiest picture, other retail groups predict slightly more modest sales growth. NRF President Matthew Shay acknowledged forecasts vary. “We know that the end of the year holidays have historically surprised us,” he told Forbes. “Our view is that the outlook for the holiday season is very bright.”

Recent Headlines

The Shift to Remote Work Carries an Inherent Risk (Financial Times, 11/24/2020) “This year’s mass experiment with remote working has, for some, triggered a prickling sense of unease: if I can do my job from home in London, Brooklyn, or Canberra, could someone else do it more cheaply from Sofia, Mumbai, or Manila? In the corporate world, we might have enjoyed skipping commutes and ditching office wear, but will we feel as smug in a few years if we have joined factory workers in the ranks of the ‘left behind?’”

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Now Comes the Hardest Part: Getting a Coronavirus Vaccine From Loading Dock to Upper Arm (Washington Post, 11/23/2020) “To start with, vaccination efforts may favor urban areas. That’s because the vaccines will arrive in big batches: For Pfizer, the minimum order is 975 doses. Moderna’s smallest batch is 100 doses. In Alaska, ‘you’re not going to have 900 people within 1,000 square miles,’ said Danny Staley, a senior vice president at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. ‘You’re wanting to do that at a mass vaccination clinic, where we know people can use it so we don’t waste it,’ he said.”

Can Employers Force Employees to Get a Coronavirus Vaccine? (Forbes, 11/20/2020) “With a vaccine seemingly just around the corner, many employers now face the prospect of deciding whether or not they should have their employees get the coronavirus vaccine. For many employees, it’ll be a choice. For others, it might be a requirement. But is an employer legally allowed to require employees to get the coronavirus vaccine? As a general rule, yes, an employer may impose a vaccination mandate for its employees.”

Current Incidence Statistics

Source: Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Data sources include the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, and National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, as well as local authorities, medical sources, and news reports.