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December 2020

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I have been reflecting on what I was doing one year ago today, at the beginning of 2020. I was just stepping into a new role with the Literacy Council of Tyler. I was excited, ready to learn, ready to be challenged and to work with an incredible staff, board and volunteers to accomplish the mission of the organization.

There was no way of knowing then what we would experience in the coming months. The past year has been unexplainable… undefinable…

While the endless, pandemic-related statistics are updated daily and show us exact numbers of infection rates, death rates, hospital occupancy, and so many other measurements that have been taken from all over the world, we still can’t really see the full picture. What is the story behind those numbers?

How do we define the impact of the record numbers of Americans unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic? How do we quantify the long-term effects of almost one million Texans alone, who are unemployed?

What we know is this: our neighbors are hurting.

As executive director of the Literacy Council of Tyler, I can attest that we are experiencing a much higher demand for our programs as folks are out of work and looking for a career that can take their families into the future. Others are finding that the jobs they have held for years now require a GED or certification, or they need to learn English. These are hard working adults, right here in Smith County. They are not looking for a handout; they are looking for a way to provide for themselves and their families. And, most of these people are women, just over 70%, many with children.

Through all of this, the glimmer of hope for me is the power of our community. One year later, I am still hopeful and ready to take on the challenges of this era.I know that nonprofit organizations are working the front lines to help, supported by an incredibly generous community, and it is making a tangible difference. Whether an immediate need like food or shelter, or a more long-term need like job training and education, so many people have come together to help others.That gives me hope and keeps me going!

The Women’s Fund of Smith County is a prime example of this. As Vice Chair for Membership, I marveled at the number of women who maintained or increased their membership in 2020. Giving never stopped. The power of community is only shining brighter. And, as both a director of a community nonprofit and a member of the Women’s Fund, I get to experience the benefits of our giving circle from all angles.

The power of community is real, and it can lift us all up from the murkiness of the past year. Together, we can ALL work toward a brighter future for our community.

If you are a woman in Smith County, please consider joining us. Your donation will be pooled together with over 300 others to make a real impact for women and children in our community. And that, is community exemplified!

Whitney Patterson is the Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Tyler, one of 29 different Smith County nonprofit agencies that has received grant funding from the Women’s Fund of Smith County since 2009. Whitney is an active member of the Women’s Fund and serves on the Board of Directors as the Vice President for Membership. The Women’s Fund is a giving circle of more than 300 women with a mission of transforming our community by funding programs that enrich the lives of women and children. To learn more, please visit www.womensfundsc.org. Any woman with a giving heart is welcome to join our mission.



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It has been a strange year for fashion, with work-from-home and quarantine obliterating much need for stylish clothing and trendsetting. But even in a pandemic, fashion trends find a way to flourish.

Here are the items that sneaked their way into quarantine closets and social media feeds – where they will likely stay even in the new year.


Cropped cardigans

Staying cosy and comfortable in the pandemic certainly brought forth a renaissance of the cardigan last year. But, instead of impractical chunky knits, influencers and celebrities opted for svelte, cropped options to do double duty by also showing off their figures.

Wear it as a top fully buttoned up or over a matching cami, and you have a presentable outfit to go from Zoom call to quick errand in town.

Baguette bags

Mid-2019 to 2020 was just the beginning of baguette bags.

The nostalgic, early-2000s silhouette bounced back onto the radar of fashionistas everywhere, buoyed by luxury houses such as Prada and Fendi digging into their archives and reissuing their own iconic versions.

It trickled down to high-end retailers such as accessories brand By Far (below) and swarmed mass retailers, including Pomelo, Cotton On, Zara and countless wholesale marketplaces.

Now, the sheer variety available is dizzying – the bag has been made in fabrics ranging from the classic nylon to faux-crocodile, patent leather and even fur.

Every celebrity has a version and likely so do all your friends. And who can blame them? The style is compact, chic and the perfect size to fit a few essentials as no one is really going anywhere.


PHOTO: BY FAR

Tiered dresses


Aimee denim babydoll tiered dress, $42, from Love & Bravery. PHOTO: LOVE & BRAVERY

Somehow, looking like a cupcake came back in trend.

From Chanel to Oscar de la Renta, floaty tiered dresses ruled the runways last spring/summer, their horizontal seams and billowing silhouettes promising effortless ease.

High street caught on, adding to the array of colours, lengths, prints and sleeve options on the market. There were the Dickensian puffed peasant sleeves, square-necked smocked styles and breezy maxis – each versatile enough to take you from a picnic to Orchard Road and, more importantly, conceal any food babies post-feasting.

With comfort still key, it seems it will be a year more that figure-hugging dresses stay in storage.

Thong sandals


Platform thong sandals, $49.90, from Charles & Keith. PHOTO: CHARLES & KEITH

Every few years, a new shoe style creeps up out of nowhere and revolts the masses before gradually drawing their intrigue.

It happened with Jeffrey Campbell’s divisive platform ankle boot Litas, chunky “dad sneakers” and Birkenstocks (the jury is still out on whether anyone actually embraced Crocs).

The new rising It shoe is no less controversial. Like elevated flip flops, the thong sandal swops out waterproof foam for leather – a distant, polished cousin to the Juicy Couture wedge flip flops of the early 2000s.

We imagine the shoe’s popularity has to do with the convenience of easily slipping in and out of them. The elevated style also toes the line (pun intended) of something casual and chic to pair with loungewear.

Baulk now, but once the rainy season passes, be prepared to see more style influencers flaunt the shoe in their OOTDs.

Timeless classics


PHOTO: ROLEX

When things go south, always return to the tried and tested. That probably explains why Rolex created quite a stir a few months ago when it released an update of its iconic Submariner watch (above).

First introduced in 1953, it is a must-have in any self-respecting watch lover’s collection. Among other tweaks, the new model boasts a slightly bigger case size (41mm) with a wider three-link Oyster bracelet and a brand new movement, the 3230.

Other brands which went back to their archives included Longines with its Heritage collection and Tag Heuer with its Carrera models. Because they are iconic, these timepieces will never go out of style. 

Padded-shoulder muscle tees


Eva padded muscle tee, US$75 (S$99), from The Frankie Shop.  PHOTO: THE FRANKIE SHOP

This masculine spin on an everyday basic first reared its head at the end of 2019, when New York-based fashion brand The Frankie Shop released the now cult Eva T-shirt.

Quickly, the padded-shoulder silhouette took over Instagram, replacing the plain white tee as everyone who’s anyone’s go-to basic.

With its boxier fit, padded shoulders and wide arm holes, the tee also fits into this new age of comfort dressing.

Do it like the influencers and throw on a chunky gold chain and jeans for a model-offduty look; or choose from the variety of colours on the market to upgrade the basics in your closet.

Slouchy bottoms


Fluid wide-leg leather trousers in slate grey, $790, from COS. PHOTO: COS

In keeping with the cocooning trend, loungey bottoms reigned supreme in the past year, replacing tailored office pants and pencil skirts.

This year, expect it to progress beyond the home-appropriate sweats as more go out but still want to stay comfortable – think mum jeans, wide-legged pants and dressier track bottoms.

These come in a variety of styles and can be dressed up or down. Gen Z-ers on TikTok have been known to pair the look with tiny crop tops to balance out the silhouette. Or make it smart casual by throwing a sharp blazer over it.

Better yet, surrender to the sloth life with a matching oversized hoodie. 

Snazzy sneakers


PHOTO: ADIDAS

Thanks to Covid-19 and work-from-home, sales of activewear have shot through the roof and show no sign of abating. The trajectory is the same for footwear, with men junking work and dress shoes for loafers and sneakers.

Foot Locker at Orchard Gateway, for instance, caused a near stampede when it dropped one of the year’s most coveted sneakers – the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350V2 Carbon (above) – last month.

The limited-edition sneaker is a collaboration between rapper Kanye West and Adidas.

Hordes threw caution to the wind and ignored safe distancing rules, hoping to lay their hands on a pair. The shop was ordered to suspend operations for 10 days for failing to comply with Covid-19 safe management measures.

Other newly released hot sneakers which will remain coveted for some time to come? The Adidas x Prada Luna Rossa 21 and NikeAir Jordan 4 Retro “Fire Red”. 
 





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DOCUMENTARY

CITY DREAM (PG)

103 minutes/Available on Kinolounge

The Chinese city of Wuhan, before it became famed for something else, is also known for its street vendor market in Lumo Street.

This documentary by Chen Weijun records the clashes between the hawkers and the city authorities, who seek to evict the stallholders so as to build a swanky new retail district.

But they have to reckon with the bellicose and frequently shirtless seller of fruit and clothing, 70-year-old Wang Tiancheng, who will not give up without a fight.

Everyone in Wang’s family, including himself, is disabled. Only his granddaughter, whom he dotes on, does not have a disability.

Chen’s camera shows both sides – the government trying to develop the city while alleviating the poverty of the vendors, and the fight put up by the hawkers trying to preserve their dignity and livelihoods.

There will be an online question-and-answer session with Chen on Sunday at 7.30pm. Details will be released on the movie’s page on Kinolounge.

WHERE: Shaw Kinolounge (kinolounge.shaw.sg) ADMISSION: $9.99 for a 48-hour viewing period

FAMILY/ADVENTURE

PADDINGTON 2 (PG)

95 minutes/Available on Kinolounge

3.5 stars

The first Paddington movie (2014) broke new ground in all-ages entertainment. It was sincere yet hilarious – a comedy for children without double entendres for grown-ups, nods to pop culture or caffeinated zaniness.

This follow-up, released in 2017, has since grown in stature as a film that is as good, if not better, than the first.

Following the events of the first movie, the cub Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is now a member of the Brown family. With his Aunt Lucy’s birthday approaching, he yearns to buy her an expensive pop-up book. Meanwhile, the Browns, Henry (Hugh Bonneville), Mary (Sally Hawkins) and their children Judy and Jonathan (Madeline Harris and Samuel Joslin), are each caught up in his or her own problems.

Hugh Grant appears as the villainous Phoenix Buchanan. He gives a lighter-than-air performance as a greedy, self-absorbed actor – a feat he achieves, amazingly, without winking at the audience.

The suspense-thriller plot involving a frame-up is a throwaway for anyone older than 12, but there is so much going on – the Wes Anderson-meets-Studio Ghibli visuals, the skits, Grant’s over-the-top work – to keep older ones happy.

WHERE: Shaw Kinolounge (kinolounge.shaw.sg) ADMISSION: $4.99 for a 48-hour viewing period

BIOPIC

A PRIVATE WAR (M18)

110 minutes/Now showing at Projector Plus

3.5 stars

This 2018 biopic about journalist Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike) finds her in Homs, Syria, in 2012, reporting from a shelled building on the attacks by government forces on rebels.

The story flashes back to earlier in her life, to an incident in the Sri Lankan civil war that cost her an eye. Her editor at The Sunday Times in London, Sean Ryan (Tom Hollander), is troubled by her lack of concern for her safety. She meets freelance photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan) during the coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003 and they become friends who risk their lives in conflict zones across the world.

Director Matthew Heinemann does not strive for realism driven by cinema-verite camera moves or action-movie arcs. He opts for psychological insight, achieved through episodic flashbacks illustrating key moments in Colvin’s life.

For Colvin, the intensity of the war experience, as films like The Hurt Locker (2008) show, alters body chemistry in ways that make civilian life feel trite and meaningless, which fosters the desire for risk, creating a vicious circle.

WHERE: Projector Plus (theprojector.sg) ADMISSION: $10 for a 48-hour viewing period





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  • This winter, I decided to commit to 30 days of yoga in a bid to fight off digital fatigue and boost my mental health. 
  • Yoga has been reported to have profound health effects on the brain and body, with certain practices even raising the body’s levels of feel-good hormones.
  • While I was motivated in the beginning, I found myself struggling to stay focused and enjoy a slower-paced workout.
  • But with time, I found support through the online yoga community and was able to ease up on the expectations I had set for myself.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The last time I did yoga I got a nosebleed. 

In a dimly lit room filled with steam, I noticed droplets of blood hitting my mat as I folded myself forward. I jolted to my feet and began weaving through sweaty bodies, eventually slipping out of the studio while gripping a white hand towel speckled with blood. 

About a week later, on March 15, 2020, that same yoga studio emailed to inform me that all of their New York City locations would be closing until further notice due to the coronavirus. Since March, dozens of yoga studios have closed permanently, from chain locations to smaller, boutique studios, the New York Times reported in September.

The yoga community quickly pivoted, launching a new wave of pandemic yoga. As the Times wrote, “Yoga requires only a clear mind and a few square feet of space, so it is easily converted to remote instruction.” Loyal yogis quickly followed along, with Mindbody, a booking software company for the wellness industry, reporting: “Last year, one in five users said they had taken streamed or prerecorded classes, but by this June, more than four of five said they were doing so.” 

I, however, did not follow suit.

In an effort to fight off digital fatigue earlier this year, I began taking long walks or runs after work instead. But eventually daylight savings time caught up to me, and it was pitch black by the time I logged off each night. Feeling open-minded and even a bit vulnerable as I tried to fend off seasonal depression, I decided to revisit yoga — nosebleeds be damned.

Practicing yoga is reported to have physical and mental health benefits, and I wanted to incorporate these into my work-from-home routine

Mentally, yoga has also been reported to reduce stress and boost “feel-good hormones.” Business Insider reported in 2019 that “yoga may reduce stress by interfering with the central nervous system’s ability to release stress hormones.” Citing a 2011 study, Business Insider also reported that participants said they felt “significantly less” lower back pain after completing just six to 12 yoga sessions.

I decided to commit to 30 minutes every day for a month and landed on an abundance of videos by “Yoga with Adriene,” a YouTuber with 8.89 million subscribers, a soothing voice, and an adorable dog named Benji. Amidst an endlessly stressful news cycle, working from home, and plenty of social media distractions, I hoped that returning to yoga would help me regain some peace of mind — all in the comfort of my own home.

yoga

Following Adriene’s “Confidence Boost Yoga” video.

Caroline Fox/Insider


At first, I found practicing at home, on my own, much more challenging than attending a class

On day one, Adriene calmly declared that, “All you need is your body and an open mind.” But while standing hips-width distance apart with my body hanging heavy, I found my hand reaching towards the space bar to check how much time was left. I was eight minutes into the video. 

I found practicing yoga alone much more difficult than in a crowded class. Instead of holding on to every last minute of quiet, I now found myself watching the time slowly creep by. I couldn’t get my mind to be present, which made each deep inhale and exhale feel more laborious than I was used to.

For the entire first week, I wrote “YOGA” at the top of my to-do list. My plan was to do 30 minutes during my lunch break, but I found myself slowly pushing it further along each day, sometimes not unrolling my mat until 11 p.m. I became aware of just how lazy my after-work routine had become. Despite how good yoga left me feeling, one of the biggest challenges was disrupting my pre-existing habits and incorporating something new.

Once my body warmed up to practicing daily, I began to notice improvements

By the second week, I finally felt myself adjusting to consistent yoga. The repetition of phrases slowly caught on, allowing me to close my eyes instead of having them glued to the screen. I also started to seek out the surge of energy it left me with, and found myself turning to yoga instead of making an afternoon coffee.

My body even grew sore, warming up to the daily stretches and strains that it hadn’t experienced since early March. I wanted to push my body harder and see just how long I could balance on my shaking leg. Challenging myself left me feeling accomplished and refreshed.

yoga

With an abundance of free videos online, yoga is an inexpensive workout routine.

Caroline Fox/Insider


But as the adrenaline of the challenge wore off, I felt myself hitting a plateau

Once again, into the third week, I found myself lamenting how slow time was passing. I felt my balance was not improving, the stretches never came easier, and the mounting frustration made it more difficult to commit myself every day.

None of it had to do with Adriene’s videos. Adriene — who the New York Times called the “Queen of Pandemic Yoga” — has garnered so much success with her practice because her yoga aims to meet you where you are. She isn’t trying to push you to hold a pose past your breaking point or guilt you for skipping a day.

In fact, in one of her videos titled “Yoga To Feel Your Best,” I landed on a comment that resonated with me. One user lamented, “I’m very inconsistent with my practice. I somehow get into the mind set that I don’t have the time … I have to say, as soon as I step back on the mat, it’s like all that negative energy, all those thoughts that keep me from bettering myself … they disappear.”

I related to the YouTube user: Why did yoga feel so easy some days, and nearly impossible on others?

yoga

My makeshift yoga studio in my bedroom.

Caroline Fox/Insider


By the end of the challenge, I had learned a lesson about exercising intuitively

As I inched towards the fourth and final week, I landed on one of Adriene’s videos titled “Yoga For When You Feel Dead Inside,” her Halloween special. The description reads: “Some days are harder than others, you feel empty, or overwhelmed, it’s difficult, and that is okay. Other days you feel stiff, unmotivated, can’t quite get moving, almost frozen… staring out. I have your back.”

Paced slower than some of the other videos I had tried, I finally felt like I was relinquishing the high standards I had placed on myself. In the final week, instead of seeking out every fast-paced video on the channel, I leaned into the gentle practices. 

In the beginning of the challenge, I was placing pressure on myself to completely relax and walk away feeling recharged, which led to a mixture of guilt and dread on days when I just did not want to do it. But by the end of the challenge, I felt my mind easing up. Some days, I would move through the poses while my thoughts wandered  elsewhere. Other days, the 30 minutes would fly by and I would opt for another 30. I began listening to my body and giving it what it needed.

Yoga began as a mental challenge, but gradually became a tool to nurture myself

After 30 days, yoga taught me a lot about patience. While it was a mental challenge at times to confront how tight my body felt or how stressed my mind was, giving in to yoga became a gentle, approachable method to doing something nurturing for myself. 

In the end, yoga did not grant me the mental or physical improvements that I had hoped for. I never noticed my stress levels dramatically decrease. Vast improvements to my physical health, such as my lower back, never came. Instead, yoga taught me how to ease the pressure I place on myself. I learned that working out at my own pace becomes much less of a mental strain, and intuitive exercise is what works best for my body and mind.



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Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, ‘The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.’ It’s only natural to consider a company’s balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. Importantly, e.l.f. Beauty, Inc. (NYSE:ELF) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for e.l.f. Beauty

How Much Debt Does e.l.f. Beauty Carry?

As you can see below, e.l.f. Beauty had US$130.2m of debt at September 2020, down from US$140.3m a year prior. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$41.0m, its net debt is less, at about US$89.1m.

NYSE:ELF Debt to Equity History December 31st 2020

How Healthy Is e.l.f. Beauty’s Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that e.l.f. Beauty had liabilities of US$61.0m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$157.7m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$41.0m in cash and US$33.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$143.9m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Given e.l.f. Beauty has a market capitalization of US$1.18b, it’s hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

In order to size up a company’s debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

e.l.f. Beauty has net debt worth 2.4 times EBITDA, which isn’t too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 3.6 times the interest expense. While that doesn’t worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Shareholders should be aware that e.l.f. Beauty’s EBIT was down 28% last year. If that earnings trend continues then paying off its debt will be about as easy as herding cats on to a roller coaster. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine e.l.f. Beauty’s ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, e.l.f. Beauty actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There’s nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders’ good graces.

Our View

e.l.f. Beauty’s EBIT growth rate was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. There’s no doubt that its ability to to convert EBIT to free cash flow is pretty flash. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about e.l.f. Beauty’s use of debt. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. For instance, we’ve identified 3 warning signs for e.l.f. Beauty that you should be aware of.

If you’re interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.



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Zara’s parent Inditex is closing 1,200 doors over a two-year period.

Inditex

Number: 1,200, or up to 600 stores annually in 2020 and 2021

Backstory: After reporting its first-ever quarterly loss in Q1, the Zara owner is focusing on store optimization as it works to integrate its store and online business. It’s also taking a closer focus on its supply chain to zero in on inventory management, and its using existing store networ to help with the  fulfillment of online orders.

G-III Apparel Group Ltd.

Number: 199, comprised of 110 Wilson’s stores and 89 G.H. Bass locations

Backstory: The company restructured its retail operations after deciding to focus on its wholesale operation and its DKNY and Karl Lagerfeld Paris businesses.

Tuesday Morning

Number: 230

Backstory: The company filed for bankruptcy court protection in May, and shuttered 230 locations. It plans exit Chapter 11 before the end of the year with 500 stores still in operation.

J.C. Penney

Number: 175

Backstory: The mass merchant closed six department stores before it filed its Chapter 11 petition and then closed 154 during its tour of bankruptcy court. It recently exited bankruptcy proceedings when the operating business was sold to its two largest landlords, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management. On Dec. 17, the company confirmed the additional closure of 15 more doors.

J. Crew

Number: 67

Backstory: The preppy chain, along with its Madewell concept, filed a bankruptcy petition in May. While it plans to reopen nearly 500 doors after temporary COVID-19 shutdowns, the retailer is looking to get out of 67 store leases over time. It already closed eight stores during its tour of bankruptcy proceedings.

Diane von Furstenberg

Number: 18

Backstory: The fashion brand is closing 18 of its stores, leaving just one open in New York City’s Meatpacking District. The brand is refocusing its business to an e-commerce model in the U.S. and Europe, and will continue with wholesale operations in China. The DVF Studio division in the U.K. in May filed for administration, the equivalent of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in the U.S.

Nordstrom

Number: 19, comprised of 16 full-line doors and all 3 Jeffrey stores

Backstory: The retailer is restructuring its business following the impact from the coronavirus, with the closures “based on the needs of each market.” The company has also been reducing expenses by restructuring regions, support roles and its corporate organization.

Victoria’s Secret

Number: 250 locations across the U.S. and Canada, including 238 in the U.S.

Backstory: L Brands is restructuring the brand after Sycamore Partners backed out of a deal to acquire a 55 percent majority stake in the lingerie chain.

Stage Stores Inc.

Number: 738

Backstory:  A bankruptcy in May had the company liquidating 550 reopened stores. The retailer, which plans to liquidate its remaining stores as they are able to reopen, was in the middle of converting its department stores to its off-price nameplate Gordmans. The company is also in the process of selling its assets.

Lord & Taylor

Number: 40

Backstory: The retailer initially closed two locations earlier in the year, but rumblings in April indicated that could be trouble ahead following a reduction in headcount. Lord & Taylor, and its parent Le Tote, subsequently filed for bankruptcy in August and the initial plan was to liquidate 19 stores as the company tried to find a buyer for America’s first department store. It later upped the number of doors to close to 24, hoping to keep 14 in operation. Failing to find a buyer, a decision was made to liquidate and shutter all doors.

Nearly 11,000 fashion-related stores are closing, but the total retail doors has surpassed 14,494 when including other retail categories.

Another 142 stores could close in a liquidation if last minute rescue attempts come to naught.

Debenhams

Number: 61, including 11 in Ireland

Backstory: After closing 22 stores in the beginning of the year, the retailer declared insolvency in April, representing its second tour of insolvency in one year. It has liquidated all 11 doors in Ireland,  and another 28 locations in the U.K. have been closed.

However, the company failed to find a buyer and is slated to shut down its remaining 142 stores in the U.K. Whether that actually happens is unclear. Mike Ashley‘s Frasers Group is in last minute talks to rescue the bankrupt department store chain. This week, word surfaced that American brand management firm Authentic Brands Group is also in talks to possibly take over the ailing chain.

 

Cath Kidston

Number: 60

Backstory: Another early victim of the coronavirus, this British fashion and homeware brand shut down all 60 stores in the U.K. Its Japanese counterpart also filed for bankruptcy protection shortly thereafter.

Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof

Number: 40

Backstory: Germany’s biggest department store retailer filed for administrative insolvency, a victim of the Covid pandemic following mandatory store closures to help curb the virus. The company, which operated 172 stores at the time it filed, exited insolvency proceedings on Sept. 30.

Oasis and Warehouse

Number: 92 freestanding stores and 400 concessions

Backstory: Another early victim of the coronavirus, the U.K. high fashion brands fell into administration. Hilco Capital agreed to a deal to buy its intellectual property assets, but two months later the IP and related assets were sold to Boohoo.

Laura Ashley

Number: 18

Backstory: The British lifestyle brand filed for administration in the U.K. in mid-March. In April, certain assets including the brand’s intellectual property were acquired by Gordon Brothers, which is exploring the chain’s options.

Esprit

Number: 56

Backstory: Esprit said it would close all of its stores in Asia outside of China. The total store count for the stores in Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, plus Hong Kong and Macau, is 56.

Neiman Marcus

Number: 28

Backstory: The luxury department store said in March that it will close 20 of its 22 off-price Last Call concepts. It will keep two to move inventory from the full-price stores. Neiman’s subsequently filed for bankruptcy court protection and closed about eight doors, including its massive N.Y.C. flagship that opened in Hudson Yards in Manhattan in March 2019.

Modell’s Sporting Goods

Number: 153

Backstory: The company closed some stores and then filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection in March, only to shut down due to the pandemic. In June, the remaining 107 stores reopened to begin going-out-of business sales.

Nearly 11,000 fashion-related stores are closing, but the total retail doors has surpassed 14,494 when including other retail categories.

The home decor chain has liquidated, closing 936 store locations.

Pier I Imports

Number: 936

Backstory: The home furnishings retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection and ended up liquidating when it couldn’t find a going-concern buyer. It initially planned to close 450 stores before filing for bankruptcy, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit, so stores were put on pause as nonessential retailers temporarily closed to help curb the spread of the virus. But Covid also impacted its ability to find a buyer, and the retailer decided to conduct a winding down of operations.

Sears

Number: 51

Backstory: The retailer, a nameplate operating under the umbrella of corporate parent Transform Holdco, said in November 2019 that it was closing 51 stores in February.

Kmart

Number: 45

Backstory: The discounter is part of the corporate holding of Transform Holdco, which said in November 2019 that it would shutter 45 locations in February.

Macy’s Inc.

Number: 125

Backstory: The store closures are part of a routine review of the Macy’s brick-and-mortar base. Another 95 ,and possibly even hundreds, are expected to close.

Walmart Inc.

Number: 3

Backstory: The mass discounter has closed three stores, one in Michigan and two in North Carolina.

Express

Number: 100

Backstory: About 31 stores are already closed and it plans another 35 by the end of January. The company’s fleet rationalization includes the nine doors closed in 2019. Another 25 doors could close in 2022, bringing the total number to 100 locations.

Opening Ceremony

Number: 4

Backstory: Acquired in mid-January by streetwear platform New Guards Group, the label will cultivate its brand instead of operating as a multibrand retailer.

Beales

Number: 23

Backstory: The U.K. department store declared insolvency in January. A month later, it shuttered 12 of its 23 locations. However, the chain couldn’t find a buyer and the coronavirus outbreak forced the remaining 11 locations closed.





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WATCH: Full interview with Shelley Rael, registered dietitian nutritionist

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As we look towards the new year, many will look to start the year right which can mean cleaning up your diet. Registered dietitian nutritionist Shelley Rael offers tips on what we can do in the kitchen to get started on the right foot.

Rael explains that there is no magic solution to help your immune system other than eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein in addition to consuming less sugar and alcohol. It is also important to set a realistic plan for cooking at home and to give yourself a day off if you need it.

While meal planning can feel overwhelming, spending about 20 to 30 minutes planning he week ahead helps to reduce the stress of wondering what is for dinner tonight. It also doesn’t have to be complicated. Rael encourages a consistent theme night if the that helps such as a meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, or a Fish Friday.

Overall, it is common for people to fall short in their fruit and vegetable consumption. Rael reminds people to make sure they’re included in their meals every time.

She explains that it is best to have meals and recipes that take as few dishes as possible and less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Less time in prep and clean up is a win for everyone.

For recipe ideas, visit shelleyrael.com or the Real World Nutrition Facebook group.

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Christmas is a most special time. Unfortunately though, as with other holidays, its meaning is sometimes lost in the annual avalanche of commercialism — the hustle and bustle of travel; preparing and hosting dinner; gift-giving (and receiving); office and social Christmas parties; finding, erecting and decorating a tree; making sure our Christmas cards are mailed on time; and then, the dreaded returns afterward.

Advertising for Christmas — especially in this year of the pandemic — seems to begin earlier each year. This year, it was actually late October when the first of the Christmas advertising began airing on television. By the time Christmas arrives, our heads are spinning, and there’s little if any acknowledgement or appreciation for what the day really means.

It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. When I was young, our family attended church on Christmas morning, yes, after the children were permitted a little time to enjoy gifts that Santa had left under the tree — usually sports and military toys for me, dolls and other “girlie stuff” for my younger sisters.

To think of the resistance my poor parents encountered when they announced it was time to get dressed for church as Christmas is a Holy Day of Obligation.

We usually picked out our Christmas trees, first at the East Great Plains Volunteer Fire Department, then in later years at Maple Lane Farms in Preston, which is owned and operated by my high school friend, Allyn Brown.

What fun it was to traverse some of the farms’ 325 acres for the perfect Christmas tree. Again, though, this is the secular part of Christmas tradition. Now, back to its true meaning.

In the early years, we attended Mass at Sts. Peter & Paul Church on Elizabeth Street, where Monsignor William Baldwin or Father Francis O’Keefe would preside. A stout, stern man with wire-rimmed glasses, Monsignor Baldwin was all business when Mass was in session. There was no leaving early, or at least not without the good monsignor calling out loudly that Mass had not ended, calling attention to those few who tried to sneak out after communion.

Those who arrived late were also admonished by Monsignor Baldwin’s brooding reminder: “Mass begins promptly at 11 o’clock.” It was bad enough to be late and have to search what was then a nearly full church for five seats together. It was even worse when Monsignor Baldwin would make sure the entire congregation knew that you were late. In most cases, it never happened again.

Leading up to Christmas in those years, my paternal grandmother, Myrtle Stanley, would bring out a miniature manger, replete with tiny replicas of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the three wise men and an assortment of farm animals who are all part of the story of the night when Jesus was born. While the manger set was something for us children to play with, Grandmother Myrt gently reminded us every year that they were religious artifacts, even though they adorned the space beneath the Christmas tree.

In later years, we attended Mass at the larger Cathedral of St. Patrick on Broadway, either with Monsignor James O’Brien or then-Father Anthony Rosaforte — known to all as Father Tony — presiding.

Some years, we would attend the beautiful Children’s Mass on the late afternoon before Christmas; other years, we’d attend midnight Mass. You had to arrive very early for both, lest you not find a seat even in the cavernous cathedral and be relegated to standing room only.

Many years, the message we were asked to remember was that Christmas wasn’t about giving and receiving gifts, nor a large, filling family meal, nor football on television. It was about celebrating the birth of Christ.

Like some others, I confess to keeping that message close to heart for all of the few minutes it took for us to return home and resume opening presents while Mom prepared a magnificent turkey dinner in the kitchen. Even earlier we children would engage in the same exercise in futility — trying to stay awake late enough to catch Santa Claus delivering our gifts.

Christmas this year is different from any other year. The COVID-19 pandemic has many of us living very cautiously even as a vaccine becomes more readily available. More consumers purchased their gifts online; most Christmas parties were cancelled, and those that did take place were much smaller and shorter than in other years; many families who normally travel long and short distances to be with loved ones have instead hunkered down and will best interact via Facetime on their cell phones.

While some parishioners will again be in church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, others will be more cautious and attend virtually. Regardless of which you choose, remember the meaning of Christmas and why it is more important than all the other social, commercial and recreational activities.

Here’s hoping all of you enjoy a holiday week that is safe, healthy, happy and in keeping with its true meaning — the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!

Bill Stanley is a native of Norwich.





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