Strategy Roundup | 10.22.2021

Jourdan B. Gooden

Spotify is currently blaring in my background. Well, just loud enough so that I can still hear my own thoughts. Because that’s what you deserve. My clear, unmolested, concrete thoughts. Here’s what I think: I think that the seasons are transitioning, stirring up an all too familiar unbalanced blend of confusion, anxiety, and eagerness for the holidays, cooler weather, and cute dates. I think it’s time to get you ready for November. Shall we?

*looks at imaginary reader*
*smirks*
*responds to himself*

We shall.

A few days ago, I was in Hell’s Kitchen roaming the streets hoping to bump into Matt Murdock and ask him to sign my Daredevil comic book. But no one I was with knew my truth, so instead of living it, I shied away. Before it was time to rendezvous in Midtown for a night out, the next best thing to do was to go to Bibble & Sip for tea time with my cousin. Referencing a recent dinner date gone wrong, she confessed that perhaps some of the date’s downfall could be attributed to the Mercury retrograde that was still happening at the time. My immediate reaction was a chuckle followed by the memories of every one of those terrible first dates where they ask “what’s your sign?” in the first five minutes.

Admittedly, I never paid attention to signs or their meanings until people started asking me what mine is. I still don’t give into it nearly as much as others. But let’s just say I’m more aware than ever before. Once I managed to escape the trance of memory lane, I had a chance to bask in a different memory jog. This “retrograde”– I had heard of it before. I had a span of three to four years where I identified a pattern of the worst things happening to me in the calendar year taking place in February. Toward the end of that three to four year period, I also noticed similar experiences happening around September. It was only by luck that I was scrolling on Twitter last year and was able to put a name to the face of my tragedy. “Mercury is in retrograde …” I recall being the core of the tweet. It went on to instruct readers to stay away from starting new business ventures, relationships, or opening new bank accounts.

Refinery29

At this point, I was mildly aware that the Mercury retrograde occurred multiple times per year but even that was just a very recent discovery. Apparently, the dates to look out for this year were:

January 30, 2021-February 20, 2021

May 29, 2021-June 22, 2021

September 27, 2021-October 17, 2021

“For the past month, Mercury retrograde in Libra has been wreaking havoc on us, stirring up drama in our relationships, messing with our technology, and disrupting whatever communication skills we thought we had. Finally, on October 18, the Planet of Communication will complete its backwards dance, freeing us from the dreaded shackles of its retrograde motion. But we’re not quite out of the woods yet.”

As far as assumptions go, The Four Agreements certainly frown upon the notion I’m about to propound, but the universe is evidently mad enough at me already; what’s one more frown? A safe assumption when it comes to astronomical mysticism: there is always more.

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Before and after the retrograde period are periods of pre- and post-shadow respectively; both known as retroshade. The retroshade periods tend to last for about two weeks. This is when the planet “slows down” before stationing or “speeds up” after stationing. Mercury’s retroshade will reportedly last until November 2, 2021. Lisa Stardust, the author of Saturn Return Survival Guide and The Astrology Deck, says it’s during this time that, “the wildest and wonkiest things” can happen to us … being that Mercury is in the air sign Libra, we can expect gossip and relationship drama … this is the time when the tea comes out and secrets are revealed.

My Imperfect Life

“Stardust also says this is when we get to ask for forgiveness and mend what’s broken.” It’s a great time to heal situations and relationships that have undergone issues during the actual retrograde.” Madi Murphy, co-founder of The Cosmic RX and The Cosmic Revolution adds, “we can expect to feel extra-clear during this retroshade … we always feel a certain level of mental clarity or added insight after a retrograde cycle, but this one in particular is extra heightened” due to sign of Libra, “which rules the mind.” “Schedule brainstorming sessions, charge forward with your big ideas, and just let your mind wander. Mercury retrograde is no longer blocking our creative juices from flowing, so now’s the time to get your life back on track.”

As soon as you resolve the communication issues presented by the Mercury retrograde and lean into the forgiveness and healing that the retroshade period is all about, you’ll probably be itching to enjoy a season of refreshing connections. It’s definitely about that time to fire up Tinder and live your best life. And what better way to do it than to gift your new match a ride to your first date through Lyft? As a matter of fact, gift it right through Tinder!

“Tinder and Lyft announce a first-of-its kind partnership focused on helping their shared customers ease into making new connections IRL again. The flagship product feature, available as a result of the partnership, will allow Tinder members to gift their dates a Lyft ride directly through the Tinder app.”

I’m not even sure how I feel about Tinder’s in-app currency yet but at least we saw this one coming. It makes sense enough that Tinder users overlap with Lyft riders. The problem to be solved is encouraging more of these daters who are also Lyft riders to connect face to face as many places are starting to open back up again. This partnership could mean more business for Lyft drivers. For Tinder, it’s definitely a win to have a new product offering that pushes people to meet IRL coupled with the comfort and safety of a top rideshare company. The idea of not having to send addresses or locations also carries a certain appeal.

If Tinder wants to encourage people to do “more than send messages and watch videos,” coming down on those Tinder Gold, Plus, and Platinum prices might be a good place to start. Nevertheless, there is still enough time to go apple picking this season so hit the app and send a driver out for your new bae to meet you at your favorite orchard. No time to waste!

Have any cool first date ideas for the Fall? Let us know in the response section! (Extra points if they are in Boston or Philly)

I know I know. How are you going to gift me a new pair of size 12 Salvatore Ferragamo Men’s Raquel 2 Sock Sneakers w/Gancini for Christmas if they keep getting more expensive? The thought certainly is nice but it’s definitely not all that counts! We need to figure this out — what are you going to do? “Sneaker prices have been rising over the past year, according to new data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” According to their monthly report, shoe prices increased by 6.5% in September when compared to last year.

Hypebeast

“The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) explained that footwear prices are seeing the fastest rate of increase in the past 20 years, with year-to-date prices up by 3.2%.” According to FDRA’s monthly report, “the drivers for this increase include higher import charges and duties and higher wages for retail workers.”

So wait, you mean, that labor shortage thing is real and it’s also affecting the shoe industry?

Google Images

“Due to a general labor shortage, retailers have increased employee wages, leading to a residual effect on footwear prices to compensate for money allocated for wages. It is expected that this inflation will extend into the holiday season and next year.”

This sounds terrible. “Holiday season” and “inflation” are two things that under no circumstance good and righteous belong in the same sentence. But it’s true — this country is currently experiencing a shortage in workers and the residual effects of this shortage can prove to be hard hitting and long lasting.

On Capitol Hill, arguments hold that the labor shortage can be attributed to “generous unemployment payments and stimulus checks” making people less likely to take low-paying fast food and retail jobs again. Those notions are countered by the idea that companies can raise their low wages if they really want workers back so quickly. It may not be so black and white. Early on, the unemployment benefits certainly contributed to labor shortages. But by now, other factors have made an impact. Through the course of the pandemic, people have re-adjusted their preferences, and what would they accept in terms of benefits and starting bonuses. As a result, it’s made hiring a tough mountain to climb for industries.

“Americans are ditching their jobs by the millions, and retail is leading the way with the largest increase in resignations of any sector.” April 2021 saw a whopping 649,000 retail workers submit notices — “the industry’s largest one-month exodus since the Labor Department began tracking such data more than 20 years ago.”

Contributing factors aren’t just workers trying to find jobs where they don’t come into contact with other people. The pandemic also amplified the challenges of finding reliable child care and public transit options. Workers have also begun to realize they have options. Some are going back to school to learn new trades, or landing jobs at banks, insurance agencies or seeking other career changes.

“We’re seeing a wider understanding that these were never good jobs and they were never livable jobs,” said Rebecca Givan, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University. “In many cases, the pay is below a living wage and the hours are inconsistent and insufficient. If anything, the pandemic has made retail jobs even less sustainable than they already were.”

The problems in the retail industry are only exacerbated by the pandemic, but it’s roots are structural. Stability, worker safety, higher pay and benefits are all necessary factors to address properly should the retail industry ever be successful in its course correction; especially as workers are increasingly identifying these positions as dead-end jobs to which their lives have incomparable value.

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