2016 has been an interesting year by all accounts: intense (think the election), intensely competitive (think digital payments) and intensely innovative (take stock of the innovations we write about every day). And maybe, just maybe, amidst living through (and maybe even creating some of) that intensity, it’s at least possible that your Thanksgiving spirit might need something of a jump-start. Luckily, we’ve got your back — and we have your blessings lined up for you all in a row.
OK, well, it’s a list, but close enough.
1. The Stock Market Is Blowing Up — But In A Good Way
A week-and-a-half ago, just around the time the election results were being called, Wall Street watchers found they were suddenly very, very nervous about what was coming next. Before the market opened, the Dow futures were down more than 800 points. And there was the fear that the markets were about to melt down entirely.
But the meltdown never came — in fact, far from fizzling, the stock market has more or less been sizzling. Trump’s promise to roll back huge swaths of CFPB and Dodd-Frank regulations has given the impression that bank earnings could be on the rise, particularly if capital is freed up to invest (profitably, the banks would hope). There is also speculation that the Fed will come through with its planned rate increase, which means rates will be up (slightly). All of that came as music to investors’ ears — and bank stocks have been climbing ever since. So lots to be thankful for there.
We will put an asterisk here as well since tech stocks are within their rights to ignore this particular entry, since the Trump Triumphant rally has more or less missed them entirely.
2. Everything Everywhere Is On Sale
For those who don’t want to go out shopping on Black Friday — or even stay in and shop on their computer/tablet/smartphone — we’ve got good news. Most retailers started Black Friday a month ago — which means that everything everywhere is on sale.
Seriously, as of yesterday, even commerce itself was briefly on sale — in the form of a special offer that made Amazon Prime possible to pick up for a mere $79.
3. Brick-And-Mortar Retail Has Some (Good) Surprises Left
Covering the physical retail scene in 2016 has been a bit like watching a competitive game of limbo unfolding —- the phrase “how low can they go?” comes up a lot.
There have been some exceptions of course — TJX is apparently retail’s unsinkable ship, and Walmart has managed to keep their arrows pointed mostly up all year.
But this week, the good news in physical retail didn’t come from Walmart, which, despite showing growth and a big improvement in its eCommerce operations, saw its profitability take a hit and shareholders react strongly, if not positively.
Target, on the other hand, managed a hat trick’s worth of good surprises, just in time for the holiday season to begin. Traffic to the physical stores was up, eCommerce was way up and the company’s annual earnings estimate got an upward adjustment. Plus, it predicated that after two quarters of contractions, same-store sales might actually get back into positive territory.
4. If You Ever Need To Buy A $175 Million Painting On The Spot, Amex Has Your Back
It happens to all of us. You’re out shopping for friends and family during the holiday season when you see it: the perfect gift. You need it. But there’s one problem — it happens to be a piece of art priced at $175 million. Sure, you could arrange the complex wire transfer to make it happen, but someone might buy it out from under you.
What’s a consumer to do?
Bust out their American Express, according to CEO Ken Chenault. That advice comes from a recent Bloomberg interview when he was asked about a recent single-swipe purchase of $175 million. Though Chennault was unable to comment on the specific transaction for customer privacy reasons, he did assure the interviewer that should he need to make such a mega-ticket purchase, he was sure they could “work something out.”
The points — wow. Talk about giving thanks.
Chenault also revealed during the interview that he only carries American Express cards — and when confronted with merchants that don’t take American Express, he leaves the store. After having a chat with the relevant merchant about the wonder of accepting Amex, of course.
5. We Might Make It Two Whole Weeks Without Another “…” Pay
No props taken away from Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Citi Pay, Chase Pay, IBM Pay, Walmart Pay or PayPal — and all the Pays in the world.
That said, you have to admit that it was probably nice to go a week without a new Pay added to the pile.
6. Samsung Built A (Really, Really Comprehensive) Loyalty Program
Sure, there are a lot of loyalty programs in the world — and yes, we know that Starbucks is already in the slot reserved for giving thanks for rewards points — but hear us out: Samsung deserves the “be thankful for new ideas” award this year.
Because Samsung has figured out if you want people to use your payment method, it might be nice to give them a tangible benefit for doing it. The new Samsung Rewards program will deliver points for any transaction that users conduct using Samsung Pay. As in any. Those points can then be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including gift cards, Samsung products, prepaid Samsung Rewards Visa gift cards and more.
And it’s a tiered system — the more users use Samsung Pay, the richer their rewards get. After five transactions in one month, a user reaches Silver status and receives twice the points for every transaction. And once Gold status is achieved, after making 20 monthly transactions, those enrolled in the program receive triple points. Plus the system is designed for double dipping — users get the Samsung reward on top of whatever incentives their issuer is offering.
So a real reason to use a mobile payments wallet other than the fact that it’s not a credit card? Yep, definitely something to be thankful for.
7. It’s Almost Gift-Giving Time!
No one likes the shopping — but admit it: You love getting presents, and you love giving presents.
8. The Election Is Over
And no, we don’t think it matters if your candidate won or lost. We will never have to talk about the election of 2016 again. OK, so maybe not ever, but it was a nice try.
We could go on, of course — we could thank grocery delivery services for bringing us the turkey so that we have more time to prepare cocktails in advance of our in-laws’ arrival or Netflix for giving family members who don’t like football something to do all afternoon.
But the point is that although it is easy to overlook, there is always a lot of be thankful for out there. Even if it take a few minutes to recall it all.