Shopping at well-stocked Venezuelan stores? Better take dollars

At a luxury hotel in Venezuela’s capital, a small store with amply-stocked shelves offers an array of goods ranging from fine wines to imported baby formula, in stark contrast to the crisis-stricken nation’s barren supermarkets.

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Another store, on the other side of the country in the sweltering western city of Maracaibo, sells American-branded breakfast cereals, soap and truffle salt.

In a country with annual inflation topping 400,000 percent, the stores’ prices are the only ones that will remain steady.

“Here we sell in dollars,” said Lourdes Torres, manager of the Maracaibo store, as she attended customers waiting to pay with U.S. legal tender.

“We accept cash as well as transfers from American banks,” she said, adding that she also accepts payment in local bolivar currency with prices converted at the black market exchange rate that is nearly four times the official rate.

The privately run “bodegones,” reminiscent of the “dollar stores” Cuba’s government ran in the 1990s, have steadily expanded in recent months as conducting business in the beleaguered bolivar currency becomes increasingly difficult.

Their rise follows a decision by the government of President Nicolas Maduro to loosen a 15-year-old currency control system that made dollar-based commerce explicitly illegal.

It also coincides with the growing dollarization of a collapsing economy in which many professionals – from doctors and dentists to personal trainers – are now charging in hard currency to avoid having their earnings swallowed by hyperinflation.

People shop inside a convenience store at a five-star hotel in Caracas, Venezuela October 12, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello/Files

The clientele of the “bodegones” are primarily well-heeled Venezuelans with earnings in hard currency. But shoppers also include a growing number of residents who receive remittances from some two million Venezuelans who have emigrated to escape hunger and disease.

Reuters visited six newly established stores selling in dollars in Caracas and five other major cities, including the border city of San Cristobal and the once-bustling industrial hub of Valencia, now filled with empty factories.

It was not immediately evident how many such stores have opened nor why the government was not requiring the stores to meet state price controls that are enforced at major supermarket chains.

The Information Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.


The “bodegones” often grab customers’ attention with luxury products such as high-end chocolates or high-tech gadgets.

But the most popular items are personal hygiene products like deodorant and toothpaste that are consistently available in greater variety than in supermarkets, according to store managers.

“People are always asking if we have diapers,” said the manager of a weeks-old shop in eastern Caracas who, like most shop owners who spoke to Reuters, asked not to be identified. They worry that their operations fall within a legal gray area and could be targeted by authorities.

She said her supply of diapers, displayed next to bottles of champagne, always runs out within a week.

Dollarized prices were unthinkable under regulations created by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez. They put the government in charge of carrying out nearly all foreign currency transactions and setting prices for consumer goods.

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Maduro’s government, which often blames shortages and inflation on unscrupulous businesses overcharging or hoarding products, in August lifted a prohibition on the free exchange of hard currency. But the government did not create a law saying such operations are allowed, which has left many shop owners trepidatious about speaking to the media.

In September, as the new bodegones were starting to emerge, the government jailed 34 managers of well-known supermarkets on accusations of price-gouging. They were later released and immediately resigned, according to industry sources.

Maria Uzcategui of commerce association Consecomercio said stores pricing goods in dollars do so “at their own risk,” while the government has turned a blind eye and gone after big-name grocery chains for political effect.

“The arrests are a show to blame retailers for the country’s economic situation,” Uzcategui said. “That is why they single out the large chains, and not small businesses or these new ‘bodegones.’”

Prices at the dollar stores are exorbitant for those living on a bolivar-based salaries. The minimum wage is around $10 per month, and at least 80 percent of the population skips at least one meal per day, according to a quality of life study known as Encovi carried out by private universities.

Meanwhile, some $1.1 billion in annual remittances have turned into a lifeline for civil servants, retirees and salaried professionals who want to avoid waiting in long lines or scouring supermarkets in search of what they need.

Sonia Ramirez, a 52-year-old retired judge in San Cristobal, shops at the ‘bodegones’ with the $120 she gets from her two sons who live in the Dominican Republic and Spain.

“They are always well-supplied, but at much higher prices than what the government requires,” she said.


Chandrababu Naidu’s Opposition Shopping In Delhi Begins With Some Hitches

N Chandrababu Naidu spent Thursday in Delhi opposition-shopping that saw him meeting Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, and Mulayam Singh Yadav, among others. He is said to have spoken to Mamata Banerjee on the phone as well. It is likely that in his mind, Naidu might be working on the 1996 United Front (UF) template in which he played a key role as its convenor in keeping the BJP out of government. But on the ground, it’s a very different political landscape. For one, the UF was a post-poll alliance that was easy to cobble given the lure of power. The fact that despite the existence of a Congress-led UPA, the opposition is tying itself into knots to be seen together shows that the idea of a united opposition before elections is tenuous at best if not stillborn.

Overlooking the fact that this is the umpteenth attempt at opposition unity this year, Naidu’s road is one choc-a-bloc with landmines. Even the one soundbite that he gave after meeting NCP chief Sharad Pawar and NC principal Farooq Abdullah had to be cautiously worded. First, he said that there are many senior leaders in the opposition, but Sharad Pawar is the senior-most. Then he realised that Farooq Abdullah is equally senior (who incidentally left before the joint appearance as he had a flight to catch), so he added that Abdullah was also senior most. The list of equal senior-most leaders in the opposition ranks could go on to include HD Devegowda, Manmohan Singh, Prakash Karat, Mulayam Singh Yadav as well. Of these, two have Prime Ministerial experience, and at least two – Pawar and Yadav – have nurtured visible PM ambitions.

It is intriguing that Pawar, who led the first attempt at opposition unity hosting a dinner at his residence during the last budget session, has perhaps concluded that he need not lead the effort any more. Abdullah left the meeting before it ended ostensibly because he had a flight to catch, leaving Naidu and Pawar to handle the media. Naidu described his meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi as overcoming hesitations of history. But hold on. Does Naidu choose Congress over BJP for the cause of secularism, a glue that would bind anti-BJP parties earlier? Of course not. Just hear what Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted. And we have not even reached Mayawati who has so visibly snubbed the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Naidu used the word “democratic compulsion” to describe his coming together with the Congress. It was a Freudian slip perhaps but gave away the story of entire exercise at opposition unity till date. Each has a compulsion to stick together. Is that compulsion called Modi?


6 Ways Tech Has Reinvented Holiday Shopping

Customers are clearly appreciating the frictionless shopping experience that online platforms and payment providers can offer.

This year shoppers will go about their business in a retail environment where online commerce has taken a bigger piece of the holiday sales pie.

Customers are clearly appreciating the frictionless shopping experience that online platforms and payment providers can offer. It also doesn’t hurt that 59 percent of people, according to a PayPal study, would rather do almost anything than deal with holiday shopping crowds. That includes shoveling snow for a quarter of that group.

Here are six points that highlight how technology has reshaped holiday shopping—and the perceptions of those doing the shopping.

1. Online Holiday Sales This Year Will Rise 17 to 22 Percent

If this prediction announced by Deloitte in September comes to fruition, then online holiday sales will beat last year’s increase of 16.6 percent. All told, e-commerce sales are expected to reach as high as $134 billion—that’s a 22 percent increase year over year—during the 2018 holiday season.

That’s a strong growth rate, but the numbers associated with mobile may eclipse it as we look ahead to 2020 and beyond. Which brings us to point number 2.

2. Sixty-Five Percent Of Millennials Plan To Make A Purchase On A Mobile Device

That’s compared to 48 percent of Gen X shoppers and 30 percent of baby boomers, according to survey data released by RetailMeNot, which publishes websites that give consumers access to coupons.

Millennials demonstrate a higher level of comfort with mobile shopping compared to other age groups. They’re also more likely to demand retail experiences that are personalized and instantaneous, Marissa Tarleton, the chief marketing officer at RetailMeNot, said when the survey came out last month.

Half of retailers that responded to the survey said savings websites and apps are the most effective at increasing sales revenue during the holiday season.

This growth in mobile sales is rippling across the globe. In fact, mobile purchases as a percentage of total digital purchases in Europe increased from 15 percent in 2013 to over 30 percent in 2017.

The Asia-Pacific market’s evolution is even further along — increasing from 32 percent to 65 percent in the same timeframe.

3. Shopping’s Center Of Gravity Has Shifted To November

Before e-commerce, Black Friday was one of the biggest shopping days for brick-and-mortar retail. When consumers started holiday shopping online, Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which debuted in 2005) fueled the trend toward an earlier and longer shopping season.

Adobe Analytics reported that Americans spent $19.62 billion online in 2017 during the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, an increase of 15 percent over the previous year’s totals.

In the words of one online commerce expert: “Holiday online shopping continues to trend earlier and earlier each year, with this year eclipsing last year by about a week.”

But the U.S. holiday shopping spend during this five-day period pales in comparison to Nov. 11 in China. Known as Singles Day, the “holiday” that began as an excuse for students to celebrate being single is now an Alibaba-fueled international shopping tour de force that last year generated $25.3 billion in sales.

4. Generation Z Will Change Digital Commerce

Answers to many of the questions regarding the future of retail may be held by Generation Z, or those born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s.

Generation Z will represent 40 percent of the consumer market by 2020. And because this generation may spend twice as much mobile time shopping than millennials, online retailers must do all they can to adapt to them.

A recent study by LivePerson that polled young consumers in six developed countries found that most would rather leave home without their wallet than without their phone.

Now, it’s true that Gen Z’ers are more likely to shop at the mall than millennials. But pay attention, brick-and-mortar retailers. You’ll still need to be tech-savvy to lure them in. That could mean offering a streamlined “buy online, pickup in store” experience, providing simple methods for purchasing via social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest or supporting social payment methods like Venmo.

Social media’s influence on purchasing is increasing, and while purchasing through social networks has yet to explode, Gen Z’ers are likely to be the catalyst.

5. Holiday Travel Is Almost Entirely Digital

While travel agents continue to provide a valuable service by saving their clients time and putting together itineraries they might not have created on their own, the numbers don’t lie. Only 14 percent of Americans polled at the beginning of 2018 said they had used a travel agent to plan holiday travel. That’s compared to 59 percent who said they used their smartphones to plan their journeys.

Although the European online travel market is growing almost as fast as the U.S., regions like China are bucking the trend by clinging to travel agents.

As forward-thinking travel sites use payment technology like Hyperwallet to simplify the complexities of booking across global regions and currencies, the two largest online travel agencies, Expedia and TripAdvisor, are expected to dominate into the future.

6. New Payment Systems Are Emerging And Streamlining Online Shopping

Just as payment systems like PayPal paved the way for—and continues to offer—a dramatically improved payment process, digital wallets like Apple Pay and Venmo are taking online shopping to the next level.

With Apple Pay, anyone with an iPhone can purchase online and in-store with one click or touch. With Venmo, U.S. customers can check out as easily as they can send money to friends and family. Because consumers can announce their purchases to their networks, businesses that offer Venmo can receive a word-of-mouth marketing bonus.

Shopping online has been a part of our lives since Amazon launched in 1995, but holiday shopping really found its groove around 2010 and 2011, when retail e-commerce sales flourished after a few flat years.

Considering the industry’s evolution during this current decade, imagine what online shopping will be like as we approach 2030. Expect an environment that supersedes by an order of magnitude today’s frictionless experience.


Adobe’s Holiday Predictions Show That Mobile Shopping Is Increasing and Retail Isn’t Dead

Pumpkins are still out on porches and windowsills, but it’s crunch time for retailers as consumers shift into holiday season mode.

It’ll be yet another season where mobile and online shopping continue to grow, at least that’s what data from Adobe’s annual holiday forecast predicts. Taking a look at “trillions of visits to U.S. retail sites,” plus an accompanying companion survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers, the report details what retailers and brands can expect this holiday season.

“The overall takeaway is that the online shopping growth is very healthy,” said Peter Sheldon, senior director of strategy for commerce, Adobe. “The other takeaway [is that] mobile is really coming into its own as a channel.”

Adobe predicts that $124.1 billion online sales will occur this year, representing a 14.8 percent increase from last year’s $108.2 billion. Major shopping days like Cyber Monday present their own findings, such as the “golden hour” of shopping that day, which occurs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET. Consumers will also spend 5 more percent on shipping and return 18 percent more items on Cyber Monday. Though shipping and returns are costly to retailers, Sheldon said not all brands offer free shipping or return and that some “take a strategy” to invest in these perks as a “holiday investment.”

Another revenue opportunity is in mobile shopping—Adobe predicts smartphones will drive 48.3 percent of retail visits and 27.2 percent of revenue. Sheldon said that while mobile revenue is up 11.6 percent year over year, there’s still a lot of friction in mobile checkout and mobile-responsive sites. He said he expects retailers to shift from creating responsive websites to progressive web apps (PWA) next year, which load faster and are used by companies including Starbucks and Debenhams.

“There’s a lot of mobile revenue being left on the table,” Sheldon said. “We’re very bullish [on] the case of [the] mobile experience across retail significantly improving next year.”

Another reason Sheldon thinks companies will move to PWAs is because app users spend 2.4 times more time browsing, look at 30 percent more items, and are two times more likely to order on an app versus the web.

“Apps aren’t going to go away, but we’re going to see a shift in investment dollars away from apps and into PWAs,” Sheldon said.

While social commerce is becoming an increased area of interest for retailers and brands, Adobe’s forecast shows a decrease in revenue per visit of 11 percent, while other referring channels like direct traffic and search are up 36 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Sheldon attributes the decline to “consumer skepticism” coming into play, with people wary of the ads they see on social media and what they click.

But, for retailers who have a bricks-and-clicks strategy, brick and mortar is leading to a 28 percent conversion online. According to consumers Adobe surveyed, 58 percent of millennials will visit a store to see an item that they want to buy online. Another positive area of retail is the buy online, pick up in-store model, which grew 119 percent from January 2018.

“Yes, the store is still playing a critical role as a showroom, as a flagship destination to see the product, try the product etc., but it’s so much more convenient to go home, discuss that purchase,” Sheldon said. “But, ultimately they are buying the product from that retailer.”

The report also shows that retailers don’t need to worry about the midterm elections taking away from visits; while there is a 6 percent dip, it’s predicted to go back up by 8 percent on Friday.

“Some retailers were a bit concerned with the timing of the midterms and the impact it might have on spend and during Thanksgiving period,” Sheldon said. “The retail data that we’ve collected here is really showing that it’s negligible impact.”

Adobe rounds out the report by pointing out the best days for low prices, such as saving 16 percent on Black Friday on computers, as well as when items will be out of stock, such as Nov. 30 for toys. The company also found from the survey that more than 20 percent of people shop while in the bathroom and 5 percent at an event like a wedding. This shows that shopping really can occur anywhere, at anytime..


5 Ways to Finally Master the Natural Eye Makeup Look


Eyeshadow can intimidate a lot of makeup beginners. Take a look on Instagram and you’ll see intricate cut creases, gradients, color layers, and glitter. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re going for more of a natural, day-to-day eye look, you can start simple with a few neutral shadows subtly applied. Sounds easier said than done, of course, but that’s what YouTube is for. We scoured the best natural eye makeup tutorials out there—and found the exact products used—so you can finally master the art of daytime eyeshadow, ahead.

Jessica Clements is a favorite on YouTube for the way she pulls off effortless-looking makeup. In this video, she masterfully demonstrates using a light hand with eyeshadow for slight definition without looking like she’s wearing too much shadow.

Best tip: Instead of a liner, which could be harsh, use an angled brush and smudge matte black eyeshadow close to the lash line for a softer finish.


Maybelline New York The Matte Bar Eyeshadow Palette

Gucci Westman’s Makeup Line Fast-Tracks a Flawless Glow


Every bride has a certain glow about them, but Gwyneth Paltrow’s wedding day luminosity is #goals! And while we didn’t know (until now!) the exact products the 46-year-old actress and creator of lifestyle brand Goop used on her wedding day, we just got a hint of what they might’ve been.

Gwyneth Paltrow
John Dolan

After much mystery, Paltrow shared details Opens a New Window. — and 48 intimate pictures! — of her nuptials to Brad Falchuk on Goop. And there, in “The Sourcebook,” Stylish spied that makeup was done by celebrity beauty guru Gucci Westman. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Westman is a major makeup artist who works with Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Anne Hathaway and more, as well as being a highly sought after editorial makeup maven. But she also just launched what may be one of the coolest and most gorgeous new lines we’ve seen of late, and dare we say, totally bridal.

Westman’s line, dubbed Westman Atelier, is unique because it blends anti-inflammatory, good-for-skin ingredients into its formulas, to battle redness instead of just hiding it as well as keep skin dewy and hydrated throughout wear. The textures of both the cream and powder products are velvety-rich, yet somehow impart a truly natural, your-skin-only-better finish. They are, indeed, the potions one would reach for if they, say, wanted a pumped-up preternatural glow (also known as: the look every bride in her right mind is going for.)

As it turns out, Westman did, in fact, use the line on Gwyneth for her big day! Careful examination of the images posted show the makeup pro dusting the bride’s face using a brush from her new line, which will be out November 5 (though available online now Opens a New Window. !) Perhaps she was wielding the brush to apply the Super Loaded Opens a New Window. highlighter she told Us she used on the bride, as well as Baby Cheeks Opens a New Window. in the shade Dou Dou. For a bit of “grown up contouring,” Westman says she also used her Face Trace Opens a New Window. Contour Stick.

Paltrow’s pics are proof that love is in the air and that Gucci Westman’s chic new line will definitely get you glowing and make you look like you’re not even wearing makeup! Check out our favorite products in the line, below:

James Charles Launches His First-Ever Makeup Collection

James Charles 1280

YouTube creator James Charles is launching his first-ever makeup collection, and it’s everything you need to create gorgeous looks.

Charles, who became the first male CoverGirl ambassador in 2016, announced the exciting news on his channel, which boasts 9.4 million subscribers. The collaboration with Morphe, the makeup brand that often teams up with YouTube’s biggest beauty stars, is aptly called the Sister Collection (he calls his fans “sisters”).

It includes a 39-shade eyeshadow palette, $39, and a set of 34 brushes and blending sponge, $149.

James Charles palette
YouTube/James Charles
James Charles makeup brushes
YouTube/James Charles

The glam guru revealed the products as he swatched the colors and demonstrated the brushes in a video, following a commercial he produced where he shows off various looks created with the versatile palette, which is intended to be the one-stop shop to create any makeup look and #UnleashYourInnerArtist.

Watch the reveal below and get your hands on the must-have collection on Nov. 13 at PST on Morphe’s website before it sells out.

For more beauty, see below:


Here’s some vegan-friendly makeup bits to help you usher in World Vegan Month

Well, you’re in luck – November marks Word Vegan Month. World Vegan Month is celebrated around the world as a time to recognise how far the vegan movement has come, to highlight how accessible and beneficial a vegan lifestyle can be and to encourage the vegan-curious to adopt veganism by sharing advice, recipes and ideas.

If you’re struggling with milk alternatives and sausage substitutes, there is another area of your life that you can look at – your makeup bag.

Yep – while a lot of your makeup might be cruelty-free, that doesn’t necessarily make it vegan. A product that is vegan does not contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients, like beeswax.

If you feel like making the swap for good, here’s some products that are certified vegan:

1. Ofra Highlighter Mini in ‘Rodeo Drive’ (€10.75)

OFRA0298F_1_L Source: BeautyBay

2. BeautyBay Identity 42 Colour palette (€28)

BFBB0017F_1_L Source: BeautyBay

You wouldn’t need another palette ever again with this.

3. Sugarpill Cosmetics liquid lipstick in ‘Trinket’ (€16.50)


This is a really pretty pink colour with some gold going through it. Unique AF.

4. Juvia’s Place palettes – except the ‘Warrior’ palette (starting from €23.50)

The Zulu palette Source: BeautyBay

Juvia’s Place is mad hyped brand because of the insane pigment and price point their palettes offer. There’s definitely one that will float your boat.

5. The Ordinary Coverage Foundation (€6.75)

Source: Beauty Bay

This provides buildable coverage without being heavy or cakey on the skin. A lot of people find it great for hiding broken veins and imperfections too (and that’s for less than €7!)

6. Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow pomade (€21.25)

Source: Beauty Bay

This is my holy grail brow product. You can go as strong or as fluffy as you want with this – it all depends on the application.


KMC appeal Kohima citizen to adopt plastic – free lifestyle

Image result for KMC appeal Kohima citizen to adopt plastic – free lifestyle

Kohima Municipal Council (KMC) today appealed the citizens of Kohima to adopt a plastic-free lifestyle.

In view of the alarming pollution and hazards caused through wastes, particularly plastics in Kohima, the KMC appealed all citizens of the town, offices and institutions both government and private, organizations, business establishments, hotels, restaurants or any such food business operators etc, to reduce, if not completely stop the use of plastics, styrofoam and all such non-biodegradable items.

With the arrival of the festive season, functions and activities of various kinds are continually on the increase, KMC appealed the citizens of the town to abstain from using one –time use plastics like disposable crockery, be it spoons, forks and plates etc and also bottled mineral water in any function, meetings or congregations.

KMC also appealed that effort be made to use steel plates and cups, forks and spoons or any bio-degradable substitutes in the respective place of work, programme or function. Mineral water bottles be replaced by water dispensers, it stated.

The citizens have also been requested to avoid use of plastic carry bags and instead shop with the cloth bag. “Plastics and thermocol cutleries are the biggest pollutants in Nagaland,” said KMC administrator Kovi Meyase. According to survey conducted in by an NGO in Kohima, it is estimated that of the 4309 registered shops, each shop utilizes an average of 472 plastic carry bags per day.

Citizens have also been requested to avoid throwing plastics or garbage into the streams and at the same time, wards have been reminded to put greater efforts into segregation of their wastes from the household level. “Let us join our hands and our minds to make Kohima clean and green again,” said Meyase.