Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
— Steve’s Marketplace —
The Republican National Committee’s annual meeting last week at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island fizzled like defective Chinese fireworks.
In retrospect, any celebratory fireworks were already scrapped following the consequential election losses. RNC members hobbled together here to lick their political wounds. While prominent Republican leaders like Sen. Rand Paul stopped by, mostly low-level staffers huddled in the Ritz conference rooms and lobby bar during the three-day meeting.
After all, the main event of the meeting had to be scrapped. It was to be an appearance by President Trump. Reverberations of the violence in Washington, D.C. forced Trump to remain under tight cover, however.
The Republican party is in disarray. A triumvirate of losses of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House have set Republicans back by light years. And an RNC that was supposed to prevent the unthinkable from happening failed miserably.
The overall week was a catastrophe, as were the feeble meetings.
Hotels Are Hurting
Another revelation of last week was that few people were at the Ritz. Other than the badge-wearing RNC folks, that is. Like the Republican party, hotels are hurting. The culprit in this case is the Covid-19 virus.
Similar languid news came from the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. And there are reports that at least one hotel on the island may suspend operations. Meanwhile, two new hotels are nearing completion – adding 300 more rooms to the crowded equation.
Hotel reservations have dropped off a mountainous cliff, and bed-tax collections have suffered mightily. Jobs have been lost. Some prized hotels may be permanently impaired. Our area has been dealt a Mike Tyson-like blow.
The vaccines cannot be mobilized fast enough to improve the health of travel and leisure businesses, here and around the state.
While Walmart shoppers are sometimes vilified, they may be telling us something. And it’s a meaningful, non-discounted message.
Walmart shoppers don’t expect the U.S. economy to bounce back quickly from the pandemic, according to its chief customer officer. The Walmart executive spoke at a virtual National Retail Federation conference recently.
In fact, almost half of Walmart shoppers commented in a survey that they are worried about the health of the U.S. economy. Walmart stores have remained open during the pandemic, providing necessary goods like toilet paper, food and sanitizing products.
Same-store sales rose by more than 6 percent in the last quarter for Walmart, while e-commerce sales skyrocketed by 79 percent as people shopped online during the pandemic. Walmart has 4,700 stores in the U.S., with a smaller one in Fernandina Beach and a superstore in Yulee. Walmart also plans to open health clinics in its stores, with low prices on the services like a $30 annual checkup.
Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor with a regional brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. He has published a book of his favorite columns, “All About Money,” which is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. His columns also appear in newspapers in North Florida and South Georgia, as well as on his website at www.SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected]