Gaza airstrikes, UK reopening plans, $26 million laundry

Gaza airstrikes, UK reopening plans, $26 million laundry

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Israeli airstrikes killed over 40 Palestinians. The attacks came as Hamas launched more than 100 rockets at Israel, making Sunday the deadliest day in the latest flare-up of violence. A building housing the offices of major international news outlets was destroyed by Israeli missiles.

The EU and US are expected to reach a metals tariff truce. Under the temporary resolution, Europe will refrain from doubling tariffs on a list of American products to 50% in retaliation for duties on steel and aluminum.

A top Indian virologist quit as a Covid-19 advisor. Shahid Jameel resigned as chair of a group focused on coronavirus variants after penning an op-ed criticizing Narendra Modi’s government of resisting evidence-based policymaking.

UNICEF urged G7 countries to donate Covid-19 shots. The United Nations agency wants rich nations to contribute supplies to the Covax vaccine-sharing scheme to make up for the shortfall from India.

China’s retail sales numbers missed the mark. Consumer spending grew 17.7% in April from a year ago, a slowdown from March and a sign of sluggish economic recovery.

Microsoft investigated Bill Gates before his resignation. The firm’s board conducted a probe into the co-founder’s alleged sexual relationship with an employee and decided he should step down in 2020. Gates resigned before a formal decision was announced.

A massive media deal is brewing. AT&T, the owner of WarnerMedia and HBO, is in talks with rival Discovery about combining their assets, with a deal possible as early as today.

What to watch for

While Brits eagerly await the return of overseas travel and trips to crowded pubs, a Covid-19 variant that’s wreaking havoc on India is spreading throughout the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters that the B.1.617.2 variant is more transmissible than the U.K.’s main strain and “it is likely it will become the dominant variant.” Cases of the variant have doubled in the UK over the last week, though infections and deaths continue to trend downward.

Though prime minister Boris Johnson has decided to ramp up vaccinations to combat the variant, a delayed reopening this week does more than dash the hopes of shoppers and diners: it throws the effort to enter the final reopening phase by June into serious doubt.

“This isn’t over yet,” Hancock told the BBC. “The virus has just gained a bit of pace and we’ve therefore all got to be that bit much more careful and cautious.”

Charting post-pandemic in-person shopping

The pandemic accelerated and likely solidified consumers’ adoption of e-commerce. While companies with robust e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Walmart have the revenue to show for it, a number of retailers without a strong online presence are doubling down on their brick-and-mortar strategies.

Top 20 2021 US store openings by retailer

Many of these discount retailers have inventory and pricing strategies that makes a move online impractical, and they’re betting on in-person shopping for the foreseeable future.

Stores are here to stay

Chrome-like illustration of business with geo-tag icon on top of it
Image: Illustration by Vasya Kolotusha

Experts believe a lot of the digital shopping habits consumers picked up during the pandemic are here to stay, even if e-commerce sales moderate as life eventually returns to normal.

UBS, an investment bank, predicts roughly 80,000 stores could close by 2026 in the US alone as online shopping grows even more common. It’s the beginning of the end for brick-and-mortar shops, right?

Well, no. Even in the midst of a pandemic, consumers in the US and UK have been making the majority of their purchases in stores. The reality is, stores aren’t going away. As virtual as our lives have become, we’re still physical bodies operating in physical spaces. But there’s no doubt the way companies use stores is changing as technology alters the way we buy things.

✦  Few areas of business are changing more than retail. Try a Quartz membership during Retail Week and enjoy a discount on our field guides and news coverage. Try membership free for a week, and use the code RETAILWEEK for 40% off!

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Surprising discoveries

Houston police found the loose tiger. India, owned by Victor and Georgia Cuevas, was surrendered to police Saturday.

Historic bookstores in Paris are struggling. Despite being designated essential businesses, the double whammy of e-commerce and the pandemic is taking a toll.

Cloudflare knows we’re tired of CAPTCHAs. The company that connects users to websites has a new security key that saves time and headaches, but it won’t phase those pesky alphanumerics out for a while.

A California woman washed her $26 million lottery ticket. Despite video evidence that proves her purchase, her prize might go to local public schools.

The Suez Canal will be deeper and wider. Egypt began dredging works to avoid another major disruption to international commerce.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, security keys, and UK travel agents to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Mary Hui, Tripti Lahiri, Alexandra Ossola, Marc Bain, Oliver Staley, and Jordan Lebeau.