The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 25 August 2017

Retail

Image: Alamy

Prime position

Amazon may be taking over Seattle but the rise of online shopping isn’t doing the city’s independent businesses any harm.

Seattle has become the US’s biggest company town thanks to the rising fortunes of one business: Amazon. The e-commerce company, founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, owns a staggering 19 per cent of all prime office space in the city. Analysis conducted for The Seattle Times shows that Amazon now occupies more office space than the city’s next 43 leading employers combined and it’s only set to grow. Within the next five years its footprint of 8.1 million square feet is expected to soar to more than 12 million. Whereas e-commerce has long been criticised for hastening the demise of bricks-and-mortar shops, Amazon’s ascendence has been echoed by an impressive revival in independent retail in Seattle, according to the newspaper: between 2010 and 2015 retail sales grew by 19 per cent, faster than in any other neighbouring cities.

Crime

Image: Getty Images

Bogus journey

A report has pinpointed Greece as a key stopover for fake goods entering the EU.

If China is the engine of the global counterfeiting industry, Greece is its gateway into the EU. According to a recent report published by the EU’s Intellectual Property Office and Europol, everything from counterfeit cosmetics to clothing make their way into the EU via Greek ports. Cigarettes take the lead, accounting for 27 per cent of all imitation products. This year alone 496,000 cigarettes originating from Vietnam were seized in a single maritime consignment in Greece. A further 500,000 packets were recovered while in transit to Poland. Fake feta is a big issue too. Food and drink facsimiles are particularly concerning for public health and, while detection systems are in place, it might be best to double-check that your feta is actually Greek and that your bottle of Prosecco is from Italy next time you’re at the shops.

Tourism

Image: Getty Images

Beyond backpackers

A Thai property developer is targeting tourists with a sophisticated showcase in Singapore.

Tourism in the land of smiles is booming. And while some 35 million visitors this year are a boon to Thailand’s growing economy, the country is not resting on its laurels. Private and government enterprises are tirelessly promoting the nation overseas and one of them is Sansiri. The Thai property developer has just announced its first Finest Thai festival, which will bring some of the best Thai talent – from food to fashion – to Singapore this September. Big names including fashion brand Q Design and Play and cult musicians Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band will be there, highlighting that Thailand’s moved beyond its “backpacker-haven” status. It’s a much more sophisticated approach than many other nations choose when promoting themselves overseas and, besides boosting tourism, the event will also shine a light on Thailand’s burgeoning creative economy.

Media

Image: Alamy

Get off my land

A US clothing brand is taking out its first TV advert, although it’s not just about boosting sales.

Outdoor brand Patagonia – a household name around the globe – arguably doesn’t need to advertise. Which is why it wasn’t until this Sunday that it took out its first ever television spot. But the reasons for the airtime seem to be motivated by much more than simple revenue. The company founded by Yvon Chouinard, who stars in the ad, has long been an advocate of public lands. And as Trump has threatened to declassify some US national monuments, opening them up to potential private sales, the brand has felt the need to step in. In the $700,000 advert, aired in Montana, Utah and Nevada, Chouinard describes a few “self-serving politicians who want to sell them off and make money”. Let’s hope Trump simply has his hands full with too many other troubles to risk what are some of the country’s most spectacular sites.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

Egypt: Suez Canal

The Urbanist

Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway and stands as a symbol of Egypt’s potential power on the world stage.

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