The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 27 December 2017

Retail

Image: Getty Images

Tightening belts

As shoppers move online, US retail giants will have to rethink their business model in order to survive.

The last year has not been kind to bricks-and-mortar retail in the US. Even with end-of-the-year Christmas spirit in full effect, it’s been hard not to notice the empty shops lining some of New York’s most prestigious retail streets. But it isn’t just in cities; whole shopping centres in the US heartland are also emptying out. By all accounts this seems to just be the beginning of retail’s woes, with a quarter of the nation’s 1,200 malls expected to close by 2023. But what might 2018 hold? While retail has certainly wobbled, it is worth noting that it is the big-box players that have become overloaded with debt and are really suffering for it. For those smaller and more nimble businesses, 2018 may be their year – upstart clothing retailer Everlane has already dipped its toe into opening a physical location after finding success online. And with Westfield’s takeover by French property giant Unibail-Rodamco, could the suburban shopping centre see new ideas – and new life?

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Disaster artists

Donald Trump’s ineptitude knows no bounds but he could soon have an equally inept counterpart in Mexico.

He’s a master of gaffes. No, we’re not talking about Donald Trump but Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. In fact, it’s the one thing that could topple the leftist’s candidacy ahead of Mexico’s presidential elections in July next year. A former Mexico City mayor, AMLO (as he’s popularly known) has had two failed attempts at the presidency. But US analysts are curious to see how he’ll do in these elections – and what that could mean for US-Mexican relations. It’s not apparent whether AMLO would clash with the US president should he win: he’s written a book addressed to the leader called Oye, Trump (Listen, Trump), which strikes something of a conciliatory note while promising to fight for Latino migrants.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

Troubled waters

Next year will be strained for the EPA but at least a murky Brooklyn canal is getting a clean-up.

By all accounts, 2018 doesn’t promise to be a banner year for the US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But there are some long-gestating projects that will soon come to fruition, one of them being the clean-up of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal. By spring, phase two of an EPA pilot programme will leave a section of the canal – which has been the site of egregious industrial waste resulting in a 10-foot layer of toxic material on the canal floor – clean for the first time in 100 years. While the water will be far from swimmable, the clean-up comes as the neighbourhood around the canal is exploding with development and new residences. A cleaner waterway is sure to fuel the Gowanus area renaissance.

Media

Image: Shutterstock

Fake news?

US news outlets must improve in 2018, if only to avoid the ire of their president.

Donald Trump may have unfairly lambasted the media in 2017 but he’s right about the industry needing to improve. From Fox News to NBC’s Today show, US outlets have taken a hit from the falling heads from sexual misconduct allegations. There has been some sloppy reporting too. ABC News’ Brian Ross, for example, reported that Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that he had been instructed by then Republican hopeful Donald Trump to initiate contact with Russian officials. He later said that it was after the election – and was then suspended for four months. ABC is not the only offender: Reuters, Bloomberg, CNN and MSNBC have all amended reports on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe or on the Trump campaign. Fake news? Not quite – but the media needs to up its game in 2018.

From Monocle 24

Publish or peril

The way we work and digest information may have changed but São Paulo print-lover Samuel Seibel knows the value of a good bookshop. His Livaria Da Villa bookstores have become cultural hubs throughout Brazil.

From Monocle Films

Property Prospectus: Uzupis

Monocle Films heads to Vilnius to explore Uzupis. This creative and quirky corner of the Lithuanian capital is more than just a neighbourhood – it’s a mini-state.

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