Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Economic Impact by Ira Riklis

Major Economic Impact of Black Friday and the main drivers as well as the ways on how they are indicated.

Black Friday is traditionally one of the busiest days, and it's a day after Thanksgiving on which retail stores draw in many shoppers by offering discounts on their sales items. Black Friday economic impact is often intense because of the people's impetus to spend during the holiday season with their lovely family and friends. Interestingly, National Retail Federation (NRF) statistics shows that 30 percent of retailers' annual sales are recorded between Black Friday and Christmas. Additionally, NRF statistics shows that 2.5 percent increase in annual sales during this period over the past ten years. Retail stores, as well as the stock market, records a black.

What Are The Black Friday Economic Impacts?

Retail stores issue discounts in various forms to avail cheaper items to shoppers through various
forms such as cash discount or in-store sales concepts like coupons and other models. Additionally, retail stores can as well make more profits by filtering their customers according to status or preferences such as taste and sell their items at different higher prices to different consumers. For instance, a coupon or discount can be issued according to one's social status or seniority. Also, retail stores get the opportunity to extend their relationship in future with their consumers through warranties, replacement plans or brand affinity with other attractive and quality brands in the store.
Black Friday has major economic impact that includes:
  • Employment increment opportunity: with a higher expectation of receiving more consumers, retail stores employ thousands of seasonal employees to render their service to the expected high number of consumers. It is estimated that over 700,000 seasonal employees are employed during this period.
  • Increased consumer spending: In 2014 alone, the average consumer spending was about $802. Consumers are driven to spend more during this period because of the discounts offered as well as the Christmas spirit that drives them to spend more than any other time of the year.
  • Abnormal sales experienced by retail stores: there is a potential by retail stores to make between 30 to 40 percent of their annual sales on a Black Friday. This is usually an opportunity for the retail stores to make more sales and is an economic period that is often planned earlier by the stores.
  • The upsurge in online sales and relationship for many businesses: most shoppers visit websites for clues and choosing the preferred brand. This is a great opportunity for businesses to improve their online presences for better sales and economic benefits.
  • The upsurge in stock trade: stock markets experience a high number of trading activities on Black Friday. Black Friday is the leading indicator because of the consumers' willingness to spend and that enables investors and stock traders to gain more confidence. A thriving and profitable shopping season drives the investors to invest as well because of the higher sales made by the company and increased impetus by consumers to spend.

Other Probable Role of Black Friday On The Economy

Black Friday acts as an indicator of how stable the economy is. When consumers withhold their spending than other periods, economic experts advise that it indicates the economic state of the nation. Higher spending level indicates a good economy or a potential economic standpoint in the coming period. That is because consumers' willingness to spend instead of saving indicates a stable economy or expected future economic prosperity.

Black Friday is, therefore, an important day not only for retail stores owners and consumers but in economic aspect as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Your Health Data Can Be Hacked by Ira Riklis

Advancement in technology used to store health data has led to health data breaches through cybercrimes, connected devices and personal and home devices.

Even in the profoundly privacy-regulated medical care sector, few individuals know how susceptible most of our systems- from connected medical devices to Electronic Health Records (EHR)- are to cyber hacks. With the current headlines on Washington Post highlighting how hackers can benefit here.
A you have been hacked warning sign
greatly by breaching your heath data, read the report

Most medical organizations don't perceive themselves as targets for complex cyber attacks. Sadly, this is not the plain truth. It shouldn't be perplexing that larceny of patient information is on the rise since this data is greatly more valuable. Financial services firms have become very vigilant at fighting credit card theft, especially by promptly recognizing and revoking compromised credit cards. However, medical data contains birth dates, social security numbers, as well as physical descriptions, but steps towards protecting this information are lacking.


Causes Of Health Data Breach

Certainly, a contributing aspect to the augmenting rate of healthcare breaches is the technological advancements of the health record. Even though there are many clinical benefits of shifting from paper record systems, it has caused patient breaches to a big extent. The pursuit of rolling out EHRs has not constantly been coupled with adequate investment in the protection infrastructure to enhance this milieu, leaving some medical systems unduly at risk.

The anthem hack, just like other top-profile breaches we have heard about in past years- is not a denunciation of any specific organization or yet technological resolution. Hackers plus their tools are becoming increasingly refined while most of our systems, in medical care and somewhere else simply aren't vigilant.


To What Extent Are You Exposed?


As healthcare providers rethink their safety strategies against advanced threats, they have to consider three major methods that hackers can apply in hacking your health data.
  • Conventional cyber attacks- Trojans, phishing schemes, ransomware, and malware are some types of cybercrimes that occur to all parties, although some are riskier than others. There are minimal built-in protection and essential security mindset in the healthcare industry compared to other industries, therefore, more vulnerable to cybercrimes. Malicious software that is deployed via spam, targeted attacks, infected mobile devices, compromised websites or others, expose sensitive data and create costly IT headaches.
  • Connected devices- nowadays, all from heart monitors to IV pumps can be networked and virtually interfaced with EMR systems, offering concurrent alerts to healthcare institutions. This is a noble thing given operational efficiency and patient care, but a possible nightmare
    Person going under a CT Scan
    from a security standpoint. Several diagnostic machines such as MRI machines and CT Scanners were designed without security in mind. They use outdated Microsoft Windows while other devices basically use software meant to collect but not protect data. Needless to say these devices are easy to hack and, once one of it is hacked and infringed, it can offer hackers with free access to extra clinical data systems.
  • Personal and home medical devices- If you have health devices and apps, those apps and medical devices in your home are collecting and transferring personal health information increasingly. They often link directly with clinical data systems and EHRs, escalating risks in case those systems are attacked. Whether it is a home glucose monitor or that iPhone app, it can be an attack platform.

Bottom Line

Your health data can be hacked since medical data lies in several devices, medical practices, systems in hospitals, insurance companies or even your HR databases. Today, IT is not an add-on service for the medical care sector; it has become key to efficient, successful care of you. Reuters reports that healthcare providers and even medical insurers should invest in updated, developed protection, wireless access and application security, and high-speed firewalls to safeguard people's medical data.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chipotle Shares Affected By E. Coli Outbreak by Ira Riklis

Ira Riklis looks at the health outbreaks like the E. Coli outbreak that has caused the restaurant chain to close some restaurants causing its shares to drop.

Chipotle is a Mexican grill restaurant that specializes in Burritos and Tacos. It has branches all over
Chipotle Mexican Grill Sign
the United States of America, Canada Germany and the United Kingdom. It has been operating for a little over two decades now. In the recently however, you might have read about outbreaks that have threatened the continued operations of these restaurant chains.

Health Scares Under Investigations

In September 2015, there was an outbreak of Salmonella in Minnesota. The outbreak was linked to victims who had had a meal at some of the Chipotle restaurants that are in Minnesota. According to reports, there were at least 45 people who had fallen ill after they had consumed some food from the Chipotle food outlet. Further investigations revealed that 32 out of 34 of those who fell sick had eaten at Chipotles in Rochester or St. Cloud.

 Investigators with the Minnesota Health Department believed strongly that the source of the outbreak could have been in one of the products that were used to prepare meals at Chipotle. That was later confirmed when they found out that the tomatoes that were served at the restaurants were responsible for the outbreak.

Recent E. Coli Outbreaks

For the third time this year, Chipotle is on the receiving end of criticism after an E. Coli outbreak that has been linked to them again. Several news outlets have reported that some of the Chipotle Restaurants in Washington and Oregon were shut down pending investigations as to the cause of the E. Coli outbreak in these restaurants. The number of those who have fallen ill due to the E. Coli in Western Washington was at 19 with about 7 of those having been hospitalized in the past few days. The number is expected to rise even further according to health officials in these regions.

 Investigations are still going on, and everyone who has the symptoms of E. Coli is being urged to go to the health officials to get tested. That is going to help in gathering more clues as to what might be causing this outbreak. If you know someone who has some of the following symptoms severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, vomiting and slight fever if present at all, you better advise them to visit the nearest hospital to get tested for the E. Coli bacteria.

Shares Facing A Downward Spiral

As you can expect from such a scenario, the shares of this franchise have fallen following the outbreaks and the subsequent closure of some of the branches.

To put it into perspective, here are some figures; from a recent week, Chipotle dropped by 2.5% to close at $624 which meant that they have lost about half a billion dollars of their market value. And before that, they had dropped by 6.5% throughout the year. This is a blow that is bound to make even the mightiest of corporations to shutter a little bit.

This Mexican food restaurant is experiencing slow growth at the moment, and the company spokesperson has been reported saying that the turnover in the recent past has been "choppy". Now with about 47 of their restaurants closed until further notice, you can only imagine what is going to happen to the shares if the situation persists for long.