Today's Topics

3 charts on the menu today:

  • Have we passed the peak of coronavirus? We explore the latest data.
  • Amazon is king of e-commerce, but Shopify wants its crown.
  • How Nintendo is shaking up the console market.
Around the world governments have begun debating the safest and most effective way to begin removing restrictions on movement, but have we really passed the peak in the worst affected countries?

We've plotted the 7-day rolling average of fatalities due to COVID-19, for the 9 worst affected countries, and for the most part it's quite promising.

Spain, Italy and France – 3 of the worst affected countries – are all now recording fatalities at 25-30% of the numbers seen back in early April, when COVID-19 seemed to peak across all 3. Germany and Belgium, who weren't quite as badly impacted, have also seen steep declines with daily fatalities now hovering a little over 100 a day in both.

In the UK daily fatalities for the last 7 days have still averaged over 550, which is down from the peak of ~950. The US also looks to have "passed its peak" although only just, with its average daily fatality rate inching down to ~1800, from a peak of around 2200. Brazil is sadly still on the scary part of its trajectory, with fatalities seemingly still increasing quite rapidly. 

Lawmakers will hopefully be looking at more specific regional data than we are here. New York for example was considerably ahead of other urban areas in the US in its outbreak, meaning its lockdown timeline might be also.

Can we trust the data?

Governments are counting fatalities slightly differently, making comparisons between countries a little murky, but not impossible. Our goal with these charts was to try and get a sense of where each country was on their own timeline. As long as individual governments are internally consistent through time then making judgements about where each country is vs. its peak is quite reasonable.

For really solid comparisons between countries, we will have to start looking at total deaths, as the Financial Times have brilliantly begun doing. By comparing total deaths in 2020, i.e. not just those that specifically state COVID-19 on the death certificate, to a more "typical year" we will get a sense of the true human cost of this pandemic, including "indirect" deaths. Unfortunately that data is usually quite slow to be reported, so while "more accurate" it doesn't give us the timely insight that the official daily numbers do.

Even before we all got locked inside, e-commerce was a huge market, and Amazon has been its king for a while. Recently though it has had to stop worrying about Walmart or eBay taking its lunch and instead start looking at Shopify, the platform that's helped bring e-commerce to the masses.

Shopify has made it possible for thousands of entrepreneurs and brands to set up an online store, without having to write a single line of code. That ease of use has meant that stores "powered" by Shopify now represent ~6% of all retail e-commerce sales in the US (data from eMarketer). That's a chunky share of an enormous market, but it's still far from catching Amazon – which accounts for almost 40% of every retail dollar spent online.

Up, up and away

The genius of Shopify's strategy in recent years has been to scale with its customers, with tiers of packages. That means that whether you sell a few novelty tee-shirts a couple times a month, or you're responsible for a global brand, Shopify has a package for you. That flexibility to scale brought them clients like Kylie Jenner, who last year became the world's youngest ever billionaire thanks in part to her enormous cosmetics brand, sold through Shopify.

The SIY (sell-it-yourself) model might become increasingly attractive for lots of media companies as well. Earlier this year Amazon flexed its muscles when they changed their commission rates for affiliates. The affiliate program allows its members to earn commissions for driving traffic to Amazon that then results in a sale.

Commissions on furniture and home improvement products were slashed from 8% to 3%. If you're a small publisher writing about furniture and had become reliant on kickbacks from Amazon, it's not exactly easy to pivot your strategy, and you're certainly not going to be able to get on the phone with Jeff Bezos and try and negotiate a better deal. Shopify will be hoping you source some furniture of your own to sell, and that you do it on their platform.
For much of the last 20 years, the battle to be king of the home gaming console (as opposed to portable) has been fought between PlayStation and Xbox. However, Nintendo's most recent effort, the Nintendo Switch, has just passed the Xbox One in total sales, despite the Xbox getting more than a 3 year head start. That makes the Switch the first really successful mass-market hybrid console, able to be played on a TV or in handheld mode. 

Nintendo has entered the home game

For many years Nintendo was known for its portable devices. If your childhood didn't include playing Pokemon, Zelda, Super Mario and Tetris on a Nintendo Game Boy then you certainly missed out.

But then came the smartphone. Games like Fruit Ninja, Temple Run and Angry Birds were enough to satiate the casual gamers. Things looked bleak for Nintendo, and they got even bleaker after 2012 when the Nintendo Wii U sold just ~14m units, way down on the success of the original Wii, which shipped more than 100m.

Since then Nintendo have switched things up, literally, and are now increasingly eating into the duopoly that the PlayStation and Xbox have enjoyed for many years. 

Data Snacks

1) The Bank of England has warned that the UK is likely to experience its deepest recession for 300 years, with output likely to fall around 30% in the first half of 2020, according to their forecasts.

2) A website tracking job losses at tech companies and start-ups has now recorded almost 45,000 layoffs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

3) The NYTimes has published a poll revealing that nearly half of men surveyed have said they do most of the home schooling or distance learning for their kids. Just 3% of women surveyed agreed.

4) Peloton's revenue has jumped +66% year-on-year, with the company's financial chief citing order backlogs in every region as demand for home fitness equipment skyrockets. Peloton shares are up 36% so far in 2020.

5) Today is VE Day, with numerous countries around the world holding commemorations and ceremonies to mark 75 years since the end of WW2 in Europe.

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