5:01 and Done: No One Wants to Schmooze After Work
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,599,192 (-0.51%)       Melbourne $986,501 (-0.24%)       Brisbane $938,846 (+0.04%)       Adelaide $864,470 (+0.79%)       Perth $822,991 (-0.13%)       Hobart $755,620 (-0.26%)       Darwin $665,693 (-0.13%)       Canberra $994,740 (+0.67%)       National $1,027,820 (-0.13%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $746,448 (+0.19%)       Melbourne $495,247 (+0.53%)       Brisbane $534,081 (+1.16%)       Adelaide $409,697 (-2.19%)       Perth $437,258 (+0.97%)       Hobart $531,961 (+0.68%)       Darwin $367,399 (0%)       Canberra $499,766 (0%)       National $525,746 (+0.31%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,586 (+169)       Melbourne 15,093 (+456)       Brisbane 7,795 (+246)       Adelaide 2,488 (+77)       Perth 6,274 (+65)       Hobart 1,315 (+13)       Darwin 255 (+4)       Canberra 1,037 (+17)       National 44,843 (+1,047)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,675 (+47)       Melbourne 7,961 (+171)       Brisbane 1,636 (+24)       Adelaide 462 (+20)       Perth 1,749 (+2)       Hobart 206 (+4)       Darwin 384 (+2)       Canberra 914 (+19)       National 21,987 (+289)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $770 (-$10)       Melbourne $590 (-$5)       Brisbane $620 ($0)       Adelaide $595 (-$5)       Perth $650 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 ($0)       Canberra $700 ($0)       National $654 (-$3)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 (+$10)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $620 ($0)       Adelaide $470 ($0)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $460 (-$10)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 (-$5)       National $583 (+$1)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,253 (-65)       Melbourne 5,429 (+1)       Brisbane 3,933 (-4)       Adelaide 1,178 (+17)       Perth 1,685 ($0)       Hobart 393 (+25)       Darwin 144 (+6)       Canberra 575 (-22)       National 18,590 (-42)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,894 (-176)       Melbourne 4,572 (-79)       Brisbane 1,991 (+1)       Adelaide 377 (+6)       Perth 590 (+3)       Hobart 152 (+6)       Darwin 266 (+10)       Canberra 525 (+8)       National 15,367 (-221)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.50% (↓)       Melbourne 3.11% (↓)       Brisbane 3.43% (↓)       Adelaide 3.58% (↓)     Perth 4.11% (↑)      Hobart 3.78% (↑)      Darwin 5.47% (↑)        Canberra 3.66% (↓)       National 3.31% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 5.09% (↑)        Melbourne 6.09% (↓)       Brisbane 6.04% (↓)     Adelaide 5.97% (↑)        Perth 7.14% (↓)       Hobart 4.50% (↓)       Darwin 7.78% (↓)       Canberra 5.83% (↓)       National 5.76% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)        National 0.9% (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 28.7 (↓)       Melbourne 30.7 (↓)       Brisbane 31.0 (↓)       Adelaide 25.4 (↓)       Perth 34.0 (↓)       Hobart 34.8 (↓)       Darwin 35.1 (↓)       Canberra 28.5 (↓)       National 31.0 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 25.8 (↓)       Melbourne 30.2 (↓)       Brisbane 27.6 (↓)       Adelaide 21.8 (↓)       Perth 37.8 (↓)       Hobart 25.2 (↓)       Darwin 24.8 (↓)       Canberra 41.1 (↓)       National 29.3 (↓)           
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5:01 and Done: No One Wants to Schmooze After Work

Office happy hours, client dinners and other after-hours work gatherings lose their lustre as more people feel the pull of home

By ANNE MARIE CHAKER
Thu, Sep 14, 2023 9:11amGrey Clock 3 min

Patience for after-hours work socialising is wearing thin.

After an initial burst of post pandemic happy hours, rubber chicken dinners and mandatory office merriment, many employees are adopting a stricter 5:01-and-I’m-done attitude to their work schedules. More U.S. workers say they’re trying to draw thicker lines between work and the rest of life, and that often means clocking out and eschewing invites to socialise with co-workers. Corporate event planners say they’re already facing pushback for fall activities and any work-related functions that take place on weekends.

“The flake-out rate is so much higher at events now,” says Gretchen Goldman, a research director in Takoma Park, Md.

This summer Goldman sent an invite to 100 colleagues for casual after-work drinks at some picnic tables just outside the office as a goodbye party. She was taking a new job with the federal government. Fewer than 10 showed up.

“I guess people are just busy,” she says.

The pandemic altered eating and drinking habits, and pandemic puppies, now fully grown dogs, have to be walked on a schedule. With fewer people back in offices, there are fewer impromptu happy hours and a lack of interest in staying out late with colleagues, some bosses and workers say.

Andy Challenger oversees employees who participate in the fantasy football league at his outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas. When some of them floated the same game plan as prior years—an in-office pizza party that goes past 11 p.m. as everybody drafts their favourite players—the pushback was swift. This season, the pizza arrived at 4:30 p.m. and everyone was finished and out of the office by 6 p.m.

“Normally that would have been the starting time,” he says.

For decades, an unspoken rule of office culture has been that much of work happens outside the 9-to-5 window. Getting ahead often requires being known outside the building and having organisational allies—the type of networking that’s helped by showing up for dinner with the boss and getting relaxed face time with co-workers at happy hours, says Jon Levy, a New York City-based consultant who advises organisations on connection and culture.

Now, even the go-getters are saying no to after-hours schmoozing opportunities.

The thinking is: “That 20th happy hour isn’t going to produce anything better for me,” Levy says.

People are less jazzed about eating out once they are home, and many got pretty good at making dinner during the pandemicsays David Portalatin, food industry adviser at Circana Group, a market research firm.

“When the consumer stretches and builds new muscles, they don’t abandon those behaviours completely,” he says.

In the past year, U.S. consumers had 264 million restaurant dinners after leaving work, which is down 43% from 2019 levels, according to Circana. And reservations are now earlier: In 2023, 26% of after-work restaurant dinners happened before 6 p.m., compared with 21% in 2019.

Barbara Martin hosts bimonthly evening soirees for clients of her marketing firm, Brand Guild. Traditionally, cocktails start flowing around 6:30 p.m. and the mingling could last until 9 o’clock—or beyond. But last Thursday she pulled the start time forward to 5:30 p.m. sharp.

“‘I’d love to come to these if you could do them earlier,’” Martin says she’s heard again and again this summer. “Nobody wants to overbook themselves until 10 p.m. on a weeknight anymore.”

Attitudes don’t appear to be changing as the summer vacation season ends. Kay Ciesla is helping organise an all-staff gathering for 80 people at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Washington, D.C., nonprofit where she works as a governance executive. She is considering an ax-throwing theme, and serving finger foods and cocktails.

“I’m already getting pushback,” she says of spending precious time that bleeds into personal hours on team building. Due to scheduling conflicts the group can’t gather until December. One employee voiced concern that the socialising could turn into a superspreader event ahead of Christmas travel.

Doug Quattrini, an event planner in the Philadelphia area, has already booked six Christmas parties. What’s different this year, he says, is that most are on weekdays, in the office—and end at 8 p.m.

“Nobody wants to take up people’s Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” says Fausto Pifferrer, co-owner of Blue Elephant Catering in Saco, Maine, near Portland, which has booked several office holiday parties for Monday through Thursday.

Younger Americans are drinking less. The share of people between 18 and 34 who said they “ever” drink alcohol has fallen to 62% from 72% two decades ago, according to Gallup data.

Caroline Wong, the chief strategy officer at Cobalt, a cybersecurity company in San Francisco, quit drinking in her early 30s and tries to plan social gatherings sans alcohol. A team off-site next month will be a tour of waterfalls near Portland, Ore. She’s noticed things wrap up earlier when there’s no drinking involved.

“It’s like, ‘You know what, we hung out for 90 minutes. We’re good and I’ll see you tomorrow,’” Wong says. “I think there’s something awesome about that.”



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Why Prices of the World’s Most Expensive Handbags Keep Rising

Designers are charging more for their most recognisable bags to maintain the appearance of exclusivity as the industry balloons

By CAROL RYAN
Tue, Mar 5, 2024 3 min

The price of a basic Hermès Birkin handbag has jumped $1,000. This first-world problem for fashionistas is a sign that luxury brands are playing harder to get with their most sought-after products.

Hermès recently raised the cost of a basic Birkin 25-centimeter handbag in its U.S. stores by 10% to $11,400 before sales tax, according to data from luxury handbag forum PurseBop. Rarer Birkins made with exotic skins such as crocodile have jumped more than 20%. The Paris brand says it only increases prices to offset higher manufacturing costs, but this year’s increase is its largest in at least a decade.

The brand may feel under pressure to defend its reputation as the maker of the world’s most expensive handbags. The “Birkin premium”—the price difference between the Hermès bag and its closest competitor , the Chanel Classic Flap in medium—shrank from 70% in 2019 to 2% last year, according to PurseBop founder Monika Arora. Privately owned Chanel has jacked up the price of its most popular handbag by 75% since before the pandemic.

Eye-watering price increases on luxury brands’ benchmark products are a wider trend. Prada ’s Galleria bag will set shoppers back a cool $4,600—85% more than in 2019, according to the Wayback Machine internet archive. Christian Dior ’s Lady Dior bag and the Louis Vuitton Neverfull are both 45% more expensive, PurseBop data show.

With the U.S. consumer-price index up a fifth since 2019, luxury brands do need to offset higher wage and materials costs. But the inflation-beating increases are also a way to manage the challenge presented by their own success: how to maintain an aura of exclusivity at the same time as strong sales.

Luxury brands have grown enormously in recent years, helped by the Covid-19 lockdowns, when consumers had fewer outlets for spending. LVMH ’s fashion and leather goods division alone has almost doubled in size since 2019, with €42.2 billion in sales last year, equivalent to $45.8 billion at current exchange rates. Gucci, Chanel and Hermès all make more than $10 billion in sales a year. One way to avoid overexposure is to sell fewer items at much higher prices.

Many aspirational shoppers can no longer afford the handbags, but luxury brands can’t risk alienating them altogether. This may explain why labels such as Hermès and Prada have launched makeup lines and Gucci’s owner Kering is pushing deeper into eyewear. These cheaper categories can be a kind of consolation prize. They can also be sold in the tens of millions without saturating the market.

“Cosmetics are invisible—unless you catch someone applying lipstick and see the logo, you can’t tell the brand,” says Luca Solca, luxury analyst at Bernstein.

Most of the luxury industry’s growth in 2024 will come from price increases. Sales are expected to rise by 7% this year, according to Bernstein estimates, even as brands only sell 1% to 2% more stuff.

Limiting volume growth this way only works if a brand is so popular that shoppers won’t balk at climbing prices and defect to another label. Some companies may have pushed prices beyond what consumers think they are worth. Sales of Prada’s handbags rose a meagre 1% in its last quarter and the group’s cheaper sister label Miu Miu is growing faster.

Ramping up prices can invite unflattering comparisons. At more than $2,000, Burberry ’s small Lola bag is around 40% more expensive today than it was a few years ago. Luxury shoppers may decide that tried and tested styles such as Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull bag, which is now a little cheaper than the Burberry bag, are a better buy—especially as Louis Vuitton bags hold their value better in the resale market.

Aggressive price increases can also drive shoppers to secondhand websites. If a barely used Prada Galleria bag in excellent condition can be picked up for $1,500 on luxury resale website The Real Real, it is less appealing to pay three times that amount for the bag brand new.

The strategy won’t help everyone, but for the best luxury brands, stretching the price spectrum can keep the risks of growth in check.

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