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This is the third post in a five-part blog series focused on the consumer products industry.

Companies in the consumer goods sector that are trying to expand may want to start looking to Asia.  If a company successfully gains recognition in Asia it could mean a huge amount of profits, however, this is an extremely difficult market for foreign companies to penetrate.  Because this region is experiencing income and economic growth, the people are able to do more and more discretionary spending.  In Asia’s emerging economies, there is about $4 trillion in new spending and as the millennial generation gains income, there are many new first time spenders. 

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2018 could be a very important year for the Chinese economy, with retail sales expected to exceed those of the United States this year.  In the past, China’s economy has been largely supported by its manufacturing businesses, but now, there is a decline in manufacturing and an increase consumer spending and importing.  Considering that China is the largest export economy for approximately 40 countries today, by the year 2030, many more countries may be relying on exporting to China.  This includes the United States, who currently purchase almost 20% of China’s total exports. In fact, China currently buys over 20% of total sales from major companies such as Apple, Boeing, and General Motors.  Many imports to China are coming from the United States, including approximately one out of every five cars sold in China.  One factor that has contributed to the increased spending by Chinese consumers is the fact that there have been increases in their incomes.  

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2017 was a busy year for the food industry with many mergers and acquisitions taking place, and this is expected to continue into 2018.  According to the Food Institute data, 587 companies completed mergers and acquisitions last year.  This is a considerable increase from the 505 mergers and acquisitions from 2016 and the 410 from 2015.  In the United States, the food industry completed deals worth a total of $42 billion throughout 2017, up from the $27.1 billion in deals from 2016.  Mergers and acquisitions have been taking place in all sectors of the food and beverage industry, with the largest being the sale of Whole Foods to Amazon for $13.7 billion.  Along with Amazon, other large companies have also been expanding into the food distribution industry, including Walmart and Target.  Other examples of recent mergers and acquisitions include the sale of Snyder’s Lance Inc. to Campbell Soup and the sale of Nestlé’s US confectionary business to Ferrero.

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Studying abroad is becoming increasingly more popular with students all over the world and in every field of study.  There are numerous benefits that a student can get from studying abroad including gaining knowledge of another culture, learning a new language, gain international job prospects, and meet new people.  However, international students also offer many benefits to the economies of the countries that host them.  

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One of the major trends in the fashion industry for 2018 will be the rise of vegan fashion, according to The Future 100 report from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence.  As social media use has risen throughout recent years, it has become easier for individuals to share opinions on various social and environmental issues with others all over the globe.  One issue that has attracted media attention is the treatment of animals in the fashion industry.  According to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, more than a billion animals are killed every year in the leather industry.  Also, many of the chemicals used in the tanning process have a harmful effect on the environment and on the workers that handle them.  As millennials gain buying power, it is important for companies to reflect the same values as their customers, and 66% of Millennials all over the world reported that they are willing to spend more on fashion brands that provide sustainable and eco-friendly products.

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Although overall retail spending has continued to grow, factors such as e-commerce and an abundance of shopping malls are changing the way people shop.  Today, e-commerce sales are steadily increasing, with Amazon sales rising from $16 billion to $80 billion between 2010 and 2016, and nearly half of all United States households are now Amazon Prime subscribers.  Also, according to Cowen and Company’s research analysts, between 1970 and 2015 the number of shopping malls in the United States grew more than twice as fast as the population.

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Every year, millions of people go shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving.  However, people are choosing to shop online on Cyber Monday rather than visit retail stores on Black Friday. Cyber Monday was one of the biggest shopping days in the United States.  This year, Americans spent $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday alone, according to data from Adobe Analytics.  This large amount of online orders so close to Christmas puts extra stress on retailers trying to avoid late deliveries and unfilled orders.  Normally during the holiday season, the number of late deliveries to households doubles, but this year, companies are having a particularly hard time delivering all of their orders on time.  

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According to The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, consumer confidence in the United States has increased three points, rising to 129.5 from 126.2 in October.  Consumer confidence has been steadily increasing over the past five months, and is now the highest American consumer confidence rate posted in the past 17 years.  Americans are becoming increasingly confident in their finances, and spending even more as we come into this year’s holiday season.  During the second quarter of 2017, consumer spending in the United States has increased by 3.3% to $11.8 trillion.  This rise in consumer spending is noteworthy, considering consumer spending makes up almost 70% of GDP.  Two-thirds of this spending is on services, almost one-fourth is on nondurable goods, while the rest is spent on durable goods.

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This is the fourth post in a five-part blog series focused on International Education Week. 

An international education has numerous benefits for students in grades kindergarten-12th grade (K-12).  When students travel between different countries they tend to be more comfortable with cross-cultural interactions, have the opportunity to learn multiple languages, and develop relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and in different places around the world.  All of these are extremely valuable skills to have in the workforce today, considering how connected the world is and how much business takes place between countries.  

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Virtual reality has been making great strides in the gaming industry, but also has many possible benefits within business.  Virtual reality is not yet widely accepted by the public, with devices such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive still not having as much success as was expected.  However, there has been an increasing interest in virtual reality technology by the public and by major companies as new uses for the technology are being discovered.  According to Reuters, there has been a 375% increase in companies that included virtual reality as part of their business plans from just last year; companies included are the New York Times, GoPro, and Wayfair.

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This is part three of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

The Industrial Revolution started in England in the 1700’s.  At this time, England was a colonial power, and used its colonies in the Americas and Asia to provide resources such as silk, tobacco, sugar, gold, and cotton, and provided its colonies with finished products such as textiles and metalware. As the population in Britain and its colonies increased, Britain had to find new ways to keep up with the demand for its products. The value for trade motivated Britain to produce more ships and goods, and Britain’s ports, population, and supply of water and coal made it the perfect place to industrialize.  At this time, Britain largely controlled international trade, and most global trade was conducted within Europe, but by the late 1790s 57 percent of British exports went to North America and the West Indies, and 32 percent of British imports were provided by these regions.

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The economics of the music industry have completely changed in recent years as sales of physical copies and online downloads have changed to online viewing websites and streaming subscriptions through companies such as Spotify and Pandora. The music industry is clearly rising, as in the first half of 2017, music industry revenues have reached four billion dollars, compared to the midway point in 2015 with revenue of three billion dollars.  Subscriptions to online streaming websites are accounting for an increasing percentage of total music industry proceeds. Returns from subscriptions to companies such as Spotify or Apple Music have increased by sixty-one percent from 2016, and American subscribers to streaming music sites now equal thirty million people.  

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This is part four of this week's five-part blog series on cash crops.

South America was colonized by the Spanish and the Portuguese.  These colonies were extremely profitable for Spain and Portugal because they could plant crops there that they could not plant in Europe.  This lead to the production of cash crops in South America, such as coffee and sugarcane, to be traded and sold in Europe.  These cash crops played a large role in establishing the colonies in South America, and still play an important role in their economy today.