Pre-GST bonanza eats into July numbers as fashion sales drop 20 per cent

On Tuesday, Levi’s, Benetton, Gap, Aldo, Marks & Spencer, Pantaloons, and Lifestyle offered flat 50% discounts at the Mall of India in Noida.

NEW DELHI: Sales of fast-fashion and lifestyle brands in India dropped by about a fifth in July despite eye-popping discounts, with industry experts attributing the decline to shoppers having advanced their purchasing to June before the national rollout of the single producer levy. The Goods and Services Tax (GST), which kicked in from July 1, involves a tax incidence of 12% instead of 5%.

“The reason for the drop could be that the industry had advanced the sales (to June),” said Jacob John, deputy chief executive of Lifestyle department stores chain.

At his stores, July sales were only marginally lower at about 5%. “This year, Eid was in June. So, some amount of Eid business also shifted to June and it was a good June for us,” John added.

Even though taxes on branded garments costing more than Rs 1,000 were raised from 5% to 12% after the GST was introduced, retailers from Levi’s to Lifestyle say they still haven’t increased the prices and are currently absorbing the differences in taxes themselves rather than passing them on to the consumers.

Pre-GST bonanza eats into July numbers as fashion sales drop 20 per cent

“Even if the prices increase due to GST, they can happen only after two-three months. I cannot do it immediately,” said John of Lifestyle. “So far, there is no change in our pricing.”

 On Tuesday, Levi’s, Benetton, Gap, Aldo, Marks & Spencer, Pantaloons, and Lifestyle offered flat 50% discounts at the Mall of India in Noida. A host of other brands, including US Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Aeropostale, and Calvin Klein offered up to 50% discounts. An executive at a Zara store in the National Capital Region said the sale could continue until August depending on how long the stock lasts.

Extended run of discounts
India is witnessing one of the most-extended discounting seasons from fashion and lifestyle brands since November – first due to the demonetisation and now because of the GST. The introduction of the single levy has prompted retailers to advance their annual discounting season by a month to June.

“I haven’t seen so many discount sales since the 2008-09 Lehman Brothers crisis when retailers were left with excess inventory and the market was bad, sentiments were down and malls got deferred,” said the chief executive of a global lifestyle brand, requesting anonymity.

Retailers say that they had overcome the impact of demonetisation and were looking forward to better business this financial year. However, with e-commerce companies Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra continuing to offer discounts, brick-andmortar stores had to stay competitive and offer major cuts.

“Challenges were there — be they demonetisation or the GST — and if we don’t respond adequately, we’ll be in trouble,” said Vishnu Prasad, chief executive of the Future Group-owned Central malls. Central advanced its sales season by a week to June 19. Before that, it had promotional events over various weekends.

Advancing the ‘End of the Season’ sale has disturbed the annual business cycle, which involves new ranges hitting the shelves in August.

“This time, new stocks are not coming because of the GST,” said the CEO of the global brand quoted above. That means the discount season will continue in July and may even spill over into August.

Vishnu Prasad said Central has a “tentative plan” of ending the sale by July 31. “It depends on how the rest of the days in July shape up,” Prasad said.

More Android apps from dangerous Ztorg family sneak into Google Play


For the second time this month, Google has removed Android apps from its Google Play marketplace. Google did so after a security researcher found the apps contained code that laid the groundwork for attackers to take administrative “root” control of infected devices.

“Magic Browser,” as one app was called, was uploaded to Google’s official Android App bazaar on May 15 and gained more than 50,000 downloads by the time it was removed, Kaspersky Lab Senior Research Analyst Roman Unuchek said in a blog post published Tuesday. Magic Browser was disguised as a knock-off to the Chrome browser. The other app, “Noise Detector,” purported to measure the decibel level of sounds, and it had been downloaded more than 10,000 times. Both apps belong to a family of Android malware known as Ztorg, which has managed to sneak past Google’s automated malware checks almost 100 times since last September.

Most Ztorg apps are notable for their ability to use well-known exploits to root infected phones. This status allows the apps to have finer-grain control and makes them harder to be removed. Ztorg apps are also concerning for their large number of downloads. A Ztorg app known as Privacy Lock, for instance, received one million installations before Google removed it last month, while an infected Pokémon Go guide racked up 500,000 downloads before its removal in September.

Earlier this month, Google removed a game called colourblock after Kaspersky Lab’s Unuchek found it contained code dubbed DVmap that attempted to gain root. To evade detection by Google, DVmap developers initially uploaded a clean version of the game to Play and later updated it to add malicious functions. Unuchek has warned that the rooting processes used by malicious rooting apps can often harm the phones because the apps can overwrite crucial files and folders.

Magic Browser and Noise Detector didn’t actually root the phones, but the Ztorg digital fingerprints in both apps led Unuchek to theorize that the app developers were in the process of adding the capability to one or both of the apps gradually in an attempt to evade detection. In the meantime, the researcher said, the developers were using Magic Browser to either test or actively use malicious text-messaging functions. The app had the ability to send premium text messages to attacker-controlled numbers. To keep users in the dark, the app could also delete incoming texts and turn off the device sound.

“So I think that the authors are still testing this malware, because they use some techniques which can break the infected devices,” Unuchek wrote. “But they already have a lot of infected users on whom to test their methods. I hope that by uncovering this malware at such an early stage, we will be able to prevent a massive and dangerous attack when the attackers are ready to actively use their methods.”

BlackBerry’s Privacy Shade App Prevents Bystanders From Peeking Into Your Phone


Privacy Shade app is only available for BlackBerry users
It helps in avoiding others from snooping into your phone
The app darkens entire screen except for a small view area
While laptop makers have introduced several workarounds to avoid nosy eyes from peeking from behind, smartphones haven’t really been able to address that pain point. Users, especially with large smartphone screens, have always found people (particularly the nosy ones) leaning over to read that personal text or see what you’re browsing. BlackBerry is trying to address this woe by launching an app called Privacy Shade.BlackBerry's Privacy Shade App Prevents Bystanders From Peeking Into Your Phone

The Android app makes the entire screen dark, except for a small view area that can be moved around to what you really want to read on the screen. The viewing area can change shapes from a bar to a circle, depending on what you prefer. Furthermore, the transparency of the darkened screen can also be manually adjusted, so for those who are extra paranoid, they could maximise the shade to near opaque for optimal privacy.
It is worth noting that this app is only available only to BlackBerry devices, so not all users will be able to take advantage of the nifty app. You can check if you own a compatible Blackberry device by trying to download it from the Google Play Store, or you can also sideload it from APK Mirror. Downloading from APK Mirror doesn’t lift the restriction limit of BlackBerry devices, Android Police reports.

BB Merah Putih, the company that currently holds the right to manufacture and sell BlackBerry smartphones in Indonesia, recently launched the BlackBerry Aurora smartphone for the country. The dual-SIM (Micro-SIM) based BlackBerry Aurora runs Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box and sports a 5.5-inch (720×1280 pixels) display. It is priced at IDR 3,499,000 (roughly Rs. 17,400) in Indonesia.

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Tags: Privacy Shade App, Blackberry, Apps, Android, Privacy Shade


Galaxy Note 8 Forces Samsung Into A Dangerous Choice

If there’s one unique issue that Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note 8 will have to contend with, it’s the association with an exploding battery. The Galaxy Note 7 was launched to critical acclaim before manufacturing defects on top of poorly handled global recall saw the South Korean company withdraw the product from sale.

Between them, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus had to do a lot of the hard work to make good the damage to the brand name, and have cleared the path to allow the Note 8 to stand apart from any association and return Samsung to the world of high-end phablets.

So why is Samsung risking this by re-releasing the Note 7 and reminding the world of last year’s folly?

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (Image: Samsung Press)

Samsung Press

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (Image: Samsung Press)

Let’s be clear, after an extensive investigation that Samsung has made public, the Note 7 that is now on sale does not have the same fundamental flaw that damaged the original Note 7 release. When the handset goes back on sale this Friday (July 7 2017) it’s going to get a slight tweak to brand it as the ‘Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Fan Edition’ and it would not surprise me if Samsung’s marketing minimises the impact of the ‘7’ and go with ‘Galaxy Note Fan Edition’ as the long form name, and Note FE as the shorter hashtag-able moniker.

The handsets themselves will have a battery with a lower capacity of 3200 mAh. That’s 300 mAh less than the original Note 7 and, in a move that feels like a rationalisation of the supply, is the same capacity as the upcoming Galaxy Note 8. Otherwise the Note FE will be similar to last year’s release with a 5.7 inch screen, 12-megapixel camera, and the same critically acclaimed mix of hardware and software.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (Image: Samsung Press)

Samsung PR

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (Image: Samsung Press)

Thanks to its recall, Samsung has significant stock levels of the Note 7. With the fault located inside the battery, as opposed to something more fundamental in the design, it is possible to recondition these units and put them back out on sale. There’s a lot of capital investment sitting around the warehouses, putting the Note 7 back on sale allows some of that to be reclaimed.

Assuming that the price of the Note 8 is going to top one thousand dollars SIM-free, there’s an argument that having a second tier product at around $600 will increase the market share for the Note range as the increased interest around the Note 8 launch will drag the Note FE into the sales charts.

If Samsung believes that the fate of the Note 7 is consigned to history then there’s no reason not to bring the product back to market. I just wonder if this a risk worth taking ahead of one of the two key launches of Samsung’s yearly roadmap?

Now read why the Note 8 has an awkwardly placed fingerprint reader…

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