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Updated: 4 years 6 months ago

The American Consumer’s Favorite Thanksgiving Tradition? Complaining

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 4:45am
Amid much grumbling about consumerism and chaos taking over the once sacred Thanksgiving holiday, various voices are calling for an end to Thanksgiving store hours, Black Friday, Cyber Monday — and even Thanksgiving itself. Among the holiday traditions that some would like to see disappear, or at least moved: Thanksgiving Day Shopping. This year’s expansion of stores open on Thanksgiving Day has been met, predictably, by an increase in grumbling about stores open on Thanksgiving Day. Yet despite the protests calling for the return of Thanksgiving as a work-free, shopping-free day reserved for families, despite polls indicating that the vast majority of Americans think stores should be closed on the holiday, and despite even the fact that only a small minority of American consumers will physically go shopping on Thanksgiving itself, there appears to be no end in sight to “retailer creep” into Thanksgiving dinner. Why do so many retailers insist on pulling employees away from their families in order for stores to open on the holiday? A Detroit News story explains: The answer is the same you’ll hear from the throng of shoppers surging through the doors for those blockbuster holiday deals: fear of missing out. No matter if Thanksgiving shopping makes sense or not, the competitors involved — shoppers and retailers alike — feel compelled to participate if others are in the game. Black Friday. Partially because of Thanksgiving store hours, as well as seasonal sales and promotions launched months earlier, some retail experts have predicted that Black Friday is heading toward extinction, or at least facing decreased relevancy in terms of overall holiday sales. (MORE: The Essential Shopping Guide for the Epic Thanksgiving–Black Friday Weekend) The total spent by in-store shoppers last Black Friday fell compared with Black Friday of 2011, and polls indicate that fewer and fewer consumers will bother shopping in brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday going forward. According to a Nielsen survey, 85% of American consumers would not hit the stores on Black Friday 2013, compared with 80% who wouldn’t participate in 2010. The
Categories: Financial News

Microsoft’s New Xbox One Ad Criticized as Sexist

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 5:25pm
In the wake of mass praise for GoldieBlox’s new ad that empowers young girls to play games that make them engineering savvy, Microsoft is getting a lot of internet flack for a promotion that some think offensively falls back on gender stereotypes by suggesting that ladies hate videogame systems and their bro boyfriends have to beg to get one in the house. Microsoft released a customizable form Wednesday which people can use to reach out to their significant others — with an “explanation (and a little sucking up)” — so that they can justify procuring the company’s new Xbox One console. One version of the letter reads, “You’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies, but hear me out on this. Xbox One is actually for both of us. Seriously.” Seriously. Because women and their knitting, right guys? The criticism poured in: Dear xBox writer, if you're going to be sexist, at least be funny: "You’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies" —…— Evelyn Rusli (@EvelynRusli) November 27, 2013 Of course @Xbox is being sexist and mysyoginistic in erasing women gamers—   (@nealcarter) November 27, 2013 You can tell they worked *REALLY* hard to make this usable for both sexes. And in doing so revealed how sexist it is.…— Stephen Toulouse (@Stepto) November 27, 2013 Other jokes were less blatantly sexist but still played in on deeply rooted stereotypes that women will never understand videogames. For example, “Maybe you don’t LOVE games like I do, but there’s really something for everyone … You love movies and I love football. Well, with the Xbox One, we can love both … We can talk on Skype with your favorite sister whom, of course, I love dearly.” Microsoft has since apologized and nixed the knitting line. “The letter is fully customizable and we meant no offense, but understand how the defaults could be perceived,” a company spokesperson said. “We’re making changes to the letter defaults and apologize for the oversight.” Now bros begging their girlfriends for the device can tout
Categories: Financial News

Stocks Close at Record High Again

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 3:34pm
U.S. stocks made gains on Wednesday thanks to a positive read on consumer confidence. The Dow Jones had another record close (following yesterday’s record), finishing the day up 0.2 percent at 16,097.33. The S&P 500 also posted a new record close, rising 0.3 percent to close at 1,807.33. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan gauge on consumer sentiment came in at 75.1 in November, topping estimates for a rise to 73.5, according to CNBC. Consumers are jolly and ready to head to the stores on Black Friday. [CNBC]
Categories: Financial News

Pizza Hut Manager Says He Was Fired for Refusing To Open on Thanksgiving

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 2:52pm
An Indiana man says he was fired from his job as general manager of a Pizza Hut restaurant for refusing to stay open on Thanksgiving, CNBC reports. Ton Rohr, who oversees the Pizza Hut in Elkhart, Ind., said he was unexpectedly ordered to stay open, and was fired when he refused. Pizza Hut did not respond to requests for comment from CNBC. “They just said it was a competitive decision and that everyone was open, so we will be too,” Rohr said. “I said, ‘Why can’t we be the company that stands up and says we care about our employees, and let them have the day off?’ “ [CNBC]
Categories: Financial News

Below-Cost Black Friday Sales Now Legal in Oklahoma

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 1:22pm
(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Oklahoma residents for the first time in 70 years will be able to legally enjoy the true meaning of Black Friday and its mega-deals after legislators repealed parts of a law that prohibited retailers from selling items below cost. Low-price retail events, in which retailers price items at a steep discount to attract shoppers, were technically illegal in Oklahoma. That’s because of a 1941 law called the Unfair Sales Act required retailers to sell products for at least 6 percent more than they paid for it. It was originally put in place at the request of grocers who had grown weary of price wars. The Oklahoma Legislature repealed parts of the law this year that apply to general merchandise, but it still applies to drugs, gas and groceries.
Categories: Financial News

Burberry’s Signature Design Copyright Revoked In China

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 9:58am
China’s national trademark office revoked Burberry’s copyright on its iconic tan, black and red tartan last week after a long battle with a Chinese company that makes similar products. The pattern, known as “Haymarket Check,” makes Burberry products distinctive in China, and helps keep the brand competitive against other luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Quartz reports. The recent decision means that anybody, including rival company Polo Santa Roberta, can make products with that pattern. The Trademark Office said that the copyright expired because Burberry had not used the pattern in China for over three years, and a lawyer for Polo Santa Roberta said that the company was monopolizing a part of Scottish culture by trademarking the tartan. The Scottish Register of Tartans, however, refers to that particular design as “Burberry.” [Quartz]
Categories: Financial News

Bitcoin Surpasses $1,000 in Astonishing Streak

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 9:36am
Bitcoin, the virtual currency that has gone on a recent surge, surpassed $1,000 for the first time on Wednesday, up 78-fold in 2013. Bitcoin was trading at $1,030 at 10:10 a.m on the MT.Gox exchange, one of several online markets for the currency, up from around $9 in 2011 and a high of $269 just weeks ago. The currency, introduced in 2009, was initially used sparingly and often in illicit activity thanks to its relative anonymity. But it has seen a recent swell in popularity in the U.S. and, particularly recently, in China, as legitimate businesses, including websites like OKCupid and a Subway sandwich shop in Pennsylvania, begin to accept it. The price rise also coincided with Senate hearings last week on how to regulate the currency. [CNNMoney]
Categories: Financial News

Your Favorite Toys From The 90s Get An Upgrade This Holiday Season

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 8:12am
Toy makers just want to bring joy to your holiday season. And take a wad of your holiday dollars, in exchange. Some of them think the key to both lies in classic toys of Millennial youth.
Categories: Financial News

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop to 316,000, as Layoffs Slow

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 7:46am
(WASHINGTON) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 316,000, a sign that workers are in less danger of being laid off. The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average fell 7,500 to 331,750. Both the weekly jobless claims and the average have returned to pre-recession levels. Weekly unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen in six of the past seven weeks. As layoffs have dwindled, hiring has picked up. Employers added 204,000 jobs last month, indicating that companies were undeterred by the 16-day government shutdown. Private businesses added 212,000 new positions, the most since February. The economy has added an average of 202,000 jobs a month from August through October, up from 146,000 in May through July.
Categories: Financial News

U.S. Durable-Goods Orders Fall 2 Percent in October

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 7:45am
(WASHINGTON) — Orders for U.S. long-lasting factory goods fell last month as businesses spent less on machinery, computers and most other items. The decline suggests companies may have been reluctant to invest during the 16-day partial government shutdown The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods dropped 2 percent in October. That follows a 4.1 percent increase in September. Durable goods are meant to last at least three years. Demand for commercial aircraft plunged nearly 16 percent last month, accounting for much of the decline. But orders also fell 1.2 percent in a closely watched category that excludes volatile transportation and defense orders. That was the second straight decline. The report conflicts with a private sector survey, which showed companies shrugged off the shutdown and boosted orders.
Categories: Financial News

The Big Business of Thanksgiving Day Parades

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 4:45am
Thanksgiving weekend is a banner one for American retailers, but there’s another American business that thrives at this time of year: parades. Each year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade draws more than 3.5 million spectators to New York City, while another 50 million watch on TV. That’s right, far more Americans tune in to the Thanksgiving Day processional than the Oscars. And it’s not just Macy’s. Across the country, from Plymouth, Mass., to Seattle, folks will crowd street corners and tune in on television to watch marching bands, helium-filled balloons and papier-mâché floats pass by. In this age of smartphones and social media, viewers are still transfixed by this century-old tradition, and still have a hankering for hometown fanfare sponsored by local businesses. Take Detroit. Though the city is still reeling from its recent bankruptcy filing, it’s expecting roughly 1 million people to line Woodward Avenue in the city’s downtown section for America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van Furniture. Michiganders and TV watchers across the country will also be tuning in — last year the event was watched by 21% of viewers in Detroit’s local TV market, and the parade was syndicated in 140 cities across America. According to Tony Michaels, CEO of the Parade Company, the nonprofit group that operates Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade and several other civic events, parades like Detroit’s maintain their popularity because of the quickly changing landscape of American entertainment rather than in spite of it. “The buzz over this year’s parade is at the highest level it’s ever been,” says Michaels. “That’s because traditions like these are even more valuable to people today. In a fast-paced world, we’re down-home cool.” Cool or not, the parades would never happen without the many businesses, large and small, that are willing to sponsor them. Putting on a parade of such magnitude is no cheap task. The Parade Company has 14 full-time employees, including an art director responsible for overseeing the construction of floats in its 200,000-sq.-ft. (18,580 sq m) studio and sponsorship-fulfillment representatives who work with companies putting up
Categories: Financial News

Derrick Rose Is Injured, and so Is Adidas

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 4:45am
As Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose limped off the court on Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers, Adidas was feeling the pain too. The sports-apparel company has pledged $185 million to Rose over 13 years in an ambitious effort to attack Nike head-on in the $3.7 billion basketball-shoe market. But now Rose is out for the season with a knee injury, again, and Adidas may have a tough time maintaining excitement around the star’s brand in his absence. When Rose (hopefully) suits up again in November 2014, he will have missed nearly 200 games in three seasons. That’s an enormous drop in court time for an athlete whose career possibilities seemed limitless when he became the youngest player ever to win the league’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. “They’re not going to have the on-court exposure of him playing every night,” says Matt Powell, an analyst at sports-research firm SportsOneSource. “If he sits out a whole year, that’s a long time to lose that exposure.” Though Rose has played sparingly since his MVP season, his brand power has remained strong. His line of shoes, currently headlined by the Rose 4, is one of the most successful in the NBA, generating $40 million in sales in 2012, according to SportsOneSource. He hasn’t reached the sales level of Kobe Bryant ($50 million in 2012 sales) or LeBron James ($300 million), and he’s certainly nowhere near the numbers the Jordan empire puts up ($2 billion), but his sales now eclipse those of other young stars like Kevin Durant. Rose also had the second-best-selling jersey globally during the 2012–13 season, though he didn’t play in a single game. (MORE: Why You Should Be Depressed About Derrick Rose) “You have this new phenom, this new person that the public liked and respected because of his dedication to the game,” says Sonny Vaccaro, a longtime marketing executive for Nike and Adidas, who originally signed Michael Jordan to Nike. “If he doesn’t get hurt, Derrick Rose is on his way to becoming one of the greatest
Categories: Financial News

Epic Thanksgiving-Black Friday Shopping Weekend: The Essential Guide

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 4:45am
Where are the best deals to be found? What’s necessary to snag the hottest doorbusters and freebies? Which deals are truly deals, and which are just hype? Read on to find out where, when, and how to go shopping over the mammoth Thanksgiving-Black Friday-Cyber Monday period, if at all. Many stores are open Thanksgiving Day. Despite an onslaught of complaints about stores opening on Thanksgiving, many retailers will launch their “Black Friday” sales and open their doors to the masses on Thursday. A few will open early in the day on Thanksgiving—Kmart’s open at 6 a.m., Old Navy’s open at 9 a.m.—while the majority of national retailers are opting for evening sales launches. Toys R Us is going with a 5 p.m. opening, Walmart, Best Buy, Sports Authority, and many outlet malls kick off sales at 6 p.m., and a wide range of retailers, including J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears, and Target, open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving Day shopping isn’t available everywhere. As the Providence Journal reported, laws in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine ban most stores from opening on Thanksgiving (Christmas too). So the Black Friday sales in these states will actually start on Black Friday—typically as soon as it’s officially Friday, with national retailers shooting for midnight or 1 a.m. openings. Some retailers refuse to open on Thanksgiving. Perhaps out of principle, perhaps to reward (or not annoy) employees, perhaps because it provides some good PR, perhaps because doing otherwise would yield insignificant profits, a handful of national retailers have made a point out of the fact that they will most certainly not be open on Thanksgiving. The list of stores refusing to put “sales on Thanksgiving above family time,” in the words of one anti-holiday hours retailer, includes Costco, B.J.’s Nordstrom, P.C. Richard & Sons, Home Depot, T.J. Maxx, and Dillard’s. (MORE: The Big Lie About Shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday) The best deals aren’t available all at once. For the most part, retailers are staggering the timing of when the best offers
Categories: Financial News

Thanksgiving Shopping: Can It Turn Retail Revenues from Bleak to Black?

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 4:45am
Thanksgiving has traditionally been a day for family, turkey and football, but increasingly retailers are viewing the holiday as a chance to kick the Christmas shopping season into high gear. This year, stores including Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Toys “R” Us, will open their doors just after the sun goes down on Thanksgiving, betting that consumers will be done with dinner and ready to cross some gifts off their shopping lists. Meanwhile, Nordstrom, Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club and others have put out statements saying they will remain closed, as they always have, out of respect for the holiday and for employees who want to spend it with their families. But is either camp really coming out ahead? It’s a wash, Wharton experts say, while predicting that as an increasing number of retailers decides to add Thanksgiving hours, it is only a matter of time before almost everyone joins in. “[Opening earlier and earlier] is not going to lead to more retail sales, and there is not much of a competitive advantage,” notes Wharton marketing professor Stephen Hoch. “At the same time, there is no benefit to not opening on Thursday; the higher moral ground really doesn’t matter.” The trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving is relatively new. It began with brick and mortar retailers deciding to open early — 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. — on Black Friday. Then, in 2010, stores like Toys “R” Us and Walmart started opening at midnight on Black Friday. Over the past three years, that 12 a.m. start has been pushed back hour by hour, with the average opening time now coming in at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving. However, just 14% of consumers surveyed in the National Retail Federation’s holiday spending survey said they plan to shop — online or in stores — on Thanksgiving (and some could start browsing in person as early as 6 a.m. that day, thanks to Kmart), compared with 42% who said they will shop on Black Friday. Another 38% planned to forgo all holiday shopping during
Categories: Financial News

Talks on Global Free-Trade Deal Collapse in Geneva

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 11:44pm
(GENEVA) — Negotiators came close but failed Tuesday to clinch a free-trade deal that could have helped boost the world economy by $1 trillion a year and cleared the way for a broader global agreement. Diplomats from the World Trade Organization’s 159 members had been trying to forge an agreement before a trade ministers’ meeting next week in Bali, Indonesia. Achieving a deal in Bali is seen as a final effort to revive a broader 12-year effort to ease global trade rules. The mini-deal discussed in Geneva had been intended, in part, to reduce delays and inefficiencies at national borders. Making it easier to move goods across borders could boost the global economy by nearly $1 trillion a year and support 21 million jobs, according to a report co-written by Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow in international trade at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The lack of a global deal hasn’t prevented individual countries from seeking agreements among themselves. But experts say the failure to reach a global deal leaves poorer countries worse off. “This should be a no-brainer for developed and developing countries,” Schott said. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke expressed “a great deal of sadness” over the failure in Geneva. “We’re worried — alongside so many in this room — that a once-in-a-generation opportunity may have slipped our grasp,” Punke said. Schott said he’s hopeful that negotiators will salvage the deal in Bali and restore the efforts to achieve a broader trade agreement. “If this small test can’t be passed, there’s very little reason for confidence” negotiators will ever reach the broader agreement, Schott said. Some poor countries are demanding economic and technical assistance before they sign on. India is holding up a deal by insisting on protections for its farmers. The WTO chief, Roberto Azevedo, said so much disagreement remains that several more weeks of negotiations cannot bridge the gaps. “Holding negotiations in the short time we’ll have in Bali would be simply impractical with over 100 ministers around the table,” Azevedo said. Negotiations toward
Categories: Financial News

Stock Market Scores Another Record Finish

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 3:54pm
As the Thanksgiving break approaches, U.S. stocks rose Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting another record finish thanks to better-than expected housing reports. The housing numbers today were positive indicators for construction employment and home sales in 2014, according to experts interviewed by CNBC. The Dow beat its record close yesterday, led by Walt Disney. And one day after clearing 4,000 for the first time since the year 2000, the Nasdaq continued to climb, riding 23.18 points to 4,017.75, despite the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index coming in at 70.4 in November (below a 72.9 expectation). [CNBC]
Categories: Financial News

Oilfield Company Pays $253M To Settle Bribery Case

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 12:22pm
(WASHINGTON) — The oilfield services company Weatherford International has agreed to pay $253 million to settle federal charges that it bribed officials in the Middle East and Africa to win business. The Securities and Exchange Commission had charged the company with violating U.S. law by offering foreign officials bribes, improper travel and entertainment to win contracts under the United Nations’ Oil-for-Food program. Regulators say Weatherford falsified its records to hide these payments as well as other transactions in Cuba, Iran, Syria and other countries subject to U.S. sanctions. The Swiss-based company says it agreed to pay $253 million to settle the charges and other claims against it by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce and other federal agencies. Weatherford has operations in Houston. The settlement is subject to judicial approval.
Categories: Financial News

Suit Saga: Men’s Wearhouse Turns Back Jos. A. Bank Offer With One Of Its Own

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 10:17am
This is one two-for-one deal neither men’s retail store enjoys. Men’s Wearhouse made a surprising counter-bid Tuesday to buy Jos. A. Bank for $55 a share, just a month after it rejected a purchase offer from its rival. After evaluating various options, Men’s Wearhouse said the $1.2 million retaliatory bid to acquire Jos. A. Bank made the most sense, CNN reports. Jos. A. Bank officials were not immediately available for comment. Jos. A. Bank shares rose on news of the offer, and Men’s Wearhouse stock was also up. [CNN]
Categories: Financial News

Home Prices Rise, Though Not as Fast as Before

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 9:32am
Data from two national sources confirmed that housing prices continued to rise in September, posting a solid past 12 months, although price acceleration appears to be slowing. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index was up 0.7% in September over August, and 13.3% year-over-year. The Federal Housing Finance Agency Home Price Index, which is usually a more moderate number since it includes conventional mortgage sales only — the middle tier of housing sales — was up 0.3% from August and 8.8% year-over-year. The rate of price appreciation slowed in 19 of 20 cities covered by the Case-Shiller index, with Miami as the outlier. The South Florida metro showed consistent price increases, up 0.8% for September and 0.8% for August. Market observers wondering about the price deceleration need look no further than interest rates. According to FHFA, the contract rate for loans closed in October was 4.32%, up sharply from 3.55% in June. It appears that another month of interest rate increases may be in that data pipeline — a reflection of the financial markets’ anxiety about the government shutdown in October — and so it appears likely that reported home prices will continue to cool next month. However, the data is coming off a good strong run. Nationally, home prices as measured by Case-Shiller are back to their mid-2004 levels, and now only 20% off their bubble peak of the summer of 2006. Inhabitants of many locales are feeling tighter housing price markets than that, and the data show wildfire in the West, with Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco up more than 20% year-over-year. Las Vegas, leading the pack, is up a dizzying 29.1% for the 12 months. Other cities experiencing double-digit price jumps include Atlanta (up 18.7%), Detroit (up 17.2%), Minneapolis (up 10.1%), and Tampa (up 14.5%). Tight inventory conditions, investment purchases, and stronger, though still middling, employment appear to factors behind the longer-term price strength. Separately, the pool of foreclosure inventory appears to be shrinking. A report from Lender Processing Services, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based mortgage analytics firm,
Categories: Financial News

U.S. Banks Earn $36 Billion in Third Quarter

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 9:17am
(WASHINGTON) — U.S. banks earned less in the July-September quarter than they did a year earlier, marking the first year-over-year decline in earnings since the spring of 2009 when the country was still mired in the Great Recession. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says the banking industry earned $36 billion in the third quarter, down $1.5 billion or 3.9 percent from the third quarter of 2012. The FDIC says the year-over-year earnings decline came primarily from a $4 billion increase in litigation expenses at a single institution. The FDIC did not name the institution. Lower revenue from reduced mortgage activity and lower gains from asset sales also contributed to the reduction in earnings. Half of the nation’s 6,891 insured banking institutions had year-over-year growth in earnings while half reported declines.
Categories: Financial News