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Tuesday
Feb012011

Limited-Assortment Grocery Stores Allow Consumers to Save Big

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The typical supermarket contains 50,000 different products.  Would you give up some of that selection for lower prices?

Millions of Americans are doing just that, at "limited assortment grocery stores."  The best-known are Save-A-Lot, Aldi and Grocery Outlet.  These stores are about half the size of a typical suburban supermarket.  They are stocked with 95 percent store brands and only carry about 80 percent of the selection traditional stores do.

Shoppers probably won't find olive tapenade, brie cheese or basmati rice at one of these smaller stores, but they can find big savings.

Save-A-Lot only carries name-brand products when it can score a deep discount on them and pass the savings along to its customers as a special deal.  Mostly you see shelves lined with unfamiliar store brands like Kurtz, Coburn and Portman's.

Other signs of a unique philosophy: a smaller meat department with fewer cuts, and products displayed on the palettes they came in.  Some products are offered in one type and one size, so the store is not using a lot of shelf space to stock dozens of brands.

Save-A-Lot claims to save its customers as much as 40 percent with this formula, and retail analysts back up that number.

The concept is working for the stores, too.  While traditional grocery sales are stagnant, revenue at limited assortment grocers Save-A-Lot, Aldi and Grocery Outlet is growing.  In fact, all three chains plan to expand dramatically in the next couple of years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb012011

As Economy Improves, More Employees Quitting Jobs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Employees are starting to say two words bosses haven't heard in years: "I quit!"

Numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in November, the last month for which data are available, more workers voluntarily left their jobs than were laid off.  Some 1.849 million people quit, compared to 1.657 million who were laid off.

What's more, this was the fourth consecutive month to see quitters come out on top.  The number quitting, says Bureau of Labor economist John Wohlford, is an indication of worker confidence. You don't leave a job, even a crummy one, unless you think you can find another.  And you don't leave a good job unless you think you can find a better one.

"It's an important number," says John Challenger, president of executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"When unemployment is high, employers are in the driver's seat.  Now job insecurity is dissipating; people are starting to vote with their feet," he said.  "This may signal there's some shift beginning to occur."

Challenger says the uptick in people quitting is good news for star performers, whom management will have to work harder to retain.

"You should be identifying your key players," he advised bosses.  "Companies still are very thinly staffed, so losing people can really leave gaps.  It's important for employers to get out in front of this issue."

Lauren Herring, president and CEO of Impact Group, a global career management firm, said employers are making a mistake if they think they can "bribe" employees into staying.  It's not that money is unimportant.  It's just that other considerations may matter more than compensation.

She cites as proof an employee survey done by Towers Watson that finds salary to be the fourth most important guarantee of worker retention.  Employees ascribed greater importance to such intangibles as having a boss who champions their career and opportunities for advancement.  They said their employer's reputation also matters highly to them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Commerce Dept.: US Consumer Spending Continues to Improve 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Official data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that consumer spending in the United States has grown at its fastest pace since 2007.  The Commerce Department reports that spending has grown 3.5 percent since 2009.

Economists say spending and savings growth should persist in 2011, provided that the job market continues to improve.

Copyright 2011 ABC News

Monday
Jan312011

Valentine's Day Spending Expected to Be Up in 2011, NRF Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After cutting back on spending in recent years, a recent survey released by the National Retail Federation called the 2011 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey predicts that the average person will spend $116.21 -- up 11 percent from last year's $103 -- on "traditional Valentine's Day merchandise" in 2011.  Total Valentine's Day spending is expected to reach $15.7 billion.

"Having surpassed expectations during the holiday season, it seems consumers are not done spending on gifts, which bodes well for the economy," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. 

Shay added that retailers should receive a "nice boost" in candy, jewelry and apparel sales during the typically slow months of January and February.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Jan312011

Google Exec Missing in Egypt

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (CAIRO) -- Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, Wael Ghonim, is reportedly missing after traveling to Cairo, Egypt in support of protesters.

Friends and relatives of Ghonim advised him not to participate in the protests, according to The Next Web, but Ghonim decided against them.

Now among the many missing protesters in Egypt, Ghonim was last heard from on Jan. 27, according to his Twitter profile.  He tweeted, "Pray for #Egypt.  Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people.  We are all ready to die."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

What Could You Do with the US Debt of $14 Trillion?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While the debate over whether to lift the federal government's $14.3-trillion debt limit roils in the nation's capital, the country's total public debt grows daily.

That much cash is hard to imagine, even if you're Donald Trump. So with the help of usdebtclock.org, let's first look at what that kind of money can buy, then we'll put the size of the debt in perspective.

1. 3,824,812,630 Super Bowl XLV tickets

If the average price of a ticket to this year's Super Bowl at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas is $3,676, according to Forbes, then the country's debt could buy out 3.8 billion Super Bowl tickets. That could cover attendance for the next 53,122 annual games, if average attendance at a Super Bowl game is 72,000 people. Or we could just invite half the entire population of world, including China and India.

2. $45,068.58 per person in the U.S.

The U.S. debt comes to over $45,000 per man, woman and child, given the current U.S. population of 311,969,269.

3. Almost the entire annual output of the U.S.

The U.S. GDP is $14,870.4 billion using current dollars, according to the Commerce Department on Friday. That means the debt is about 95 percent of GDP, the value of all economic activity here.

4. The U.S. defense budget for the next 20 years

The defense budget is $690.8 billion, which means the country's debt could cover this largest budget item for the next 20 years.

5. 58 million homes

Stephen Bronars, senior economist with Welch Consulting, said that at the median home price of $242,000, the deficit could buy over 58 million homes. That would surely boost the sagging housing market.

6. 400 of the country's largest companies

You could buy the country's 400 largest companies, according to their market capitalization, said Bronars. Or you could buy 35 of the equivalent of Exxon Mobil, the largest company in the country, with a market value of $399.52 billion. Or $14 trillion is the equivalent of 35 of Apple Inc., which has a market cap of $310.79 billion.

7. All the taxes collected, state and federal

With current annual U.S. tax collection of $2.16 trilliion and $1.17 trillion for the combined states, it would take more than four years to pay off the debt if every penny went toward that purpose.

How Bad Is the Debt?

Tom Digaloma, head of fixed income trading at Guggenheim Partners, said $14 trillion may sound astronomical, but it is not as worrisome as the deficits of other countries, such as Japan. Standard and Poor's just recently downgraded Japan's sovereign debt rating to AA- from AA, its first downgrade since 2002. By some measures, Japan's public debt is more than twice the size of its GDP, according to Debtclock.org.

Though Moody's Investor Service and the IMF warned the U.S. about its debt levels, Digaloma said it will not be long before the U.S. increases its GDP and boosts employment levels, easing the debt ratio.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Real Rival to Online Coupons Is Bulletin Board, Experts Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Despite all the hoopla about online ads and coupons, most of America still advertises in amazingly archaic ways: a sign in a shop window, a business card on a bulletin board, a flier under the windshield wiper.

It's not only cheap -- printed fliers and a few pushpins -- it's also effective. "I've never paid for advertising," says Jeanne Pinsof Nolan, owner of The Organic Gardener in Glencoe, Ill. Five years ago, she posted a flier on a grocery store bulletin board and now has some 150 clients. "My advertising is my flier," she says.

This tranquil corner of the advertising world is huge -- by one estimate 90 percent of ads are not digitized -- and increasingly under scrutiny by online ad companies. One reason national ad giant Google was willing to pay a whopping $6 billion for online coupon company Groupon was the latter's ability to bring local businesses onto the Internet.

Now, Google is reported to be testing its own local ad service, dubbed Google Offers. By bringing mom and pop stores online, Google, Groupon, and all the other group coupon sites hope to reap a bonanza.

"The percentage of local advertising that is not digital -- and that's most of it -- will change because the cost of advertising online is really low," says Frank Mulhern, associate dean of research at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill.

How quickly the online companies will succeed is another matter. Local online ad spending will grow nearly 18 percent this year, according to Borrell Associates Inc., a research and consulting firm in Williamsburg, Va. That's a little faster than the almost 14-percent rise forecast for total online ad spending. Online coupons are growing faster -- up 50 percent between 2009 and 2010 -- and worth more than $10 billion, Gordon Borrell says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Coca-Cola, Nestle Halt Work In Egypt Amidst Protests

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO, Egypt) – Two major companies have announced indefinite shutdowns of their overseas operations in Egypt, as the country’s citizens have been protesting their government for over a week.

Both Coca-Cola and Nestle have put a stop to their business and industrial operations in Egypt, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The report says that Coca-Cola closed its office in Cairo on Sunday.

“The safety of our employees is our primary concern and we are taking all necessary measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” said Kenth Kaerhoeg. He added that the company would not reopen the offices until the city became more stable.

Nestle, which operates three factories in Egypt with over 3,000 employees, has also halted its work in the country, according to the Journal. “The company is currently evacuating the families of around 20 expatriates,’’ Nina Backes, a company spokesperson told the newspaper.

The two companies followed the lead of many American citizens who began leaving the country on Monday. The U.S. Department of State issued an official order Sunday urging U.S. citizens to flee Egypt as soon as possible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

“Most Interesting Man” Campaign Helps to Land Facebook Milestone

Photo Courtesy - Nicholas Kamma/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) – One beer company has made it big time—on Facebook at least.

Dos Equis, the brand behind the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign, announced Monday that it has become the first beer brand globally to receive one million “likes” on Facebook.

“We are absolutely thrilled and honored,” said Paul Smailes, senior brand director for Dos Equis, Heineken USA. “Consumers continue to show their enthusiasm and passion for the brand unlike anything we could have imagined.”

The ad campaign features a bearded man played by Jonathan Goldsmith. He is featured, usually in a nightclub or restaurant, with the beer nearby. His trademark catchphrase has become, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

What has really launched the commercials are some of the hyperbolic phrases that the narrator of the commercials provides about the man, such as:

"He is the life of parties he never attended."

"People hang on his every word, even the prepositions."

"He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it felt."

The last phrase, in particular, led to a parody video made by NBA player Rudy Gay as he campaigns for votes into the league’s All-Star Game, which takes place on February 20. The video says Gay once “missed a dunk, just to see how it felt.”

The beer brand reports that fans have posted as many as 1,000 comments per day on its Facebook fan page, mostly in reference to the “Most Interesting Man In the World.”

“We are very thankful for the response from our loyal fans, and very impressed with their creativity. They have been great brand guardians and we hope to continue rewarding them with rich and interesting content in the future,” Smailes said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

White House Launches Program to Benefit Business Startups

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On Monday, the White House launched “Startup America,” a campaign to get entrepreneurs and small businesses to turn innovation into jobs.

The campaign aims to “knock down barriers” in the path of those wanting to start a business.

“Entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: the belief that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country,” President Obama said in a paper statement. “In fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs. “

“Startup America” is intended to run as an independent and private-sector led campaign to “mobilize private sector commitments.” Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and chairman of the Case Foundation, will chair the partnership, and Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation will be a founding board member.

“If you just go get the Fortune 500 list, it's quite clear that some of the biggest employers in the nation, some of the fastest-growing companies that employ tens or even hundreds of thousands of people, started in somebody's garage as just an idea that they had, and they went from there,” Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers said Monday. “Ultimately it's the creation of new ideas that keep America the premier economy in the world.”

The White House will hold a number of events this week specifically focused on innovation, including President Obama’s visit to an energy-efficient building lab in State College, Penn., on Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio