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Saturday
Nov272010

Big Returns on Small Business Saturday?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Now that the dust from Black Friday has settled in shopping malls and megastores across the country, small businesses are hoping for big returns on the country's first ever Small Business Saturday.

Firmly planted between Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- when online retailers offer huge sales -- Small Business Saturday was designed to encourage shoppers across the U.S. to support local merchants in their holiday shopping as a means of driving up local economies.

Over a dozen advocacies along with public and private organizations have joined American Express, the event's primary sponsor, to raise awareness about the importance of small business to local communities.

To support the cause, American Express is offering its cardholders a $25 statement credit on purchases of at least $25 on Small Business Saturday at locally owned independent small businesses.

According to a 2004 study by the Economic Impact, for every $100 consumers spend at a local business, $68 remains in the local economy, whereas only $43 remains in the local economy when that $100 is spent at a chain store. Over the past two decades, small businesses created 65 percent of net new jobs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov272010

Black Friday Crowds Larger than Last Year's

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Major stores like Best Buy, Sears, Macy's and Toys R Us report bigger Black Friday crowds than last year. So do major mall operators. And in a sign that could be encouraging, retailers say they noticed shoppers not just buying for others, but treating themselves, as well.

There was a bit too much enthusiasm in some parts as malls opened early Friday. A New York man is recovering after shoppers trampled him when a Target store in Buffalo let customers in at 4 a.m. In Grand Chute, Wis., police were called when shoppers tried to plow into a Toys R Us with carts. 

The National Retail Federation has said up to 138 million people could hit stores during the post-Thanksgiving holiday weekend and has forecast a 2.3 percent increase in sales during November and December as retailers look for their best holiday season in three years.  Internet research firm Coremetrics reports a 16 percent increase in online sales during the the launch of the holiday shopping season.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov262010

Conn. AG Issues Warning on Kardashian-Backed Teen Credit Card

Kim Kardashian at the Kardashian MasterCard launch event in New York City. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HARTFORD, Conn.) -- If you want to keep up with the Kardashians, the family's new credit card that targets teens may not be the way to do it.

In a statement released Friday, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal warned consumers of the perils of credit cards marketed at young adults and disclosed that he has demanded that University National Bank, which issues the Kardashian Kard, provide specific details about how the card is promoted and sold in Connecticut.

He said that the card appears to invoke the E! reality stars’ extravagant and luxurious lifestyle, while specifically targeting young adults. The "gotcha fees" and other charges will cause consumers to lose money before they can even use it, he said.

University National Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Earlier this month, the Kardashian sisters -- Kim, 30, Khloe, 26, and Kourtney, 31, celebrated the launch of their Kardashian Prepaid MasterCard at New York City's Pacha nightclub.

Kim and her sisters teamed with MasterCard to create a prepaid credit card for teens as young as 16 years old. The card allows parents to put a predetermined amount of money on the card, then track their teens' spending habits via cell phone.

The Kardashian card isn't the first prepaid credit card targeted at teens. The Visa Buxx card, which also allows parents to put a fixed sum of money on an account, was launched last decade.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov262010

Portugal Adopts Draconian Budget Cuts, Tries to Avoid Bailout

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LISBON, Portugal) -- Portugal tried desperately Friday to avoid following Ireland in requiring a financial bailout, adopting a budget designed to slash its deepening deficit and prevent fiscal meltdown.  The Portuguese parliament adopted the 2011 plan lawmakers hope will reduce its deficit from 7.3 percent of this year's annual output to 4.6 percent next year. 

Portugal's Finance Minister, Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, told lawmakers the entire euro zone faces a big challenge.  "The attack of the markets on sovereign debt, in particular against so-called peripheral countries, is a test of the willpower and the capacity of the countries targeted, but above all the euro zone to face up to the crisis."

The budget would save five billion euros, or nearly $7 billion, through tax hikes and spending cuts.  Among the targeted spending, wages of public workers.  That prompted a massive general strike on Wednesday.

Portuguese officials and leaders from other countries deny there is specific pressure on Portugal to accept the same kind of "bailout" Ireland requested just days ago from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.  Experts suggest that if Portugal did ask for help, it would ease the financial pressure on other countries, such as Spain, and perhaps keep the euro zone debt crisis from spiralling further out of control.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov252010

What You Should Know About Holiday Credit Card Deals

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The biggest shopping day of the year is upon us and many consumers will be tempted to use credit cards that offer special holiday rewards.

Such targeted awards are being aggressively marketed this year, reports USA Today, offering big incentives for shoppers to use plastic over paper.

New Discover More card members, for example, can earn $100 for spending $500 in their first three months.  Chase Freedom offers the same incentive, only card holders must spend $800 to get the reward.

Although the payback is big, the interest rates are bigger and consumers who aren’t prepared to pay their balance off in full could let the temptation get them in trouble.

If balances are paid off, however, the big rewards may be worth it.  Some tips for smart swiping?

Make sure the reward will benefit your spending habits.  Don’t be lured in by a flashy incentive you won’t use.

Be aware of enrollment requirement as some card issuers bank on the fact that card holders will forget to enroll for lucrative “rotating” offers.

Finally, make sure the rewards fit your budget and you are not being required to spend more than you expected to during the holidays just to earn a bit extra.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov252010

Legislation to Ban Thanksgiving Day Shopping?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y.) -- Proposed legislation in New York state would stop large retailers from opening during one of the busiest shopping times of the year in an attempt to let employees enjoy the holidays.

A law to be proposed by Suffolk County, N.Y. executive Steve Levy would require large retail stores be closed from noon until 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day so employees can have at least part of the holiday off.

"Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday that is uniquely distinguished as a family day," Levy said.  "Certain stores do not recognize some employees' need to take time off from work, so this legislation is designed to help preserve an aspect of Thanksgiving that makes it such a special, bonding occasion."

The ban would include stores larger than 7,500 square feet.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov252010

US Corporate Profits Soar, But Unemployment Rate Refuses to Budge

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While Wall Street was celebrating good news about corporate profits this week, millions of Americans will sit down at Thanksgiving Dinner tables the same way they did last year -- without jobs.

Unemployment remains stuck at a stubborn nine percent, but corporate profits broke records in the third quarter of this year, surpassing $1.6 trillion.  That's the highest profit level ever, not adjusted for inflation.

With the whiff of mega-million dollar bonuses in the autumn air, some top executives are celebrating lavishly, just as they did before the recession.  Expensive restaurants are pulling in crowds again, and Sotheby's auction house says bids for its expensive paintings and wares are "pouring in."

Then there's Fred Clark, who was laid off from his job as a logistics manager for United Technologies a few days after Thanksgiving 2008.  He had worked at the company for 19 years.  Two years later, he's still unemployed.

"I hope to get a job" in 2011, Clark said.  "I have to believe that."

But for Clark and millions of other out-of-work Americans, it's hard to stay optimistic.  Though the government says the recession is officially over, long-term joblessness remains high and income disparity, what the richest Americans make compared to everyone else, is as great as it has ever been.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov242010

Thanksgiving Apps for a Tasty Turkey Day

Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you're planning to prepare a Thanksgiving feast this year, let your smart phone or iPad lend a hand.

Scores of low-cost or free applications provide tips for cooking the perfect turkey, finding the best recipes, shopping for in-season ingredients and more.

Some of the best Thanksgiving Apps, like Fine Cooking Holidays, offer easy-to-follow recipes with embedded videos. Others, like Food Network in the Kitchen, offer cooking tips from professionals.

Some Apps, like Epicurious, which offers more than 28,000 professionally tested recipes, are even free!

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov242010

CBO: Effects of Stimulus Spending Are 'Diminishing'

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – The major effects of the initial stimulus plan are wearing off, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and will “wane gradually” during the final months of 2010.
 
But as stimulus spending continues, the price tag could be higher than expected.

The CBO expects the original price tag of $787 billion to end up closer to $814 billion spent into the economy from 2009-2019.

Overall, however, the CBO concluded that the Recovery Act raised the GDP, lowered unemployment and increased the number of those who are employed.

In just the third quarter, July through September, the CBO said stimulus spending increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.6 million.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov242010

Black Friday: More Retail Workers Working on Thanksgiving Day

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For thousands of retail employees across the country, Thanksgiving morning won't be a time to put a turkey in the oven. Instead, they'll put on their uniforms and head to work.

Upending a time traditionally reserved for family and food, many stores across the country will be open for business on this Thanksgiving Day, trying to grab all-important Black Friday shoppers before Friday even begins. For the workers who staff those stores, it's definitely a mixed blessing.

While some stores, like Walmart, K-Mart, and grocers have been open on the holiday for years, an increasing number of retailers are jumping on the trend, believing there will be plenty of shoppers who put down their forks to hunt for bargains on Thursday.

For the first time in the company's history, Sears will welcome customers on Thanksgiving Day. Stores will be open from 7 a.m. to noon on the holiday.

At Toys-R-Us, employees will staff their stores to open late on Thanksgiving night, with all locations across the country opening at 10 p.m. for Black Friday sales. A spokesman said the company expects shoppers to line up outside hours in advance.

Then there's Gap Inc., which plans for nearly 90 percent of its Old Navy stores across the country to be open throughout Thanksgiving Day, as well as over 100 Gap stores and 40 Banana Republic locations. The company began opening stores on Thanksgiving three years ago and is expanding its plans this year in response to customer demand.

"I could see where maybe some people would think that it takes away from the sanctity of the tradition, but retailers wouldn't do this if it wasn't a hit for them, if it was something their shoppers didn't want," said Kathy Grannis of the National Retail Federation.

Working on Thanksgiving has long been a fact of life for many, from police officers to nurses to reporters. But while some of those occupations might help keep people alive on the holiday, few retail workers are thrilled when their bosses ask them to give up family dinner to fold sweaters.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio