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Entries in Christmas (42)

Wednesday
Dec262012

Netflix Users Hit with Streaming Outage on Christmas Eve

Netflix(NEW YORK) -- Several Netflix users who were looking to stream their favorite holiday movies online on Christmas Eve were out of luck.

The company experienced a blackout that knocked out its streaming video service to many of its customers.

In a tweet Monday, Netflix said: "We're sorry for the Christmas Eve outage. Terrible timing! Engineers are working on it now. Stay tuned to @Netflixhelps for updates."

The outage lasted over 10 hours and wasn't fully resovlved until Christmas Day.

"Special thanks to our awesome members for being patient. We're back to normal streaming levels. We hope everyone has a great holiday," Netflix tweeted on Tuesday.

The company blamed Amazon, its Web service provider, for the issue.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec242012

Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Tips: What’s Open, What’s Available

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’ve waited until Monday -- Christmas Eve -- to do your Christmas shopping, all is not lost.  There are some stores that will be open well into the evening, and even others that will be open on Christmas Day.

It's important to note, however, that local ordinances may prevent some stores from being open according to the corporate-posted hours, so call before you head out the door to confirm a store is open.

Here are some big retailers that are open Christmas Eve:

  • Target until 9 p.m.
  • Kmart until 10 p.m.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us until 10 p.m.
  • Macy’s until 6 p.m.
  • Walmart until 6 or 8 p.m. (varies by store)

And while malls may not extend hours later on Christmas Eve, many are opening early on Monday to accommodate people who want to shop before work.

If you plan to shop tomorrow -- on Christmas Day -- it’ll be tougher, but it can be done if you’re creative.  Here are some places to try:

Airport Gift Shop

If you’re flying to your Christmas get-together, try the airport gift shop.  They often have lots of gifts, including books and fragrances.  Also, many airports now have electronics vending machines from the likes of Best Buy and other vendors.  You put in your credit card and you can buy anything from headphones to an iPod to a handheld gaming device.

Convenience Store

Many 7-11 and Cumberland Farms convenience stores will be open along with individual independents or smaller chains (this will vary depending on your location and the franchisee -- but many will be open).  They may not be your first choice for gifts, but they offer more than you might expect.

Starbucks


If your loved one loves coffee, you’re in luck.  Many Starbucks will be open on Christmas.  Buy a gift card, mugs, some coffee beans and a CD, and you’ve got a great package.

Trip to the Movies

Movie theaters are open on Christmas Day; in fact many say it’s one of their busiest days of the year.  So swing by to purchase a gift card for the movies and make a fun gift box with some Twizzlers and some popcorn.  It’s a gift a movie buff will truly appreciate.

Pharmacies

Many CVS and Walgreens pharmacies will be open.  A Walgreens spokesperson told ABC News: “On Christmas Day, non-24 hour stores will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.  Pharmacies open in 24-hour stores and select locations; 24-hour stores always open.”

While many CVS stores will be open, you definitely need to call to check.  Their spokesperson told ABC News: “Many stores across the country will be offering extended store hours for the holidays, or are open 24 hours.  To locate a nearby CVS/pharmacy or for specific questions about store hours near you, visit the CVS.com Store Locator (CVS.com/storefinder) for the phone number of your local store.”

These pharmacies are great for last-minute gifts.  From toys to home and beauty products, books, Crock Pots and As Seen on TV items, they offer a broad selection of gifts.  Also many have photo centers where you can print photos directly from your phone or Facebook page.  Buy a frame in-store and some wrapping paper and you look like you’ve been planning a thoughtful gift all year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec242012

Package Theft Rising as More Order Online

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wondering why that gift you ordered online a week ago hasn't arrived yet?

Well, it may not be the retailer's fault or the result of slow shipping.  What's been occurring more often are thieves swiping packages from doorsteps.

Package thefts are being reported all around the nation, and while it's not quite reached the epidemic stage, it's still upsetting to those who have spent good money to make the holidays a little brighter for loved ones -- or themselves for that matter.

Some victims know they have been ripped off when they see a notification from the shipper that a package has been left, minus the box.  But that's not always the case, and with Christmas on Tuesday, there's little that can be done now to replace what's been swiped.

Often, people don't notify the police when they've been robbed of packages so there's no way to know the precise extent of the problem.

While it's probably too late to do anything about it this year, it's recommended that packages be sent to places of work or a residence where they know someone is home.  Signing up for delivery confirmation is another option.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Deals

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you’ve left your Christmas shopping until the last minute, you may not find a mall parking spot this weekend, but you will find some great deals.

Retailers are ready to slash prices, with across-the-board discounts on clothing, toys and appliances. They have also extended hours to make sure procrastinators get all their shopping done in time for Christmas Day.

Here are some of the deals:

Clothes

  • Aeropostale: 60% off everything.
  • American Eagle: 40% off everything.
  • Banana Republic: 40% off everything.
  • Kmart: 50% off all pajamas and robes.

Toys

  • Toys ‘R’ Us: For video games, buy one, get one 30% off.

For the Home

  • Sears is offering one of its most popular tool sets at a $90 discount.
  • Lowe’s has 20% off vacuums and small appliances, including the KitchenAid mixer.

Bundling Specials

  • Target: Get a single-serve coffee maker for $149 bundled with a $30 gift card from Target.
  • Target: Get a Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight for $119 with a $20 Target gift card.

Electronics

  • Walmart has the best deals on Apple products this weekend.  Get the iPad 3 for $399 and get a $30 gift card.  Walmart also has the iPhone 5 for $75 off.

Shopping Hours

  • Macy’s: Some Macy’s stores will be open around the clock starting 7 a.m. Friday right up until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us: Most of the retailer’s stores will open from 6 a.m. Friday until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec202012

Christmas Shopping: How to Get Free Last-Minute Shipping Deals

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The cut-off for free shipping on most online sites was Tuesday, Dec. 18.  But there's still some ways you can finagle free rush shipping on last minute holiday gifts to make sure they arrive before Christmas Day.

Some of the biggest online retailers are still offering free last-minute shipping:

  • Barnes & Noble: Free shipping on Nook HD through Dec. 22.
  • MacMall: Free two-day shipping on orders over $299 and under 25 lbs. through 6 p.m. PST Dec. 22.
  • Macy’s: Free shipping on orders over $99; order needs to be placed  by 11:59 p.m. EST Dec. 20.
  • Overstock.com: Free shipping through the end of the month, but must place order by Dec. 22 to receive by Christmas.
  • Newegg: Free two-day shipping on over 200 items.
  • Target: Free shipping on Daily Deals.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Free shipping on orders over $100 using code “SHIP12.”  Order by 5 p.m. EST on Dec. 20.
  • Zappos: Free shipping for all items with guaranteed Christmas delivery if ordered by 11:59 p.m. PST Dec. 22.

And the biggest online retailer, Amazon, has a limited set of items available for free expedited shipping.  The items include jewelry, watches, clothing, video games, laptops, headphones and kitchen items.  But if you need something that’s not on this limited list, consider Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription service.  In exchange for a $79 fee, you get free two-day shipping all year long.  And yes, that also applies at Christmas (must order by 3 p.m. EST Dec. 22 to receive on time).  You can try the service free for six months.

If you have a family member who already belongs to Prime, they can nominate up to four people for the same free shipping benefits.  Prime members nominate someone by going to their account, clicking “settings” and “manage Prime membership.”

Also, Amazon Student is a free six-month membership to Prime with all the benefits, providing you have an email address that ends in .edu.

But you don’t have to limit yourself to Amazon.  Shoprunner.com also offers free two-day shipping, though the membership service costs $8.95 a month.  The site has tons of participating online retailers like ToysRUs, Sports Authority, Claire’s, PetSmart and EMS.

Finally, the best last-minute option for many is to ship to store.  You peruse all the options from home, pay online and then pick up your selection at your local store.  Tons of big retailers offer this service, and it guarantees your item will be in stock and waiting for you at customer service.

Major retailers offering free Ship to Store include:

  • Best Buy
  • Target
  • Toys R Us
  • Walmart
  • Sears

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec122012

The Cheapest Days to Fly This Christmas

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  That is, unless you have to fly somewhere.

Airfare booking data from online travel agent Travelocity shows domestic airfare this holiday season is 9 percent more expensive than last year.  The average cost of a round-trip domestic ticket is $414, including taxes.  An international ticket costs $990, 6 percent more than last year.

And prices are only expected to go up in the coming days.  Rick Seaney, CEO of Fare Compare, estimates travelers will pay an extra $5 for every day they wait to purchase holiday airfare through the second week in December and $10 per day the following week.

But not all days are created equal when it comes to finding a cheap flight home for the holidays.  Travelocity conducted a day-by-day analysis of prices over the Christmas travel season to find the cheapest days to fly.  Not surprisingly, Dec. 24 and 25 come in at some of the least expensive days.

But it may be worth it: Travelers who choose to depart on Dec. 23, 24 or 25 and return later in the week can save up to $379 on their airfare as opposed to those who leave the weekend before Christmas.

Here are some date combinations to avoid: Dec. 21/Dec. 29; Dec. 21/Dec. 30; Dec. 22/Dec. 30; Dec. 22/Dec. 31; and Dec. 22/Jan. 1.  Travelers departing and returning on these dates will pay more than $500 on average for their airfare.

The cheapest date combinations are: Dec. 25/Dec. 26: $187; Dec. 25/Dec. 27: $283; Dec. 25/Dec. 28: $329; and Dec. 24/Dec 27: $330.

And to bring down the cost of your ticket, incorporate any of the following dates into your travel plans: Dec. 24, Dec. 25 or Dec. 26.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug222012

Walmart’s Layaway Program Offers Christmas in September

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Following success last year, Walmart is set to begin its layaway program a month early.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant will run its Christmas layaway program from Sept. 16 through Dec. 14 in an effort to give parents more time to shop and pay for items this year.

“Last year, millions of Americans relied on layaway at Walmart to provide a great Christmas for their families,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer, Walmart U.S., in a written statement.  “Because of their feedback, we’re offering the service again this year and making it better than ever.”

For fans who “like” the company’s Facebook page, Walmart will allow users to begin layaway on Sept. 14 -- two days early.

This year the company will allow customers to lay away small home appliances and sporting goods in addition to toys and electronics.  (Shoppers can only lay away items valued at $15 or more.)

The layaway program requires a down payment of $10 or 10 percent -- whichever is greater -- and a $15 open fee.  The open fee is more than three times the rate in 2011.

According to a spokeswoman for Walmart, the company last year charged a $5 open fee and $10 cancellation fee.

“If you see it through, like the majority of our customers do, the money will be returned,” a spokeswoman for Walmart told ABC News.

“When it came to the fees, what mattered most to our customers was getting them back,” the spokeswoman added.

This year the retailer will refund the “open fee” in the form of a Walmart gift card after customers make the final layaway payment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan062012

Best Buy Reports Weak Holiday Sales

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(RICHFIELD, Minn.) -- Feeling the squeeze by online retailers like Amazon and discount stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy is reporting weak December sales, according to the Wall Street Journal, and the company’s CEO says customer traffic was unexpectedly low.

The company just days before Christmas informed customers it could not deliver on purchases made on the web in late November. Customers were left without the items they ordered.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan032012

Record Holiday Gift Returns Create Shipping Wave

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With robust holiday retail sales comes the inevitability of a mountain of returns, and Tuesday is the biggest day for shipping firms to handle that tsunami of unwanted items. Some retailers are even easing their online gift return policies.

According to commScore, people spent $35.3 billion online for the holiday season as of Dec. 28, a 15 percent increase over the same time period last year.

Consumers spent about $44 billion at retailers just in the week ending Dec. 24, a 14.8 percent gain over the same week last year, according to ShopperTrak.

The National Retail Federation estimates holiday gift returns will total a record $46.3 billion in 2011, up 4 percent from the previous year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec282011

Christmas Shopping Strong in Final Week: Report

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More holiday shoppers procrastinated until the last week of the shopping season, but a mall trade group survey suggests they made up for it.

The International Council of Shopping Centers says revenues rose .9 percent for the final week compared to the week before, and were up 4.5 percent from the same week last year.

Gift card sales, they say, accounted for 17.9 percent of all sales during the week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio