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Entries in Holiday (11)

Saturday
Dec152012

Gift Guide: 5 Fun, Funky Gifts for the Pop Culture Lover in Your Life

Fab.com(NEW YORK) -- Sure, you could get your Spielberg-loving grandparent the Jaws DVD, or give the Gaga-phile in your life a box set. But why not gift them with something they probably wouldn’t find on their own?

Marilyn iPhone Case by Incase - Celebrate two icons in a snap. This iPhone 4 Snap Case features a stunning collage of Marilyn Monroe portraits by pop art pioneer Andy Warhol. Head to Fab.com for other Marilyn themed products, like Mac Book sleeves and a tote bag. ($39.95, Fab)

Movie Posters by Claudia Varosio - Artist Claudia Varosio’s commemorates films like Jaws, Anchorman, and E.T. in these original, whimsical prints. All posters are printed by a professional print service on premium archival lustre paper that’s both water- and fade-resistant. ($44, Fab)

Celebrity-Curated Beauty Products via Birchbox - For the holidays, Birchbox launched a celebrity-curated shop to benefit Art of Elysium, a non-profit that encourages actors to spend time with children battling medical conditions. The organization’s supporters hand picked beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products that you can buy. Get Jamie-Lynn Sigler’s favorite shine spray, “True Blood” star Kristin Bauer van Straten’s go-to face wash, or this gorgeous flatiron that Rumer Willis uses on her locks. (amika flatiron, $125, Birchbox)

Icons: Celeb Snaps From Famed Fashion Photogs - This book is a must for the coffee table of any fashion photography fan. Markus Klinko and Indrani have been snapping celebrities like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, and Naomi Campbell for nearly 20 years. Icons features 250 of their stunning photographs along with anecdotes from their shoots. ($16.50, Amazon)

Red Carpet Worthy Bling by BaubleBar - Maybe you can’t afford the gems celebrities rock on the red carpet (most of the time, they can’t either — those Fred Leighton stunners are usually borrowed). Get the next best thing at BaubleBar, where designers craft stunning pieces of jewelry that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. This Gold Swing Necklace comes with a set of matching bangles, and at the price BaubleBar’s selling it for, you can pick up another gift set (or two) for yourself.  ($84, BaubleBar)

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

'Tis the Season... to Tip Your Service Providers

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans have always been known as generous. And as it turns out, we still are -- especially at this time of year.

"This year, 62 percent of those surveyed by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, said they tipped at least one of 15 common service providers we asked about," the report said.

Consumer Reports says childcare providers got the most holiday tips, followed by housekeepers and teachers.

“Think about the people who consistently do a good job for you on a weekly or daily basis,” explains Wendy Bounds, an ABC News lifestyle contributor.

"If your budget is tight, and you just can't afford it, hand-write a note of thanks, because something is always better than nothing," suggests Consumer Reports.

The folks who get tipped the least this time of year? Consumer Reports says it’s those who may just have the dirtiest job -- sanitation workers.

Click here for more on this Consumer Reports survey, "Holiday tipping etiquette: What to give and to whom
."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct272011

Consumers Fight Early Christmas Decorations

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Those who think the commercialization of the holidays has gone too far, including seeing Christmas trees in shopping malls before Halloween, have taken action. Consumers fed up with Christmas decorations and products creeping into retail outlets earlier every year are trying to shame retailers into patience.

Led by Consumerist.com, shoppers are taking photos of Christmas decorations in stores with a cut-out “Christmas Creep” character. The photos are posted on the consumer news website in the hope of discouraging retailers from jumping on the winter holiday season bandwagon.

Consumerist has covered the topic of stores that have made the holiday season an all-year affair, but this is the first year the site has launched an official campaign.

Chris Morran, senior editor at Consumerist, said just because the site’s staff launched this campaign does not mean it does not love the holidays and shopping.

The importance of consumer spending, which comprises two-thirds of U.S. GDP, is indisputable to the American economy. Holiday activity provides about 20 percent of retailers’ annual sales every year. Though with people as jittery as they are -- with October’s consumer confidence the lowest it has been since March 2009 -- stores are aggressively marketing to shoppers. Retail sales increased 1.1 percent in September to $395.5 billion, the biggest gain in seven  months, thanks in large part to auto sales, the Commerce Department reported earlier this month.

But Morran said seeing Christmas decorations in July or August not only cheapened and watered down the actual holiday shopping experience but also tended to override the holidays that should be getting “the proper attention.”

Morran said he had received numerous complaints from readers who hunted in the past week for Halloween decorations or costumes, only to find they had been replaced by tinsel and Christmas lights. He said many readers agreed that selling Christmas decorations in August could be “tacky,” though some have confessed to taking advantage of sale prices for the items.

The earliest “Christmas Creep” incident he could recall came when a hobby store began selling Christmas wreaths in June last year.

When asked what he thought was the “appropriate” time to display winter holiday decorations, Moran said the general consensus seemed to be that post-Halloween was an acceptable time for stores to begin selling Christmas decorations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

The Season Was Very Good for Online Sales

Photo Courtesy - ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- E-commerce enjoyed its best holiday season yet, as consumers spent an estimated $36.4 billion, according to a report from MasterCard research firm SpendingPulse. Overall, spending rose 15.4 percent during the shopping season that lasted from October 31-December 24, compared to the same period in 2009.

SpendingPulse Vice President Michael McNamara said “e-commerce accounts for a much larger share of overall retail sales compared to a few years ago. And during this holiday season, it registered double-digit growth for six out of seven weeks.”

There were six days over the past two months that spending exceeded $1 billion. Last year, the billion dollar threshold was only reached three times. Meanwhile, clothing was the biggest seller this year, accounting for 18.8 percent of all sales. Electronics also saw purchases up more than 12 percent from 2009 and there was an 11 percent increase in online department stores sales.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec262010

Chaos at the Mall as Post-Holiday Shopping Season Begins

Image Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Even before Christmas Day was over, the post-holiday push was under way. Retailers spent Christmas blitzing shoppers with email, desperate to keep a good thing going.

If sales continue to be strong over the next week, this holiday shopping season could be the best ever, despite the bad economy. Americans in 2007 spent a record $453 billion on holiday shopping. After a two-year dip, the numbers this year are creeping back.

The National Retail Federation predicts seasonal sales will top $451 billion dollars – a jump of more than 3 percent over last year.

So what’s the best strategy for post-Christmas shopping? Experts say consumers should check the web before checking the stores. Shoppers have spent more than $36 billion buying online this season, driven by discounts and free shipping – offers that continue this week, meaning you may not even have to brave the stores to get the best deal.

Getting people into the stores over the next few days is a big concern for retailers. Analysts are worried that bad weather across the country could keep people away and seriously impact stores’ bottom lines as retailers close out their holiday shopping seasons.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec252010

After Christmas Sales Could Lure Shoppers Back

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  With Christmas Day having finally arrived, the time will soon come for those who received to hit the stores to spend those gift cards and deftly return those unwanted items.

One of the major advantages of the season is the deals, discounts and bargains that stores offer to shoppers who flood in after the biggest gift-giving day of the year.

Some of the country's biggest retailers are prepared for the onslaught of customers. Best Buy and Sears have both announced sales that will begin on Dec. 26, while many stores are lengthening their operating hours to accommodate as many customers as possible.

After two down years, this year's Christmas season will go down as the holiday Americans decided to shop again. A strong Christmas Eve helped bolster spectacular sales for retailers, and the National Retail Federation predicts spending this holiday season will reach $451.5 billion, which is 3.3 percent up from last year.

This holiday season marks the biggest bump since 2006, and the largest total since a record $452 billion was spent in 2007. The holiday season runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, so a strong week after Christmas could still make this the biggest of all time.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec252010

Record Season for Holiday Shopping?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Believe it or not, this holiday shopping season could be one for the record books.

"We're seeing that the consumer really has a bit of strength left,” said Kamalesh Rao, director of economic research for MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse. “People are still going still out and spending on discretionary things.  On things they don't necessarily need.”

Struggling since the record 2007 shopping season, holiday sales shot back this year.  Americans spent more than $451 billion this year, a number that continued to grow late Friday night.

The biggest boost to sales totals this year came from online shopping. Consumers spent $36 billion online this year, as more shoppers stayed at home to buy.

The National Retail Federation upped its holiday forecast from a 2.3 percent rise in spending to 3.3 percent earlier this month, citing a strong start to the season.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec252010

Christmas Getaway: $3 Gas, More Travelers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- National prices at the gas pump are now averaging $3 a gallon for the first time since October 2008, according to a survey commissioned by AAA. That's nearly 40 cents a gallon higher than last year at this time, or around $3 extra for a 100-mile trip each way to visit grandma.

No matter how you are traveling -- car, train, bus, plane or ferry -- expect more company on your trip. AAA projects 92.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 3.1 percent from last year. As on every major holiday, the vast majority of travelers -- 93 percent -- will be drivers.

Winter weather is not going to cooperate for all travelers. Flights in and out of Europe have been delayed or canceled all week by bad weather. Those who did make it didn't always make it with their bags. In the U.S., meanwhile, a separate storm front is threatening to cause delays in the Southeast and the East Coast over the weekend.

Delta Air Lines is allowing travelers to and from Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Newark, New York and Washington to make changes to flights at no cost.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec242010

Holiday Tipping Guide: Don't Forget the Mailman and Babysitter

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- 'Tis the season to show your appreciation to everyone that makes life easier.

"Tipping is for the services you received through the year and a way to guarantee good service throughout the year," says Laura Rowley, a Yahoo! Finance columnist.

Despite an economic climate that has sent the real estate and job markets spiraling downward, holiday tipping is recession-proof. Tipping the babysitter or newspaper carrier is a way of showing your appreciation for services received. It's an act of appreciation that does not depreciate because of economic stressors.

"There's no one more important in a parent's life than the person taking care of a child when they're not home. You don't want to be a Scrooge when it comes to holiday tipping," says Wendy Sachs, editor-in-chief of Care.com, a family care organization. And that's even if you don't celebrate Christmas.

So who do Sachs and Rowley advise you tip this time of year?

The nanny, the babysitter, the teacher, daycare provider, hair stylist, newspaper carrier, the doorman, the office assistant, the mailman, the dog walker, housekeeper or cleaning lady, senior citizen care giver, and the garbage collector should all be on your ‘approved’ list.

Who don’t you need to tip, according to the experts? First, there’s the dry cleaner. "That's their business,” Rowley said. “If you want to give a gift, then give a card."

And then, of course, there’s your boss who Rowley says you should avoid giving a gift. She says it could look too much like a bribe.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

‘Anti-Christmas’ Retailer Gives Up on ‘Holidays?’

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) – Under pressure from other retailers and various organizations, Dick’s Sporting Goods has given up on its use of the phrase “holidays” in place of “Christmas,” according to AdAge.com.

The retailer, which had opted to embrace the spirit of the “holiday” season as opposed to “Christmas” when considering its advertising schemes, was put under pressure to change after the American Family Association encouraged all of its 2.3 million supporters to shun the sporting goods retailer.
 
"In our research of the Top 100 retailers in America, Dick's advertising is likely the most 'anti-Christmas' of all," read the alert sent out to AFA supporters.

"Sure, Dick's wants you to buy their products, but no retailer in the nation has appeared to go out of its way to snub 'Christmas' more than Dick's."

Dick’s was quick to respond to the AFA with a statement that said that changes to their marketing strategy were underway and that “Christmas” would become a major part of their advertising campaign by Nov. 28.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio