Entries in Spending (44)


Construction Spending Hits Decade Low

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Construction spending in December fell to its lowest level in a decade, according to figures released by the Department of Commerce Tuesday.

The spending fell 2.5 percent in December while annual construction spending in the U.S. fell to $814 billion, the lowest level since July 2000.

Home building is expected to make a slow rebound amid foreclosures and unemployment. Spending on private construction fell 2.2 percent from November to December as homebuilding outlays dropped 4.1 percent.

Weather may also have played a factor in the December decline in home construction as December was one of the snowiest months on record.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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 


DOJ to Slash Spending In Attempt to Avoid Furloughs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder sent a memo to Justice Department employees last week saying he has ordered a hiring freeze and is asking the FBI, ATF, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service to curb non-personnel spending.

In his memo, Holder notes that the government is currently being funded until March 4 under a continuing resolution that keeps funding under last year's levels. Holder says the measures being implemented will help the department avoid the possibility of "more severe measures such as staff furloughs."

The Justice Department's budget request for the current fiscal year included a 5.4-percent funding increase, with over 2,800 employees being added to the department's workforce.

According to Justice Department officials, the measures include canceling non-essential travel and attending conferences. The Department's missions for counterterrorism and anti-drug operations are not expected to be affected.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Retail Sales Rise in December, Up 6.6% Overall in 2010

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales rose 0.6 percent in December -- slightly less than the 0.5 percent that economists had expected -- and 6.6 percent overall in 2010, a strong gain.

The December jump was the sixth consecutive monthly gain for retail sales.

"Today’s data underscore that retail sales -- a fundamental indicator of economic health -- grew at a strong pace throughout the second half of 2010, signaling momentum in consumer spending and the overall economy,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement Friday.

Priorities for the Commerce Department this year, Locke added, include “accelerated hiring” and economic growth.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Retail Sales Rose in 2010

Photo Courtesy - National Retail Federation(WASHINGTON) -- Retail spending tailed off a bit at the end of December, but 2010 was strong on the whole.

According to an industry report released Thursday, retailers had their strongest holiday gains in four years as sales at malls and shopping centers rose nearly four percent in 2010. A blizzard in the midwest and northeast took a bite out of store sales at the end of last month, but a strong November more than offset a slightly weaker than expected result for December sales.

Mesirow Financial Chief Economist Diane Swonk is excited about the new numbers, saying "the economy is clearly accelerating. Consumers that do have jobs are feeling better about the economy and spending more."

December sales are three percent higher than 2009, but Mesirow says not everything is rosy. "The bad news is oil prices, energy prices crept up over the course of the holiday season. Prices at the pump, in particular, soared in the last few weeks of December and that forced consumers to make trade-offs in their spending."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Reports Show Manufacturing, Construction Growth

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Reports on U.S. manufacturing and construction released Monday appear to show more economic growth is on the way.

The Commerce Department says construction spending rose for the third straight month. The November number went up .4 percent following stronger gains in the previous two months.

The people who do the buying for American businesses say manufacturing continued to grow last month. The Institute for Supply Management survey rose slightly compared with November. New orders rose sharply.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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


Final Stretch: Holiday Shoppers Hit the Malls

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Retailers are pulling out all the stops during this final weekend before Christmas: slashing prices, staying open all night and shifting sales strategies, all in effort to get procrastinators to spend.

"This is going to be one of the highest volume retail periods in the history of mankind,” said Toys R Us CEO Gerald Storch. “Every day from now until Christmas will be massive."

Even before this weekend, the numbers have been encouraging. The National Retail Federation originally predicted a 2.3 percent increase in holiday sales, but just recently revised that prediction to 3.3 percent.

"A lot of retail companies are betting on that last minute consumer,” said retail analyst Kristin Bentz. “When you get to the store, you'll have these ambassadors that are standing there with special gift cards, special discounts, because they want you in the store and they're going to reward you for that."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Electronic Wallets Shrink With Your Spending

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Convinced that consumers aren't in touch with their financial realities, an MIT designer has created a series of wallets to help you control what you spend.

One wallet, aptly named the "Bumblebee," buzzes each time your bank processes a transaction. Another, called "Mother Bear," closely guards your money with a hinge that tightens as you approach your monthly spending limit. And the red-flecked "Peacock" actually shrinks and swells as you spend.

"I'm trying to balance my sense of humor with getting people's attention and making a point and doing something practical," said John Kestner, 34-year-old product designer who recently finished a graduate degree at MIT's Media Lab.

For a class project a couple of years ago, Kestner said he developed early prototypes of the wallets with a few other students. He said the newest leather versions, which he completed with the help of an MIT undergraduate last year, are a significant step up.

Using Bluetooth technology, each of the wallets can communicate with a person's cell phone, which then connects to his bank account over a data connection. The phones receive text messages each time bank information changes, sending signals to the wallets to provide the tactile feedback.

As of now, the wallets are just thought pieces, meant to convey a concept. But given the interest he's received since news of his smart wallets hit the blogosphere, Kestner said he might try to commercialize his products.

Kestner said he's interested in streamlining the technology that communicates with the cell phone and hopes to develop electronic wallets that wouldn't even need to be charged. Now, he said, the battery-powered wallets need to be charged every few days.

And assuming the wallets actually do come to market, how much does Kestner think his high-tech greenback guardians might cost?

Definitely less than $100, he said.

"You can't charge too much for something that's supposed to help you save money," he said. "It would be irony if I convinced you that you need to buy this thing at a very high cost."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Number of Shoppers, Average Spending Up Black Friday Weekend

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A trade group that represents the nation’s big chain stores and some local retailers says shopping over the Black Friday weekend has shown improvement over last year.

Estimates from the National Retail Federation indicate that some 212 million shoppers will have visited the nation’s stores between Thursday and Sunday, up from 195 million last year.

The NRF says it believes the average spent by consumers increased as well, up 6.4 percent to $365.34. Total spending topped $45 billion, according to the group.

“While Black Friday weekend is not always an indicator of holiday season performance, retailers should be encouraged that a focus on value and discretionary gifts has shoppers in the spirit to spend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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