- Created on 12 November 2013
(AP Photo / Jae C. Hong, File)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Tuesday that it will start offering its holiday deals at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving at its stores — two hours earlier than last year.
The world's largest retailer will stagger holiday deals throughout the night and into "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving that's traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.
The company also said that it will increase its stock of TVs by 65 percent and double the number of tablet computers for sale that weekend. It's also bulking up the list of guaranteed popular items that it will sell in designated sections of its store to 21, from three last year.
Wal-Mart is responding to what's expected to be a fiercely competitive holiday shopping season. Black Friday has traditionally been the official kickoff to the period, but in the last few years, that start has crept into Thanksgiving. This year, stores including Macy's Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and Kohl's Corp. are opening for the first time on Thanksgiving evening. And other stores, including Best Buy Co., announced earlier on Thanksgiving.
Most of Wal-Mart's 4,000 U.S. namesake stores are already open 24 hours year-round. But the company is concentrating on offering holiday deals on Thanksgiving.
During a media call Monday, Duncan McNaughton, executive vice president and chief merchandising and marketing officer at Wal-Mart's U.S. namesake division, said the discounter carefully studied the competitive landscape when it decided to start the deals earlier at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving.
"Everyone's moved up this year so it will be a new dynamic," McNaughton said.
For online shoppers, Wal-Mart will be offering special deals starting Thanksgiving morning, some of which will be the same as those offered at the sales events at the stores later in the evening.
The stakes are high for retailers since the holiday season accounts for up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, expects an increase of 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion in holiday sales.
There's also more pressure on retailers this year because the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is six days shorter than in 2012.
- Created on 11 November 2013
Amazon is offering the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service a lifeline, The Washington Post reported.
On Monday, the online retailer announced plans to use the postal service to deliver packages to U.S. customers seven days a week.
Thanks to the new deal, Amazon customers will pay regular mailing rates for weekend deliveries, The Los Angeles Times reported. In the past, a Sunday delivery sent via Express Mail cost extra.
Amazon will launch the new Sunday service in the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas immediately, just in time for the holiday shopping rush. The rest of the country will follow suit in 2014.
To handle the additional mail load, the Postal Service will use its flexible scheduling of employees, USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan said. The USPS isn't planning to hire additional workers.
The partnership is expected to help the Postal Service, which lost $16 billion in the last year. Prior to the partnership, the USPS had been asking Congress for the authority to end Saturday delivery of letters in an effort to cut costs. According to The New York Times, the move will also help the Postal Service in its competition against United Parcel Service and FedEx.
- Created on 11 November 2013
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
It's becoming easier and easier to find gas for less than $3 a gallon.
The average price of a gallon of regular gas now stands at $3.19, according to AAA, after falling by about a penny a day for the last week. The steady decline has taken the average price below $3 already in six states -- Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas and Louisiana. Another six states are enjoying an average price within a nickel of that benchmark and could dip below three dollars soon.
But $3 gas isn't just limited to these 6 states.
Nearly 20% of gas stations nationwide are already charging less than $3 a gallon for regular gas, according to the Oil Price Information Service. And those stations are selling far more than their share of gas.
"In almost half the states, you don't need to make a great effort to find gas at $3 or less," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for OPIS, which compiles the price data for AAA, as well as for GasBuddy.com.
"To a great extent, the averages are really misleading," said Kloza. "A large station with cheap prices might sell 750,000 gallons a month, while a small independent station with high prices might be struggling to sell 100,000 gallons.
The increased supply of low-price crude from Canada and North Dakota is a major factor sending gas prices lower, Kloza said.
"We're seeing the cheapest crude on planet here," he said.
A quiet hurricane season and the lack of other disruptions at refineries has kept gasoline inventories high.
The national average is already below 2012's low of $3.21, and has been averaging about 25 cents a gallon less than last year's prices for much of this year. Kloza estimates that gas prices will continue to fall through the end of 2013, and that more than half of states will have an average price below $3 a gallon before Christmas, which is generally when prices bottom out for the year.
While high-price states like California and New York might keep the national average just above $3, Kloza said there is about a fifty-fifty chance that the national average could drop below $3 for the first time since late 2010.
- Created on 08 November 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — The 16-day government shutdown didn't seem to hurt the economy after all.
U.S. employers added a surprisingly strong 204,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department said Friday. And they added far more jobs in August and September than previously thought.
Activity at service companies and factories also accelerated last month in the midst of the shutdown.
All of which suggests the U.S. economy may be sturdier than many analysts had assumed.
The unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent in September, the Labor Department said. But that was probably because furloughed federal workers were temporarily counted as unemployed.
"The economy weathered the government shutdown surprisingly well," said Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley. "Businesses looked through the shutdown, remained confident in the growth outlook and kept hiring."
One weak link in the economy recently has been consumers, who spent cautiously over the summer, holding back growth. But the solid job gains in recent months, combined with modest increases in hourly pay, could encourage more spending.
Other trends have raised hopes that the economy will remain healthy in coming months: Growing demand for homes should support construction. And auto sales are likely to stay strong because many Americans are buying cars after putting off big purchases since the recession struck nearly six years ago.
Job growth is a major factor for the Federal Reserve in deciding when to reduce its economic stimulus. The Fed has been buying bonds to keep long-term interest rates low and encourage borrowing and spending.
Stocks rose sharply in afternoon trading as investors assessed the stronger-than-expected job growth. But the yield on the 10-year Treasury note surged to 2.75 percent from 2.60 percent late Thursday. That showed that some investors worry that the healthier job growth might prompt the Fed to pull back on its bond-buying soon.