Superstorm Sandy Blows Away Retail Sales.
Eighteen retailers, including Target and Macy’s on Thursday reported that November sales at stores open at least a year through last Saturday were up 1.7 percent compared with the year-ago period, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. That's well below the group's anticipated forecast for a 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent gain. Superstorm Sandy is blamed for dampening shopper enthusiasm during the first couple of weeks in November as stores were preparing for Black Friday, which ushers in the year’s biggest shopping period. Only a small group of stores representing about 13 percent of the $2.4 trillion U.S. retail industry report monthly revenue, and the list excludes big merchants such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, the Associated Press reports. But the data still offers a snapshot of consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of all economic activity.
Hostess Looks Tasty to Potential Buyers
Hostess Brands Inc. said in bankruptcy court Wednesday it is in talks with 110 potential buyers for its brands, which include the iconic snacks Twinkies, Hos Hos and CupCakes, the Associated Press reports. The suitors include at least five national retailers such as supermarkets, a financial adviser for the company said. Hostess received final approval for its liquidation plans that will result in the loss of 18,000 jobs. Hostess also received approval to award its top executives bonuses totaling up to $1.8 million for meeting certain liquidation goals, the AP said.
Ford Earns “Green Car” Honors
Edging out Toyota and Mazda, Ford Motor Co. won the “Green Car of the Year” award yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto show for its 2013 Fusion, USA Today reports. The latest generation Fusion won on the basis of both fuel efficiency and popularity. A top-10 bestseller, the Fusion stands to have a bigger impact on energy usage that a more niche green vehicle.”
Zucker To Head CNN
Jeff Zucker has been named the new president of CNN, the Time-Warner Inc. cable-news network, Bloomberg News reports. Zucker, former head of NBC Universal, said he plans to improve existing programming and find new and fresh programs to help CNN compete with Fox News and MSNBC, Bloomberg reports. Fox News now has three-times the viewers of CNN, which once led the cable-news competition. The Current CNN president, Jim Walton, plans to step down at the end of the year. Zucker will take over in January, reporting to Turner Broadcasting System CEO Phil Kent.
Fake Christmas Tree Shortage?
Sales of artificial trees are up more than 6 percent this year, according to USA Today, which reports a record 13.4 million trees have been sold so far. Retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot all report increases in sales, which rose by double-digits at the DIY giant. Sales are projected to hit a record $1.07 billion this year, and BalsamHill.com, the largest online artificial tree retailer, says supplies could even run out. Why the run on faux trees? Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow points to a shifting sense of reality brought on by Facebook, Twitter and other technologies. But, the National Christmas Tree Association points out that real trees still outsell fake trees by more than three to one.
Windows to Get Yearly Updates
Taking a page from the Apple playbook, Microsoft is planning to release annual updates of its Windows operating system, Financial Times reports. The first is scheduled for 2013, which would follow by less than a year last month’s launch of Windows 8, Microsoft’s bid for the touchscreen computing market. Updated versions of Windows have taken several years to develop and release to the public. The next generation Windows operating system is code-named “Blue,” the website Laptop reports.