OK. If you love is not into Legos, you might consider buying the gifts from the song "The 12 Days of Christmas." But it's going to cost you. Today's last word in business is: Christmas Price Index.
Each year, PNC Wealth Management adds up all 364 items in the old Christmas carol, you know, the swans, the geese, the golden rings - and comes up with a price tag. This year the presents will set you back more than $107,000. That's up more than six percent from last year.
NPR News business news starts with a shopping bonanza.
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INSKEEP: American shoppers turned out in record numbers over the holiday weekend. The National Retail Federation says that since Thursday some 247 million people - that would be most of us - visited brick and mortar stores and retail websites spending more than $59 billion - up 13 percent over last year. And now, with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday behind us, online retailers get to take center stage with Cyber Monday.
Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 2:50 pm
First, there was the post-Thanksgiving sales spectacle Black Friday and then the online version, Cyber Monday. Now, charitable groups want to start a new holiday tradition — it's called Giving Tuesday and the first one is tomorrow.
It may seem a little surprising that no one came up with the idea before of designating a specific day to help launch the holiday charitable giving season.
Ahmed Jama was running a successful Somali cafe in southwest London when he decided it was time to go home. Against the urgent advice of friends, he returned to Mogadishu three years ago and started cooking.
Jama epitomizes the spirit of rebirth in the city that has been brutalized by 21 years of civil war. As expatriates return to take their homeland back from warlords, terrorists and looters, Jama is doing his part to revive Mogadishu one prawn at a time.
Lots of good business ideas have emerged from kids' play. Seattle-area resident Will Chapman could thank his youngest son. At the age of 9, he wanted to know all he could about World War II and was using Lego toys to act out history. But his son was stymied — he couldn't find all the pieces he wanted.
Each year Lego turns out 19 billion plastic bricks, figures and gears for building things. But sometimes, it seems, even 19 billion isn't enough.
In American retail history, this may be the year that Black Friday shaded into Thursday night. Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart, several other retailers opened on Thursday night, Thanksgiving night, and on Friday, many other online retailers offered flash sales - special deals lasting just a couple of hours. Patty Edwards is the chief investment officer for Trutina Financial, a financial services firm in Washington state. She joins us from member station KUOW in Seattle. Thanks so much for being with us.
For the last century and a half, the wine season in France's grape-growing region of Burgundy has revolved around one major commercial event. On the third Sunday in November, hundreds of barrels of the recent harvest are sold to the highest bidder in a charity wine auction. The historic event, which took place this year on Nov. 18, has evolved into an A-list rendezvous for the power players in the international wine industry.
Jammed between Gray Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday is yet another day devoted to shopping: Small Business Saturday.
Wallets are expected to open yet again on Saturday — this time for mom-and-pop stores. Main Street in Littleton, Colo., is filled with them. The street is lined with small bars and restaurants along with other businesses, including a spice store and a men's clothing boutique.
Dave Drake owns Colorado Frame and Savvy Stuff, the "savvy stuff" being women's accessories, purses, scarves and decorations.
Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 3:36 pm
If you like photographing, but are somehow not enticed by long lines, getting elbowed in the ribs and cut off by shopping carts in pursuit of a red tag sale, Picture Black Friday might give you another excuse to get out there today.
"I think there are enough people turning the economy over," says Sandy Carson. "I'd rather just make photos and be an observer."
Today's last word in business is busting the doorbusters.
Shoppers are heading out to stores today. Many went shopping overnight to seize those Black Friday bargains. But are the deals really unbeatable?
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
No. Not according to an analysis by pricing research firm Decide Incorporated and The Wall Street Journal. They found that many products with so-called doorbuster deals had deals that were available at even lower prices at other times of the year - even at the same retailer.
The tiny eastern Mediterranean country of Cyprus is expected to become the fifth eurozone nation to receive a bailout. But the island-nation, which is about half the size of Connecticut, could soon access a massive treasure under the sea: natural gas.
If all goes well, Cyprus could start making more than $25 billion a year — about the same as the country's current GDP — starting as early as 2015, says Solon Kassinis. Twenty years ago, few listened to the engineer when he said there was gas and oil under the seabed.
As we charge into the holiday gift buying season, gadgets are usually near the top of many people's wish lists. Our regular technology commentator Rich Jaroslovsky of Bloomberg News tells us about his gadget picks for 2012.
Rich, thanks for joining us.
RICH JAROSLOVSKY: Thank you.
WERTHEIMER: First, Rich, let's look at the camera. It's an amazing little machine. It doesn't even vaguely look like a camera. It looks like it must be expensive and do lots of clever tricks?
Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 2:51 am
Union-backed organizations plan to picket selected stores across the country, about 1,000 in all. Journalist Charles Fishman tells Linda Wertheimer the groups protesting want to make Wal-Mart a better company and a better place to work. Fishman is the author of the book, The Wal-Mart Effect.
Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 2:52 am
Airlines are always crowded during the Thanksgiving holiday. But if you've had the feeling they're becoming more crowded all the time, it's not just your imagination. On average, more than 80 percent of airline seats have been filled and plenty of flights have been packed to capacity.
Gray Thursday may become the new Black Friday. Many big retailers have moved up the beginning of their shopping season, traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving, to Thursday evening.
Brick-and-mortar retailers are feeling pressure from online retailers, which have given consumers an earlier shopping option.
"In the past, online retailers have had Thanksgiving Day all to themselves," says Marshal Cohen, retail analyst with the NPD Group. "And what that means is by the time Black Friday comes around, a lot of consumers have already spent a bunch of money."
New Year's Day typically inspires hope and new beginnings. But this next one may be cause for trepidation. Tax cuts for all income levels expire on Jan. 1, 2013, and most federal programs will face a 10 percent haircut — because Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.
Hewlett Packard is claiming it was duped into overpaying when it acquired Britain's largest software company a little more than a year ago. HP released its latest quarterly earning report on Tuesday and announced that it was writing off most of the $11 billion investment. The firm HP bought, Autonomy, denies there were any improprieties.
There were 410,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 41,000 from the level of the week before — when the number of applications soared because of the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy.
Here is a story that's has people in South Carolina on edge. Foreign hackers recently broke into the state's Department of Revenue and stole the records of 3.8 million individual taxpayers and nearly three-quarters of a million businesses. The breach affects everyone who filed an electronic tax return in South Carolina going back to 1998. NPR's Kathy Lohr has the story.
Between the lines and the crowds and the dashes to gates, airports are busy places. Atlanta's airport is one of the busiest in the world, especially during Thanksgiving, which is the busiest holiday for travel. Charles Edwards of member station WABE braved the city's airport to bring us this story.
CHARLES EDWARDS, BYLINE: So far this week, security lines inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have been long. But, they're moving.
As the holiday season takes hold in New York City, shoppers are heading to FAO Schwartz near Central Park for toys, and to Macy's on 34th Street for clothes or cookware. They shouldn't have a problem, Midtown Manhattan was largely unaffected by Hurricane Sandy. One major tourist attraction in lower Manhattan wasn't so lucky.
Dan Tucker, of member station WNYC, has this report from the historic South Street Seaport.
NPR's business news starts with a costly misstep by HP.
The California-based technology giant is writing down an $8.8 billion loss. CEO Meg Whitman says much of that comes from new revelations about Autonomy, a software company HP bought last year. She says the company lied about the state of its finances. HP plans to sue, and has asked authorities in both the U.S. and the U.K. to investigate. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
In Washington, lawmakers are trying to work out a deal to keep the economy from going over the fiscal cliff. Many economists predict those automatic tax hikes combined with deep spending cuts set to go into effect on New Year's Day would throw the economy back into recession.
A group of top CEOs has been urging lawmakers to reach a deal to keep that from happening. Mark Bertolini is one of them. He's CEO of the health insurer Aetna and he said tax increases are as important as spending cuts. We called him to talk more.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have brought charges in what they are calling the biggest insider trading case ever. A former hedge fund employee made about a quarter billion dollars for the fund after allegedly getting a sneak preview of clinical trial data for a new drug.
NPR's Ailsa Chang reports prosecutors believe this may lead them to even bigger cases.
With the holiday shopping season shifting into high gear, retailers are doing everything they can to win consumer dollars. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is trying out one new strategy this season: same-day delivery. In a few select markets, it's joining online retail giant Amazon and eBay's "Now" service in offering super-quick delivery, straight to your door.