Thursday: Mostly cloudy with a period or two of showers and storms. Ending as the afternoon goes on. High in the mid/upper 80s. A west, then northwest wind ... More...
Suggestions for a Less Stressful Shopping Season
The 2013 holiday shopping season is set to be the shortest on record. With just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, six fewer than last year’s 32 days, consumers will undoubtedly be seeking easy and efficient ways to still get their shopping done. In order to make the most of your shopping trips, here are a few simple tips from the professional at Hamilton Place Mall:
Have a shopping list. Taking a few minutes to actually write out what you need and who you’re shopping for can save both stress and over-spending. It will also save you time, especially if you’ve written down information such as sizes and color preferences. Don’t forget to list the people who will receive holiday tips such as the babysitter, dog groomer, mail and newspaper carriers or hair stylist. This will also help you manage your holiday budget. But you may also want to have a few “surprise” gifts that are generic in case you forget anyone or someone drops by with a gift for you during the holidays.
Be comfortable. Wear comfortable shoes to keep your feet happy during your shopping trip. If possible, leave your bulky winter coat in the car.
Shop during the week rather than on the weekend. Generally, fewer people shop during the week as compared to the weekend. Also, malls are places where people socialize as well as shop. With school in session during the week, you’ll find fewer families in the mall at that time.
Shop early in the day rather than later in the day or evening. Remember the saying, “The early bird catches the worm.” The same applies to shopping. In the mornings there are generally fewer people out. That means fewer crowds, faster service and time to browse a bit more when making gift selections.
Shop with somebody. This is a good idea unless the person you’re shopping with is the person you’re shopping for! Nevertheless, time goes by faster when you’re shopping with someone. Plus, you have somebody to talk to, to share gift ideas with and to help make color and size decisions.
Make multiple shopping trips rather than an all-day shopping marathon. This will require a bit more planning, but can help preserve your strength, stamina and sanity in the long run. There are numerous methods to use in following this suggestion such as shopping for all the members of a particular family or purchasing children’s presents on one trip and adult’s presents on another trip.
Map out your shopping trip. When planning a trip, you wouldn’t dream of driving off without having looked up directions on your phone or the internet. Why should shopping be any different? If you know what you want to purchase and where you can find it, half your battle is won.
Don’t forget the gift receipt and gift wrapping. In order to ensure that the recipient can return or exchange an item, make sure the sales associate includes a gift receipt with your purchase. At Hamilton Place Mall you will find Kids on the Block gift wrap stations located on the upper level by Customer Service and on the lower level by JCPenney.
Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or directions. In order to make room for holiday and seasonal merchandise, stores sometimes have to reconfigure departments or sections. This can be confusing to a customer who regularly shops that store. As a result, a great deal of time can be spent “searching” for merchandise and the searching can lead to frustration. Why not simply ask a sales associate for assistance?
THINK SAFETY - One final suggestion regarding shopping – at any time – but particularly during the holidays, is to keep safety in mind at all times. Know where you place your credit card or checkbook after a purchase. Don’t keep large amounts of cash in your wallet or purse. Take in just want you need to spend and come back later. When getting money from an ATM, don’t let people crowd you too closely. When taking purchases to your car, lock them out of sight in the trunk rather than exposed in the back seat. Finally, let somebody at home know you’re going to be shopping, your destination, route and estimated time of return.
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Last Update on July 23, 2014 17:22 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The International Monetary Fund has shaved its forecast for U.S. economic growth this year, mostly because of a sharp contraction in the first quarter.
But the global lending organization still expects that growth accelerated in the April-June quarter and will remain healthy for the rest of this year and next.
The IMF projects growth will be just 1.7 percent this year, down from a 2 percent estimate in June. That would make 2014 the weakest year since the recession ended in June 2009.
The IMF's outlook is more pessimistic than the Federal Reserve, which expects growth of at least 2.1 percent. But it matches most other economists.
The Fund also urged the U.S. government to take steps to boost growth, including encouraging more Americans to find jobs and lifting productivity.
RETAIL SALES-ANNUAL FORECAST
NEW YORK (AP) -- The nation's largest retail trade group is paring its annual sales forecast because of slower-than-expected growth during the first half of the year tied to winter storms and lingering economic woes.
The Washington-based National Retail Federation says Wednesday that it now expects retail sales will rise 3.6 percent this year to $3.2 trillion, instead of its original prediction of 4.1 percent released in early February.
The figures include sales in stores and online but exclude automotive sales and sales at gas stations and restaurants.
Retailers now are heading into the back-to-school shopping season, the second-largest shopping period behind the winter holidays.
SEC-MONEY MARKET FUNDS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Regulators have voted narrowly to end a longtime staple of the investment industry -- the fixed $1 share price for money-market mutual funds -- at least for some money funds used by big investors.
The idea is to minimize the risk of a mass withdrawal from the funds during a financial panic.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also is letting money funds block withdrawals when their assets fall below certain levels or impose fees for withdrawals.
The new rules were adopted Wednesday on a 3-2 vote. They were opposed by one Democratic and one Republican commissioner.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate has advanced an election-year bill limiting tax breaks for U.S. companies that move operations overseas. But big hurdles remain.
The Senate voted 93-7 Wednesday to begin debating the bill, which would prevent companies from deducting expenses related to moving operations to a foreign country. The bill would offer tax credits to companies that move operations to the U.S. from overseas.
Senate Democratic leaders say the bill would end senseless tax breaks for companies that ship jobs abroad. Republicans say the bill is an election-year ploy that has no chance of becoming law. They note that a similar bill failed two years ago.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Aviation Administration says it will continue its ban on U.S. airline flights to Tel Aviv while assessing the danger of rocket attacks.
The agency said Wednesday it is working closely with the Israeli government to review new information they have provided and to determine whether safety concerns have been resolved.
FAA instituted the flight prohibition on Tuesday in response to a rocket strike that landed about a mile from the airport.
The directive applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.
But European airlines are also avoiding Tel Aviv, after the European Aviation Safety Agency on Tuesday recommended doing so.
On Wednesday, Germany's two largest airlines, Lufthansa and Air Berlin, extended their cancellations through Thursday. Air France said it was suspending its flights "until further notice."
BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's executive is proposing legislation to curb the energy use of households and firms by almost one third by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower its dependence on gas imports, particularly those from Russia.
The Commission proposed Wednesday to increase energy efficiency by 30 percent, an upward revision of its earlier target of 20 percent by 2020.
Energy savings can be achieved by improving building insulation, upgrading heating systems or lowering the electricity need of new appliances like fridges.
The Commission says that for one additional percent in energy savings, EU gas imports are expected to fall 2.6 percent.
It estimates reaching the target will require investments of 89 billion euros ($132 billion) annually across the 28-nation bloc.
The proposal still requires approval from EU governments.
BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union is giving Lithuania the green light to adopt the euro currency starting next year.
Ministers from the 28-nation bloc on Wednesday cleared the final legal hurdle for Lithuania to become the 19th member of the currency zone encompassing some 330 million people. The country had been given preliminary approval in June.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said adopting the euro will strengthen the Baltic nation's economy.
Alluding to the tensions with Russia over Ukraine, he added deeper integration with western Europe "means greater security as well."
Lithuania's Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Latvia, are already members of the euro. All three countries achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The euro is just emerging from years of financial stress following debt problems in a number of countries.
LONDON (AP) -- Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has cut its full-year earnings expectations as it says its second-quarter profits were hit by currency moves and a fall in sales of its respiratory drugs.
The company said Wednesday it expects 2014 earnings per share to be broadly similar to last year. It had previously forecast growth of between 4 and 8 percent.
GSK said second-quarter revenue fell 16 percent to 5.6 billion pounds ($9.5 billion) from 6.6 billion pounds in the same quarter in the previous year. Profit attributable to shareholders dropped from 1.05 billion pounds a year earlier to 654 million pounds.
The firm, which remains troubled by a high-profile bribery investigation in China, said sales there were down 20 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has endorsed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to be the new secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The panel unanimously backed McDonald on Wednesday, one day after a nomination hearing in which he faced no opposition.
Senators said they are eager for McDonald to begin work at the beleaguered agency, which has been plagued by treatment delays and falsified records at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide.
McDonald has pledged to "transform" the VA and address a series of "systematic failures," including patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity.
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