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 January 27, 2015 18:22 GMT
NEW YORK (AP) -- Several big-name companies have turned in disappointing earnings or weaker outlooks today.
Caterpillar's stock has fallen 7 percent after restructuring costs took a bite out of earnings. The heavy equipment maker also issued a weaker outlook, citing the tumbling price of commodities.
Procter & Gamble is down 3 percent as the strong U.S. dollar cut into second-quarter earnings. The company says exchange rates will remain a challenge well into fiscal 2015.
American Airlines is bucking the negative trend with its results, though not with its share price. The airline is getting a huge lift from cheaper fuel -- with savings that could top $5 billion this year -- and strong travel demand. It logged record profits of $597 million in the fourth quarter, reversing a $2 billion loss a year earlier. However, American's shares have fallen 3 percent after the company said first quarter revenue for each seat flown would be 2 to 4 percent lower than a year ago.
3M's shares are down despite 7 percent increase in profits. DuPont is also down despite rising profits.
Pfizer shares are flat, but it is the one member of the Dow 30 that's at least seen its stock price flirt with a gain. Despite a drop in fourth-quarter profits, the drugmaker beat Wall Street expectations.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer confidence shot up in January to the highest level since August 2007.
The Conference Board reports that its consumer confidence index climbed to 102.9 this month from a revised 93.1 in December.
Americans are feeling better about current economic conditions, including the job market. They are also more optimistic about business conditions over the next six months.
Consumer confidence has been rising as the economy improves. Employers added nearly 3 million jobs last year, most since 1999. The unemployment rate last month tumbled to a 6-year low of 5.6 percent.
The economy grew from July through September at a 5 percent annual rate, fastest in 11 years.
Adding to improving spirits: Gas prices have plunged to $2.04 a gallon Tuesday from $2.32 a gallon a month ago, according to AAA.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods dropped sharply in December, dragged lower by a big decline in demand for commercial aircraft.
The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods fell 3.4 percent in December following a 2.1 percent decline in November. The weakness was led by a 55.5 percent plunge in the volatile category of commercial aircraft.
There was also weakness in a number of areas, and a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans edged down 0.6 percent in December after a similar decline in November and a 1.8 percent fall in October.
NEW HOME SALES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of new U.S. homes accelerated strongly in December, a sign that home-buying may improve this year after a lackluster 2014.
The Commerce Department says new home sales climbed 11.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000. The gains were not enough to offset essentially flat home-buying over the course of 2014. Just 435,000 new homes were bought last year, a modest 1.2 percent improvement from 2013.
The growth in December pointed to rising sales in 2015, buoyed by the combination of strong hiring in recent months and drastically lower mortgage rates. Home values are also rising at a slower pace, improving affordability for would-be buyers.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. home prices rose at a modest pace in November, held back by weaker sales and a limited number of available houses.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index increased 4.3 percent in November from 12 months earlier. That's down slightly from a 4.5 percent pace in October. Sharp price increases early last year and tight credit held back home sales in 2014. Sales of existing homes fell 3.1 percent to 4.93 million. Yet housing may rebound this year thanks to smaller price gains, lower mortgage rates, and healthy hiring.
The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The November figures are the latest available.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates fell in 42 U.S. states last month, the latest sign that strong hiring is boosting job opportunities nationwide.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that rates rose in just four states last month and were unchanged in four others.
Job gains remained healthy in states with large oil and gas industries, suggesting that plunging oil prices have yet to cause significant layoffs. Texas gained 45,700 jobs in December, the most in the nation. Overall, 41 states gained jobs, while nine said they had lost jobs.
Nationwide, nearly 3 million more Americans are earning paychecks now compared with 12 months ago. That should help boost consumer spending and accelerate the economy's growth. Analysts forecast that growth should top 3 percent this year for the first time in a decade.
GAS LINE ACCIDENTS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Accident investigators say there are systemic weaknesses in the way natural gas providers protect against the rupture of major, high-pressure pipelines in populated areas. They are pointing to three powerful accidents in California, Florida and West Virginia in recent years.
A report by the National Transportation Safety Board urges changes in how pipelines are inspected. It questions whether pipelines in populated areas with the greatest potential for damaging explosions are given adequate priority.
In each of the accidents examined by the board, the gas companies failed to conduct inspections or tests that might have revealed pipeline weaknesses.
The U.S. is crisscrossed by nearly 300,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines, more than half of which were installed before 1970.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is floating a plan that for the first time would open up areas off the Atlantic Coast to drilling
The proposal envisions auctioning areas located more than 50 miles off Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia to oil companies come 2021. For decades, oil companies have been barred from drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, where a moratorium was in place up until 2008.
Meanwhile, the plan also would restrict drilling in environmentally-sensitive areas off Alaska. It would make parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off limits, citing their importance to Alaska natives and the sensitive environmental resources.
The plan is already drawing criticism on Capitol Hill. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski calls it a war on her home state. Northeastern Democrats are expected to outline their objections later today to drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration's top trade official says Congress must return enhanced negotiating powers to the White House in order to cut important trade deals with Pacific-rim nations and others.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told Congress on Tuesday that President Barack Obama needs "trade promotion authority." That power, sometimes called "fast-track" authority, allows presidents to send proposed trade agreements to Congress for yes or no votes, with no amendments.
Congress has sometimes granted such powers before.
Utah Republican and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch agreed that Obama needs the enhanced authority to complete a long-discussed trade deal with Japan and several other Pacific nations.
Many Democrats, liberals and labor groups oppose such deals, which they say hurt American jobs. Several anti-trade protesters interrupted Froman's committee testimony.
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