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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 29, 2014 07:37 GMT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Asian stock markets posted modest gains today as investors treaded cautiously ahead of U.S. and Chinese economic reports later this week.
Japan's Nikkei added 0.5 percent to 15,604.80 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.6 percent to 2,061.95.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.2 percent to 24,483.85 while China's benchmark Shanghai Composite gained 0.1 percent to 2,180.52.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.1 percent to 5,570.90.
Markets in India, Indonesia and Malaysia were closed for holidays.
WASHINGTON (AP) --Federal Reserve policymakers open a two-day meeting later this morning. They will be watched closely for any significant changes in the low-interest rate policy the board has pursued since the Great Recession of 2009 under then-Chairman Ben Bernanke and now Janet Yellen.
The Fed chief told Congress earlier this month that it would be a serious mistake for lawmakers to require the nation's central bank to adopt a formal policy rule to guide its decisions on setting interest rates.
Also due today are the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index of home prices for May and the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index for July.
Among the quarterly financial results due today before the market opens are t hose from Aetna Inc., Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Reynold American Inc., and UPS Inc.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government says Medicare's finances have improved. The program's hospital trust fund won't be exhausted until 2030 -- four years later than last year's estimate.
Social Security's massive retirement program will remain solvent until 2034, although disability benefits are in more immediate danger.
The disability trust fund is now projected to run dry in 2016. At that point, the program will collect enough taxes to pay 81 percent of benefits.
The trustees who oversee Social Security and Medicare issued their annual report Monday on the financial health of the government's largest benefit programs.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A study by the Urban Institute shows that more than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies.
These consumers fall behind on credit cards or hospital bills. Their mortgages, auto loans or student debt pile up, unpaid. Even past-due gym membership fees or cellphone contracts can end up with a collection agency, potentially hurting credit scores and job prospects.
The study by the Washington-based think tank released Tuesday points to a disturbing trend: The share of Americans in collections has remained relatively constant, even as the country as a whole has whittled down the size of its credit card debt since the official end of the Great Recession in the middle of 2009.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Southwest Airlines has 30 days to respond to a proposed $12 million government civil fine for failing to comply in three separate cases with safety regulations related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners.
The FAA says that beginning in 2006, Southwest made "extreme makeover" alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. The agency also says that its investigation determined that Southwest's contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Washington, failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage as well as other work on the planes. It said that all of the work was done under the supervision of Southwest, which was responsible for seeing that it was done properly.
The FAA said that Southwest then returned the planes to service in 2009 and began flying them even after the FAA said these aircraft were not in compliance with safety regulations.
Brandi King, a spokeswoman for Southwest, said the airline will "respond to the FAA allegations" in accordance with the agency's procedures.
DETROIT (AP) -- Ford is raising the price of its new aluminum-sided pickup truck, while trying to stay competitive with rivals.
Ford released pricing on the truck Monday. It goes on sale later this year.
The new truck comes in five variants, down from 10 on the current truck. All have aluminum sides, which is more expensive than steel but weighs less and saves fuel.
Ford's base XL and XLT models -- which make up 70 percent of sales -- will cost $395 more. A fancier King Ranch costs $3,615 more, but includes new standard features like a heated steering wheel.
The base XL will start at $26,615, including destination fees. That's slightly higher than the Ram pickup but lower than the Chevrolet Silverado.
The most-expensive Platinum version will start at $55,235.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentina's government says it will make another effort to reach a deal with US. creditors ahead of a looming deadline that risks sending the country into its second default in 13 years.
Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said an Argentine delegation would be in New York to meet with a court-appointed mediator Tuesday, just a day ahead of the deadline.
Capitanich said Argentina's position "is to reach a dialogue that establishes fair, legal and sustainable conditions for negotiation with 100 percent of the bondholders." He spoke at a news conference at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires.
But the mediator, Daniel A. Pollack, said in a statement that while the Argentines would meet him, they had not yet accepted his recommendation of face-to-face talks with the plaintiffs in the dispute, led by New York billionaire Paul Singer's NML Capital Ltd.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Darden Restaurants says CEO and chairman Clarence Otis is stepping down as the company fights to fix its flagship Olive Garden chain following the sale of Red Lobster.
The company, based in Orlando, Florida, also says it's changing its corporate policies to split the chairman and CEO roles.
Darden said Monday that it appointed its current lead independent director, Charles Ledsinger, Jr., as independent non-executive chairman, effective immediately. Otis will serve as CEO until a successor is named, or Dec. 31, whichever comes first.
Darden Restaurants Inc. had been under fire for failing to turn around declining sales at Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Earlier on Monday, it said its contested sale of Red Lobster was finalized.
Otis became CEO in late 2004, adding the chairman role a year later.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A judge has ruled against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and cleared the way for the $2 billion sale of the team to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Judge Michael Levanas sided with Sterling's estranged wife Monday in the case that arose after the 80-year-old billionaire was banned by the NBA for making offensive remarks about blacks.
Shelly Sterling sought the court's approval for the deal she negotiated after taking control of a family trust. She removed her husband as a trustee after two doctors found he had Alzheimer's disease and couldn't manage his affairs.
Donald Sterling claimed his wife deceived him about the medical exams.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- HealthSouth Corp. (HLS) has reported profit that declined by 49 percent in its second quarter, but adjusted earnings still beat analysts' expectations.
The Birmingham, Alabama-based company said Monday that net income after preferred dividends fell to $81.6 million, or 85 cents per share, from $159.4 million, or $1.66 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains and to account for discontinued operations, came to 54 cents per share. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 48 cents per share.
The rehabilitation hospital operator said revenue rose 7.1 percent to $604.4 million from $564.5 million in the same quarter a year earlier, and beat Wall Street forecasts. Analysts expected $588.2 million, according to Zacks.
HealthSouth shares climbed $2.86, or 7.6 percent, to $40.50 in after-hours trading. The stock has increased $4.32, or 13 percent, to $37.64 since the beginning of the year and has risen 14 percent in the last 12 months.
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- The largest bank in Cyprus says it has bolstered its capital base by raising 1 billion euros ($1.34 billion) through a private placement of new shares.
Bank of Cyprus said in a statement late Monday that the new shares each valued at 0.24 euros ($0.32) went to institutional investors form Europe, North America and Russia.
It said that existing shareholders will get a chance to buy back up to 20 percent of those shares, but that the total capital raised would remain at 1 billion euros.
The bank said this will speed up its restructuring plans and help it pass European tests gauging its health this year.
Bank of Cyprus figured prominently in the country's multibillion-euro rescue last year that sanctioned a grab of uninsured deposits in its two biggest lenders.
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