By George Stalk (MCT)
Economic soothsayers are closely watching 2006 holiday sales figures to gauge the strength of the economy.
But sales are not the only figure experts should be watching. They also should be looking at the amount of goods returned for refunds. This figure has been growing rapidly in recent years and is eating significantly into companies' profits.
Retailing experts are predicting approximately $457 billion in holiday sales this year, a respectable 5 percent to 6 percent increase over 2005. In addition to gift cards, which are expected to account for $24.8 billion in total sales, other popular purchases will include toys and games, consumer electronics, greeting cards, clothing, candy, appliances, home-care products and jewelry. Many of these gifts will be returned.
Posted by courier at 11:48 AM. Filed under: News
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By Karen Heller
The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)
There are precisely three places left in Philadelphia where you can buy panty hose, the kind that comes in decent hues, as opposed to "Dijon Mustard," and doesn't feel like Brillo coiled around one's thighs.
Panty hose is a vast conspiracy to keep its wearers subservient to Lycra, and somewhere, someone knows precisely how to fix the crisis but has the solution stashed in a safe-deposit box. I always picture him living somewhere in the Detroit suburbs, but that's just me.
Anyway, I go to one of those emporiums to buy panty hose, wait in an interminable queue that resembles a Soviet-bloc breadline but, you know, without the joy. When I'm finally granted an audience with the lone salesclerk, who's extending all the helpfulness of Princess Stephanie of Monaco, she starts yelling, "Marie! Marie! It's time for my lunch break!"
This is what passes for service in America.
Posted by courier at 09:34 AM. Filed under: Opinion
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Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867–May 25, 1919), was an African American philanthropist and tycoon. She was the first American woman of any race to become a "self-made" millionaire.
Born Sarah Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana, the first member of her family born free, she was raised on farms there and in Mississippi and started out by picking cotton on a plantation. She was orphaned at age seven, married at age fourteen (to a man named Moses McWilliams) and widowed at twenty, at which point she moved to St. Louis, joining her brothers. Sarah worked as a laundress for as little as a dollar and a half a day, but she was able to save enough to educate her daughter.
Listen to author A'lelia Bundles discuss her book,On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, streaming in RealAudio format, free from National Public Radio.
Posted by courier at 12:03 AM. Filed under: In Quotes
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