12 Days of Christmas Items Top $34000


PITTSBURGH — Lords a-leaping is the U.S. economy slow to recover!

The cost of 10 lords a-leaping increased 3 percent over last year, but nine of the other 12 gifts listed in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” stayed the same price as last year, according to the 32nd annual PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index released Monday.

The index is a whimsical way the Pittsburgh-based bank tracks inflation.

The set of gifts spelled out in the final verse of the song would cost $34,131 this year, or 0.6 percent more than the adjusted 2014 price of $33,933. PNC decided to adjust the historic prices of turtle doves and swans after realizing the prices quoted by vendors didn’t reflect the birds’ overall value on the open market over the years.

“The headline, I think, is that inflation in this economy, with the sort of tepid recovery we’ve seen, is almost nonexistent.

“The headline, I think, is that inflation in this economy, with the sort of tepid recovery we’ve seen, is almost nonexistent,” said Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer of PNC’s

Wall Street This Week Cyber Monday Fades, Retailers Report


From a ballyhooed but now ultimately hollow online shopping holiday to the leading bookseller hoping to turn the page for a new chapter, here are some of the things that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.

Monday — The Shopping Mall Is in Your Hand

The new trading week kicks off on Cyber Monday, but it’s not as if the online shopping holiday is the big deal that it used to be. Let’s dive into the date’s origin story. Cyber Monday was coined when frustrated Black Friday shoppers would return to work after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. They would go shopping online to begin checking off the gift items that they weren’t able to get over the weekend.

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A lot has changed since then. For starters, most people now have steady connectivity in the home and even on the go. Consumers also now trust the fulfillment abilities of e-tailers, so there’s little risk in waiting until deep into December to place an Internet order. Online retailers will naturally play

Stocks End Flat Ahead of Thanksgiving Holiday


NEW YORK — The major U.S. indexes were virtually unchanged Wednesday at the close of a quiet trading day with gains in health care and consumer stocks after data showed U.S. modest economic growth.

Trading volume was low as many market participants were away in the last session before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Markets will be closed Thursday and most of Friday afternoon.

The news this morning was a little better than worse, so the market went up.

“The news this morning was a little better than worse, so the market went up,” said Peter Costa, president of Empire Executions, citing mixed economic data.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 1.2 points, or 0.01 percent, to 17,813.39, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) lost 0.27 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,088.87 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 13.34 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,116.14.

Data showed claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected to 260,000 last week, while durable goods orders for October, excluding aircraft, increased 1.3 percent, far more than the 0.4 percent

5 Festivals Celebrated with Lights

People all around the world often say that India is the cultural capital of the world because of its festivals. Celebration seems like the way of life here because each and every month we have some kind of festivals ready to meet and greet friends and relatives. And gift hunting forms the most important part of these festivals. From searching Diwali sweets online to hunting the eid cakes online or surfing the latest trend in garments to deck up for the Dusshera – one is always busy for these festivals. But once you study the whole world, you would come to know, that there are many kind of unconventional festivals that are quite interesting to be a part of.

Let’s check some of the festivals whose main focus is lights.

  1. Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, Japan: This is a festival that you can call the brightest festival of Japan. Colorful balloon like floats are called nebutas and lights are kept inside them and a procession follows with Japanese folk and traditional music in the background. Aaomori is the place where this festival is held and a large number of spectators come to visit the show.

How Holiday Shopping Mania Led to Giving Tuesday

If you end up with a massive money hangover after the five-day holiday shopping mania that stretches from Thanksgiving Day through Black Friday to Cyber Monday, the antidote is Giving Tuesday.

The one-day charitable giving promotion — hashtag #GivingTuesday on social media — was launched in 2012 to galvanize people around a less gluttonous pursuit.

Since most charities generate the vast majority of their contributions at the end of the year, Giving Tuesday opened the door to a more organized effort on a specific day that any organization could step into. And it worked.

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While still in its early stages compared to its retail counterparts, Giving Tuesday has already produced spectacular results for many non-profits. That has led more than 30,000 organizations in 68 countries, from non-profits to corporations to governments, to participate. And the hashtag was mentioned more than 750,000 times on Twitter in 2014.

Reuters spoke with the founder of Giving Tuesday, Henry Timms, who is executive director of New York City’s 92nd Street Y (a prominent cultural and community center).

Q: Why do you think Giving Tuesday has caught on?

A: It speaks to the most American of values. America is the

Will You Be a Credit Card Fraud Victim This Holiday Season

Three letters may spell trouble for you in the frantic shopping season that is about to explode: CNP, which stands for Card Not Present. That — obviously — is how online merchants process payments (unlike, say, a local pizzeria, they never see or touch the plastic). And at least some experts are predicting an explosion in CNP over the holidays.

CNP fraud is going up three times faster than card present fraud, said Julie Conroy, a banking expert at consulting firm Aite Group.

That was expected, kind of — but the fast velocity of growth is much brisker than had been anticipated. And, said Conroy, expect to see still more: “We see steady growth for CNP fraud.”

The trigger event happened Oct. 1 when both merchants and card issuers were supposed to — by edict of MasterCard (MA) and Visa (V) — be ready for so-called EMV cards, aka chip cards. The plus of a chip card is that it dramatically cuts down on card counterfeiting. With mag stripe cards, card printers were plentiful and cheap, as was card stock. Anybody with a stolen credit card number could print out a new

Cyber Monday Sales Still on Top but Losing Some Luster

NEW YORK — Shoppers traded bricks for clicks Monday, flocking online to snap up “Cyber Monday” deals on everything from cashmere sweaters to Star Wars toys.

Now that shoppers are online all the time anyway, the 10-year-old shopping holiday has lost some of its luster as online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday pick up. But enough shoppers have been trained to look for “Cyber Monday” specific sales to ensure the holiday will still mean big bucks for retailers.

It’s too early for sales figures, but Monday is still expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever, likely racing up more than $3 billion in sales, according to comScore (SCOR). Adobe (ADBE), which tracks 200 million visitors to 4,500 retail websites, said $490 million had been spent online as of 10 a.m. Eastern time Monday, the latest data available. That’s 14 percent higher than a year ago.

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“A lot of people wait to see if deals are better on Cyber Monday,” said Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

New Yorker Anna Osgoodby was one of the many online shoppers who spread her purchases throughout the holiday shopping weekend. On Black Friday, she took advantage

Price Tracking Tools for Holiday Savings

This holiday season, many of us will be shopping online to find the best deals on holiday gifts, but online bargains can frequently fluctuate many times over the course of a day. Here are a few tools you can use to prevent you from overpaying.

First, when it comes to shopping on Amazon, the key to saving is to knowing a product’s price history. Sites like CamelCamelCamel show you how the price of the item has gone up or down over time. Simply paste the Amazon URL or product keyword and you’ll instantly see how prices have changed. And if you sign up for a free account, you can get alerts about when the perfect time to buy is.

Next, check out Invisible Hand for deals with some of the biggest web retailers. For deals with over 600 supported stores, simply download the web browser extension and Invisible Hand will discreetly notify you if the product you’re shopping for is available for less from another retailer. And, as an added bonus, Invisible hand works with hotels, rental-cars and flights, too.

Finally, for the browsing extension that can do it all, check out PriceZombie. This tool combines the best of the previously mentioned tools

Market Wrap Wall Street Falls With Health Consumer Shares

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks slipped Monday, led by declines in health and consumer shares, as investors braced for policy news from central banks.

The three major stock indexes posted a second straight month of gains, however, helped by financial shares, which were up 1.7 percent, while utilities were down 2.8 percent for the month.

Retail stocks were down on Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year. The S&P retail index was down 1 percent, while Target shares fell 1.3 percent to $72.50 after its website faced an outage due to heavy traffic.Understanding Stock Market IndexesStart Now »View all Courses

Shares of brick-and-mortar stores were down following Black Friday, including Walmart Stores (WMT), down 1.8 percent at $58.84, and Macy’s (M), down 2.3 percent at $39.08.

Sales on Cyber Monday, the busiest day of the year for internet shopping, were up 14 percent from a year earlier, according to data.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is due to address Congress on Thursday and give a speech on the economic outlook the day before.

While the U.S. central bank could raise interest rates in December for the first time since 2006, the European Central Bank is expected to unveil fresh monetary easing measures Thursday.


Will You Pay Amazon $299 a Year for Grocery Delivery

Having fresh groceries delivered to your door by Amazon.com (AMZN) is going to cost you a bit more now. The leading online retailer announced that most customers receiving AmazonFresh deliveries will have to pay $299 a year for a new PrimeFresh plan.

We’re not talking about folks placing an order for an 18-count box of Pringles or any of the other non-refrigerated edibles available through Amazon’s traditional storefront and delivery methods. AmazonFresh is a platform that the dot-com darling originally launched in Seattle a few years ago, offering home delivery of refrigerated, frozen and dry groceries. The groceries are delivered in totes with insulated coolers and frozen gel packs. AmazonFresh has expanded into New York City, Philadelphia and major California markets. Deliveries have been free for orders of $50 or more, but that’s now changing.

Amazon’s been testing tiered pricing in California, but AmazonFresh customers in Seattle, New York City, and Philly are now being told that they will need to pay $299 a year to continue to receive groceries at home. That’s a lot, but that also includes the traditional Amazon Prime subscription that costs $99 a year. In other words, AmazonFresh is effectively $200 a year for existing Prime shoppers.

FedEx Sees Record Holiday Shipments on Rising Retail Sales

Package delivery company FedEx (FDX) said Monday that it expects to see a record number of shipments during this year’s busy holiday season, driven by rising retail sales and a jump in e-commerce.

The Memphis-based company said it expects to handle 317 million shipments between Black Friday, traditionally the busiest U.S. shopping day of the year, and Christmas Eve, an increase of 12.4 percent over the previous year.

“Each year we face a challenge that’s greater and that’s driven by e-commerce,” Patrick Fitzgerald, FedEx senior vice president for integrated marketing and communications told Reuters. “We’ve learned that planning and preparation is key.”

The National Retail Federation has predicted retail sales in November and December — excluding automobiles, fuel and restaurant sales — will increase 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion after a 4.1 percent increase last year. The NRF said online retail sales could increase up to 8 percent, to as much as $105 billion.Timing Your SpendingStart Now »View all CoursesFedEx said that it expects to see three spikes in package volumes during peak season, on Cyber Monday and the first two Mondays in December. The company said its holiday projections are included in its full-year fiscal

Walmart Tweaks Discount Strategy for Holiday Season

Walmart Stores (WMT) said it would offer fewer “this weekend only” short-term deals during the holiday shopping season while discounting thousands of items for 90 days as it seeks to entice customers by being more consistent on pricing.

The retailer also said it was launching a new mobile application to reduce waiting times for in-store pickup of online orders as part of an effort to expand a service in which it believes it has an advantage over rivals, like Amazon.com (AMZN), which lack a bricks-and-mortar presence.

The moves were announced in a media briefing to outline its strategy for the November to December holiday shopping season, a crucial time for retailers during which they earn an outsized portion of their annual profits and sales.

We will not be beat on pricing this holiday. If we need to react we will.

The decision to offer fewer short-term discounts comes at a time when Walmart is seeking to burnish its reputation for low prices amid relentless competition online from Amazon.com, supermarkets and dollar stores. It said customers were frustrated by “gimmicks” and wanted more consistent pricing.

“We will not be beat on pricing this holiday,” said Steve Bratspies, chief

Feds Switch Plans, Save on Health Insurance

CHICAGO — “It pays to shop” is the message from the government, two days before the start of the third sign-up season under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

The Department of Health and Human Services released data Friday on next year’s prices in the insurance markets established by the law. Returning customers to HealthCare.gov can save, on average, $51 a month if they switch to the lowest-cost plan within their coverage level, according to the report. Most can find a plan for $100 a month or less, after financial help from a tax credit.

To hear the administration tell it, there are deals galore. But experts say the monthly premium is only part of the story. They say consumers should examine the quality and coverage of health plans, as well as their prices.

The price message appeals to young uninsured Americans and will be stressed in advertising and enrollment drives this season as the administration tries to find, woo and keep 10 million paying customers by this time next year, a modest target announced earlier.

Beyond the sticker price, consumers should keep an eye on what they will get for their premium dollars, experts said. Shoppers should consider how many hospitals and doctors

Amazon Boosts Holiday Hiring Signaling Shift in Retail Jobs

NEW YORK — Amazon (AMZN) plans to hire 100,000 people for the holidays, a 25 percent jump from last year that reveals a shift in the way we shop.

The online retailer said Tuesday that it will be hiring across the country for jobs in its fulfillment and sorting facilities. The Seattle company recently hired more than 25,000 people for regular, full-time positions. It hired 80,000 workers last year for the holidays.

Amazon stands out among retailers, with holiday hiring expected to remain largely unchanged, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

…holiday hiring is shifting away from stores and into the warehouses.

“It used to be that the bulk of holiday hires would be in customer-facing positions on the sales floor and behind the cash register, said CEO said John Challenger. “These extra workers would also help pick up the slack in the backroom, helping to receive and stock increased deliveries. Now, as more and more shopping is completed online, the holiday hiring is shifting away from stores and into the warehouses.”

A mixed hiring picture from retailers is emerging during a dicey period for the U.S.

Labor Department reported earlier this month that a

Walmart Other Retailers Speed Up Deliveries to Shoppers

Just in time for the winter holiday shopping season, Amazon (AMZN), Walmart (WMT), Macy’s (M) and other retailers are working behind the scenes to make sure they can deliver online orders to shoppers faster.

Retailers are building bigger warehouses — some the size of 20 football fields — to handle shipments. They’re also sending orders to shoppers directly from their stores and using sophisticated software that tells them the quickest, cheapest way to get orders shipped. And Amazon is cutting the time it takes to process an order from hours to minutes by using robots to pull items for shipment in its warehouses.

It’s a race for time by retailers as more people shop online. U.S. online sales are expected to increase 12 percent to $371 billion this year, accounting for 10 percent of overall retail sales, says Forrester Research. But as online shopping grows, so does the impatience of shoppers who want their orders fast.


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Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are trying to catch up to Amazon.com, which set the standard for speed with its two-day delivery for members of its Prime loyalty program who pay $99 a

Rebate Sites That Pay You for Shopping Online

If someone offered you a few pennies for every dollar you spent online, would you say “no” to the free money?

That would be silly, right? But that’s what you’re effectively doing every time you buy something online without going through a cash-back portal.

These websites receive a commission from merchants ranging from Amazon (AMZN) to Zales, and the websites pass some of it on to you when you purchase from partner merchants. A few dollars here and there might not sound like much, but it adds up — especially if you use it wisely by putting it toward an interest-earning investment or toward debt, for example.

You can also increase your return when shopping via a cash-back portal by paying with a cash-back or other type of rewards credit card. (Visit our Solutions Center for help finding a new or better rewards card.)

To take advantage of cash-back portals’ offers for free money, choose one (or more) and sign up. All of the portals listed below are free to join.

The next time you make an online purchase, visit the portal’s website first and click through to a retailer. (This step is critical to getting your cash back.) Then, make your purchase as you

How to Buy a Mattress for Less Online

Buying a mattress is generally an unpleasant experience, with the kind of high-pressure salesmanship associated with buying a used car. Comparison shopping is all but futile; many mattresses from different brands or lines are essentially the same inside.

Shoppers anxious to make a good investment — considering how much time they spend lying in bed and the importance of sleep for physical and mental health — can easily overspend. Certain Serta, Simmons and Royal-Pedic models cost upward of $4,000 and are hardly the fanciest available. Constant “blowout” sales offering 50 percent or more off the list price suggest substantial retailer markups.

By contrast, a growing number of online mattress sellers price their products under $1,000. They keep costs low by bypassing showrooms and commission-driven sales. The best ones offer high-quality products with free shipping, long test periods, free returns and 10-year warranties. Cheapism.com compared the offerings from six companies with predominantly 4- and 5-star ratings in online reviews.

The Mattresses. Boutique online retailers generally sell foam mattresses, often a combination of high-density polyurethane (memory) foam and latex foam. Casper, Tuft and Needle, Leesa and Yogabed take a one-mattress-fits-all approach and offer a single product in different sizes.

Mattresses from

Shoppers Beware of Store Credit Cards High Interest Rates

As the holiday shopping season commences, stores will ramp up offers for shoppers to obtain their credit cards. Retail store credit cards are often very alluring with lucrative discounts on purchases, but the hidden costs can outweigh the benefits.

Retail credit cards often carry high interest rates, which can quickly rise toward 30 percent. While the offers are tempting for consumers to chase special discounts, the higher interest rates pose a risk and can undo any savings if the balance isn’t paid off quickly enough, said Bruce McClary, spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization.

“Some stores are offering deeper discounts for those using store-branded credit cards,” he said. “The days of needing a different card for each store are long gone. Many bank-issued cards have fixed interest rates which are much lower than retail credit offers.”

High Interest Rates Increase Debt Levels

Many shoppers are faced with carrying a balance each month because of other existing debt, and store-branded credit cards charge a hefty average interest rate of 23.43 percent making this an uneconomical option, according to a new report by CreditCards.com, the Austin, Texas-based credit card comparison company. The report examined

Amazons a Better Fit for Clothing Shoppers Than You Think

Amazon has long been seen as a predator to brick-and-mortar stores, but operators in one category in particular may have thought they were in the clear. Clothing retailers assumed they’d have an easier time keeping consumers because they’d want to try on clothing before making a purchase.

Unfortunately for those retailers, it’s getting harder and harder to buy into that line of thought as Amazon’s apparel business continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and customers become more comfortable buying apparel and accessories online.

Amazon (AMZN) will sell about $16 billion in apparel this year, or about 5 percent of the U.S. apparel industry, according to Cowen analyst John Blackledge, and Blackledge predicts that percentage will rise to 14 percent by 2020. Following that trajectory would mean that Amazon would displace Macy’s (M) as the No. 1 U.S. apparel retailer by 2017.

But the belief that shoppers will be reluctant to buy clothes online still persists in some quarters.

At a conference in October, panelists were discussing innovations in retail and the connected store, when one speaker singled out clothing retailers.Timing Your SpendingStart Now »View all Courses”Retail is going to win out against Amazon because you’re

Can Amazon Prime Sign Up Half of US Households by 2020

Amazon.com (AMZN) is known for keeping quiet when it comes to numbers on its Prime membership program, but analysts certainly have high hopes for the subscription service.

Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities, recently told The New York Times that by 2020, he expected half of American households would be Prime members. He added that the prediction was conservative. By some estimates, Amazon Prime already reaches about a third of U.S. households.

In 2013, Amazon shared that it had “tens of millions” of Prime members worldwide, and at the end of 2014, the company said global Prime subscriptions were up 53 percent and North America subscriptions were up 50 percent. But beyond those teases, Amazon has remained tight-lipped.

When asked about Prime growth during the third-quarter conference call, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky merely said, “We are very happy with the growth, not only in participation, but also purchases and retention, and we had a very successful Prime Day in July that we’re really happy [about].”

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The Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimates that Amazon has reached 44 million U.S. Prime members, and according to analysts at