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Economy Briefs: AAA says 33M Americans plan to travel over Labor Day
NEW YORK — Americans plan to hit the road this Labor Day weekend despite rising gas prices.
An estimated 33 million people will travel 50 miles or more, a 2.9 percent increase from last year, according to AAA, a federation of auto clubs. That’s the highest level of travel for Labor Day weekend since the start of the recession in late 2007.
A gallon of gas now costs an average of $3.72. That’s up about 40 cents from July 1, although still down 22 cents from the peak reached in early April. Experts say gas could rise to around $3.75 per gallon by the holiday weekend.
The overwhelming majority of travelers — 85 percent — plan to drive to their destination. Once there, they will find hotel rooms costing 4 percent to 6 percent higher than last year.
Families planning to get away plan to spend $749, according to an economic model done for AAA. That’s up from $702 last year.
Of those who plan to travel, 66 percent said their current financial situation would not negatively impact their Labor Day holiday weekend travel plans; 21 percent said they will cut costs in other parts of their budget; 9 percent will shorten their trip; and 4 percent will cut transportation costs.
USDA eyes whether tainted beef entered food supply
FRESNO, Calif. — Federal regulators who shut down a central California slaughterhouse after receiving an animal-welfare video were investigating Tuesday whether beef from sick cows reached the human food supply.
The video appears to show workers bungling the slaughter of cows struggling to walk and even stand. Under federal regulations, sick animals cannot be slaughtered for human consumption.
The investigation will determine whether sick cows were slaughtered and whether meat products from the company should be recalled, said Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.
The agency suspended operations Monday at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford after receiving the video Friday from the animal-welfare group Compassion Over Killing. The footage shows animals bleeding and thrashing after being repeatedly shot in the head with a pneumatic gun in unsuccessful efforts to render them unconscious for slaughter.
Federal regulations say that to avoid unnecessary suffering during slaughter, animals must be rendered unconscious by a single shot to the head from a pneumatic gun that fires a bolt through the skull to pierce the brain.
Barnes & Noble sees’Fifty Shades’ of green
NEW YORK — Barnes & Noble’s fiscal first quarter was a tale of modern and traditional. Tech-savvy readers snapped up its e-books and other digital content during the period, while traditionalists headed to its bookstores for the popular “Fifty Shades of Grey” series and other items.
The double dose of good news, coupled with cost-control efforts and lower expenses, helped the New York company’s loss narrow while its revenues rose.
Weak sales of its Nook e-readers and an unchanged full-year outlook may have given investors pause. They sent its shares down more than 3 percent in morning trading.
Barnes & Noble Inc., the largest traditional U.S. bookseller, faces tough competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com and discount stores as consumers increasingly move away from traditional books in favor of electronic books. These factors have pushed the chain to invest heavily in its Nook e-reader and e-books, with digital content playing a key role in its success last quarter.
Barnes & Noble also had the added bonus of riding the buzz of “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James, the publishing phenomenon that has drawn legions of readers into bookstores.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
By John R. Bolton
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