Economy Briefs: Survey says holiday shopping has record-setting weekend

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NEW YORK — There’s a saying that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But apparently you can if they’re holiday shoppers.

A survey released by the National Retail Federation on Sunday is showing that U.S. shoppers hit stores and websites at record numbers over the Thanksgiving weekend. They were attracted by stores’ efforts to make shopping easier for everyone, including opening Thanksgiving Day and expanding shipping and layaway options.

A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the four-day weekend starting Thanksgiving, according to the survey. That’s up 9.2 percent from a year ago. Americans spent more too: The average holiday shopper spent $423 over the entire weekend, up from $398.

Total spending over the four-day weekend totaled $59.1 billion, up $52.4 billion in 2011.

TRAVEL

Good weather makes for smooth holiday travel

SEATTLE — Travelers heading home after the long Thanksgiving weekend had another reason to be thankful Sunday: Favorable weather and few airport delays reported on what is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year.

Although there was little elbow room on packed buses, trains and airplanes, travel appeared to be running smoothly as millions of people trekked home after feasting with family and friends.

Analysts had predicted that travel this season would be up slightly from last year. According to AAA’s yearly Thanksgiving travel analysis, some 43.6 million Americans were expected to journey 50 miles or more from Wednesday to Sunday, and more of them were driving while fewer were flying.

MISSOURI

Corps cuts reservoir flow into drought-hurt rivers

ST. LOUIS — The Army Corps of Engineers has begun reducing the flow from a Missouri River reservoir, a move expected to worsen low-water conditions on the Mississippi River and potentially bring barge traffic to a halt within weeks.

The Missouri flows into the Mississippi around a bend just north of St. Louis. One result of this year’s drought, the worst in decades, has been a big drop in water levels on both rivers.

The corps announced earlier this month that it would reduce the outflow from the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D., to protect the upper Missouri River basin. That drew an outcry from political leaders and businesses downstream, who warned that allowing the Mississippi to drop more could have devastating economic consequences.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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