- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2018

There may be lingering annoyance over the midterm elections, and much of the news media remains at war with President Trump. But one force continues to put Americans in a buoyant mood — and that’s the economy at year’s end.

“Shoppers are expected to spend $1 trillion this holiday season. Most customers, especially millennials, plan to spend more this year than they have in previous years. They’re confident in the economy and want to make big purchases,” writes Forbes analyst Blake Morgan.

The trillion-dollar shopping phenomenon caps off a good year. Retail sales have increased by a “healthy” 5.6 percent in the last year according to the National Retail Federation — which says this bump is a sign of “ongoing consumer strength which is consistent with the state of the U.S. economy” — and predicts the “strong momentum” should continue.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence and engagement is soaring. From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, the organization estimates that 164 million bustling Americans will be shopping.

“Whether it’s heading to the stores after finishing their turkey or going online on Cyber Monday, consumers will be shopping all weekend. Retail is a vibrant, dynamic and competitive industry, but one thing is certain — consumers are the winners no matter which day or which way they shop,” says Matthew Shay, president of the industry group, which said the biggest jump in in-store sales this year was in building materials and supplies — which even outsold clothing. A telling finding.

TRAVEL DEAL TUESDAY

What follows Cyber Monday? A healthy economy has also spawned another opportunity: “Travel Deal Tuesday,” when major hotels and airlines offer interesting bargains. Hopper, the airfare booking app, now claims that the Tuesday following Thanksgiving offered the most deals on airfare all year according to Fortune magazine.

“Last year, we sent more deal notifications on Travel Deal Tuesday than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined,” Patrick Surry, Hopper’s chief data scientist told The New York Times.

MIKE LINDELL: PRO-LIFE MOVIE GUY

Mike Lindell — founder of the thriving My Pillow empire and now worth an estimated $300 million — has taken on a new role as a pro-life movie mogul.

He has invested $1 million into “Unplanned,” a new film from the makers of “God’s Not Dead” and “I Can Only Imagine,” two Christian films which made $61 million and $84 million, respectively, at the box office. Mr. Lindell plans to support other projects that “fit his own message,” according to Hollywood Reporter columnist Paul Bond.

“There’s a new film financier around town: the unapologetic Trump-loving, born-again Christian conservative founder of My Pillow,” writes Mr. Bond, noting that the new upcoming feature film was shot in secret due to its critical take on Planned Parenthood.

“Mr. Lindell also has a cameo in ‘Unplanned’ that’s sure to raise eyebrows in certain circles, as he is seen bulldozing a Planned Parenthood site to make way for the headquarters of an anti-abortion group called 40 Days for Life,” writes Mr. Bond.

“I’m pro-life and I’m happy to do it,” Mr. Lindell told him.

BERNIE HAS PLANS

A certain Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist has big plans for January.

“In the first week of the new Congress, I intend to re-introduce my legislation to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. It is not a radical, socialist idea to say that, when someone works 40 hours a week, that person shouldn’t live in poverty,” Sen. Bernard Sanders advises in a new voter outreach.

“With typical Sanders subtlety, his new legislative proposal is called the Stop Walmart Act,” notes an Investor’s Business Daily editorial.

“Big employers like Walmart would be banned from buying back shares in their own company unless they paid all their workers at least $15 an hour. They’d also have to cap CEO pay at 150 times the median employee pay, and provide seven days of paid sick leave,” the editorial explained.

Walmart has nothing whatsoever to apologize for. And it certainly has nothing to learn from Bernie Sanders about how to run a business. If Sanders really wants to help Walmart workers, two proven things work. Cut taxes and deregulate the economy. In the wake of the Trump tax cuts — which Sanders vehemently opposed — Walmart boosted its starting wage to $11 an hour, up from $9. It also handed out bonuses that started at $250 and climbed to $1,000 depending on years of service,” it added.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: Classic clapboard Colonial built in 1764 on four acres in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. Four bedrooms, three baths, “a showcase for 18th century woodwork”; 4,200 square feet. Carefully restored, completely updated, includes custom kitchen with antique stove and soapstone counters, formal dining and living rooms, multiple fireplaces. Professional office space with meeting room and waiting room, separate entrance. Immaculate parklike landscape, verandah, screened porch, sun deck. Priced at $495,000 through PetersonsRealEstate.com; find the home here.

POLL DU JOUR

49 percent of Americans believe that President Trump is a conservative; 68 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents, 48 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of “Trump voters” and 54 percent of “Clinton voters” agree.

13 percent overall believe Mr. Trump is a moderate; 16 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of independents, 8 percent of Democrats, 25 percent of Trump voters and 4 percent of Clinton voters agree.

7 percent overall believe Mr. Trump is a liberal; 6 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of independents, 8 percent of Democrats, 4 percent of Trump voters and 5 percent of Clinton voters agree.

31 percent overall are “unsure” of the president’s ideology; 10 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents, 36 percent of Democrats, 6 percent of Trump voters and 37 percent of Clinton voters agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 11-13 and released Monday.

• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin


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