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kelly lindley
November 28

shoppers?

Thanksgiving Deal Hunt Draws Millions Away From Dinner in U.S.

Bloomberg


Terrance Martin, a 42-year-old truck driver, lined up at a Best Buy Co. store in Paramus, New Jersey, at 7 a.m. yesterday to score an almost $350 discount on a 50- inch Panasonic television.

“It was worth it for that kind of deal,” said Martin, who’s from nearby Fair Lawn. Even though he spent almost 10 hours waiting for the store to open, he didn’t miss the holiday entirely: His sister brought him turkey and yams.

Martin was one of the 25.6 million Americans that the National Retail Federation expected to hit the stores or shop online yesterday, drawn by stores offering discounts on holiday gifts earlier than ever. Millions more are projected to shop today through Sunday, kicking off a holiday season that the NRF forecasts will be the best in three years, helped by falling unemployment, rising wages and lower gas prices.

Shoppers seeking bargains yesterday had plenty of options. J.C. Penney Co. unlocked its doors at 5 p.m., compared with 8 p.m. in 2013. Macy’s Inc. and Target Corp. opened at 6 p.m., two hours earlier than last year.

“Being first is incredibly important,” said Pat Dermody, president of Retale, a mobile application that aggregates circulars from major retailers. “If you’re first, you’ve got customers who are full of spirit and full of cash.”

Many consumers already may have begun shopping as retailers experimented with spreading their deals throughout the week. Express Inc. began offering 50 percent off everything starting Nov. 25 through noon today, and Target rolled out pre-Black Friday deals of up to 60 percent off on some items.

Wal-Mart Deals

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is meting out its holiday bargains over the course of five days. The retailer’s “New Black Friday” event includes sales in stores and on Walmart.com that began at 12:01 a.m. yesterday and run through Cyber Monday.

“They took what was a small, compressed event and made a week out of it,” Rod Sides, who tracks retail for consulting firm Deloitte LLP in Charlotte, North Carolina, said in an interview. “Everybody used to have a battle strategy. Folks are not as focused on Black Friday as they once were.”

About 140 million people are expected to shop in stores and online yesterday through Sunday, about the same number as last year, according to the NRF, a Washington-based trade group. Retail sales in November and December may rise 4.1 percent this year, beating last year’s 3.1 percent gain, the organization said.

Discounting Frenzy

Sales already are getting a hand from consumer sentiment that’s the highest since before the recession, boosting confidence that the trend will continue through the holiday season. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, grew at a 2.2 percent annualized rate last quarter, exceeding estimates for a 1.8 percent improvement. The gain was spread across durable and non-durable goods.

Consumer spending also may be buoyed by gasoline dropping below $3, a psychological barrier that may help open up wallets, said Bob Drbul, a New York-based retail analyst at Nomura Securities International. The average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.81 earlier this week, the lowest level in four years, according to the automobile group AAA.

To capitalize on the extra spending money, retailers are trying to one-up each other. Wal-Mart will sell an RCA tablet for $29, DVDs for $1.96 and a 50-inch high-definition television for $218. Best Buy, meanwhile, will offer a 55-inch Samsung 4K television for $899, down from $1,400.

Not that the discounting frenzy is anything new, said Retale’s Dermody, who’s based in Chicago.

“I wouldn’t say, on a category basis, there are discounts that are outrageous this year compared to what they were last year,” she said.

Holiday shopping is key for retailers, with sales in November and December accounting for about 19 percent of annual revenue, according to the NRF. The term Black Friday is believed to derive from the myth that retailers didn’t become profitable until this day each year.

--With assistance from Lauren Coleman-Lochner in New York.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lindsey Rupp in New York at lrupp2@bloomberg.net; Craig Giammona in New York at cgiammona@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Orland at korland@bloomberg.net

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November 28

lights

Best Buy's website suffers Black Friday outage

CNBC

Best Buy (BBY)'s website came back online Friday morning, after an extended outage during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The company attributed the outage to heavy traffic.

"A concentrated spike in mobile traffic triggered issues that led us to shut down BestBuy.com in order to take proactive measures to restore full performance," Best Buy spokeswoman Amy von Walter said in a statement.

The site also experienced issues around 9 a.m. Thursday morning when CNBC tried to load it, and separate media reports noted that it was also down late Wednesday night.

Best Buy shares were up as much as 2.5 percent before reports began to circulate on Friday's outage; at 11 a.m. ET they were up slightly. (What's the stock doing now? Click here (BBY))

Best Buy declined to break out its traffic or sales data for Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

© Provided by CNBC

According to Adobe, Black Friday this year is expected to be the fastest-growing online sales day of the year, posting 30 percent growth. It's expected to rake in $2.48 billion.

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, Adobe said online sales on Thanksgiving Day rose 27 percent to $878 million.


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November 28

wow

$100,000 in cash found inside bag at California Burger King

Now that’s a Whopper! A Burger King employee found a back pack near a table and told the restaurant owner, who looked inside and saw stacks of cash. Then he called the cops. San Jose police are trying to find the owner of the money.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 6:09 PM

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He could have had it his way, but in the end, Altaf Chaus did the right thing.

The owner of a Burger King franchise in San Jose opened an abandoned bag at his fast-food eatery. And inside was a whopping pile of crisp $50 and $100 bills totaling $100,000.

The blue book bag had been sitting there for a while on Wednesday. Assistant manager Sahista Bakawla said she'd wiped down the store's table tops several times and kept seeing the back pack. She figured someone would come back for it, she told KG0-TV.

But they never did. So she picked it up and told her boss about it.


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November 28

another price to pay

Is Black Friday the Cheapest Shopping Day?

Cheapism
 
                                   black friday alternatives © flickr.com/robertbanh black friday alternatives

Every year, Black Friday kicks off a season of shopping mania, with steep discounts everywhere and anywhere. Consumers aim for big-time savings on all manner of goodies, from apparel and jewelry to toys, appliances, electronics, and more. This year, Macy's will open at 6pm on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year, as will the largest mall in western Michigan. With earlier opening times and even earlier retailer marketing blitzes, shoppers can expect long lines, huge crowds, and intense tugs-of-war over popular items.

Why put up with all this? The day after Christmas, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day present bargain-hunting opportunities galore -- without all the mayhem and hype.

Take it from an insider. "The best deals in my experience are right after Christmas and then again around 4th of July, when semi-annual sales typically mean taking an even bigger discount off already reduced merchandise to make room for the new season and new styles," explains Ashley, who worked at a national sporting goods chain for four years and preferred to just give her first name. "At these times we mark down all clearance an extra 25 percent, then 50 percent, and sometimes even 75 percent off the reduced price."

The Day After Christmas.

Numerous online sources name the day after Christmas as a propitious moment to snag seasonal discounts. With hefty sales on all things winter, anyone with storage space and energy can walk away with huge savings on next year's Christmas gifts. Enlighten Me reports that holiday-themed items are drastically reduced and the blog AttaGirl Says spotlights price cuts on holiday-themed items for the home, including mundane necessities such as tape, paper plates, plastic cups, and muffin tins. Additionally, the first two weeks of December -- before rising prices greet last-minute shoppers -- are prime days for frugal shopping.

A list of discounts and deals from post-Christmas 2013 posted by International Business Times offers an intimation of what to expect this year. If retailers follow the same pattern, prices will plummet: 50 percent storewide at Abercrombie & Fitch, 70 percent on sale items at H&M, and 75 percent off everything at Bath & Body Works, to cite just a few examples.

Labor Day and Memorial Day.

A survey conducted by the blog Shop It To Me found that Labor Day sales may actually trump Black Friday sales. Analysis of almost 700,000 discounts posted by more than 150 online retailers in 2011 showed Labor Day weekend price cuts on apparel and accessories averaged more than 48 percent compared with about 42 percent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The conclusions may be overstated, however. Some business journalists concede that Labor Day weekend is an excellent time to troll for bargains (think end-of-summer and back-to-school deals) but argue that the biggest site-wide discounts pop up on Black Friday.

Consumer Reports likewise touts the cut-price glories of Labor Day weekend shopping, but with a caveat: Sales are largely limited to home-related products, like mattresses, paint, and power tools.

Memorial Day holds its own in terms of winning bargains. Like Labor Day, sales on kitchenware, mattresses, and apparel abound. Outlet stores usually hold Memorial Day sales to kick off the summer season and clear out spring inventory. Deal News cites Memorial Day weekend as a low-price bonanza for hand tools and appliances. Large televisions, laptops, and other electronics are also the focus of rampant price slashing.

Independence Day.

America's birthday on July 4 is often celebrated with barbecues and relaxation and, of course, major markdowns on consumer goods like patio furniture and video game consoles. The holiday also marks the official start of summer-apparel clearance sales, as back-to-school and fall-fashion merchandise begins trickling in. U.S. New & World Report trumpets hard-to-beat deals on children's clothing, travel, and all the stuff needed for home repairs.

Shop Year-Round.

Whether you brave the masses on Black Friday or take the calmer route on other discount-heavy days, remember that retailers offer discounts and clearance prices year-round to move inventory. In the Herald Square shopping district in New York City's midtown Manhattan, for example, Banana Republic, Gap, and Anne Taylor Loft hold frequent sales on full-priced merchandise and Express offers an occasional 40 percent-off full price and clearance items.

If you like a particular brand, research its price-cut history before Black Friday to assess whether to spend now or wait. You can also subscribe to retailers' email lists and receive coupons on a fairly regular schedule. And if you love steep discounts, consider shopping on discount name-brand sites, such as 6pm.com, where you can sort items by the price-cut percentage.                         


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November 28

H of F

Longevity, icon status get toys into hall of fame

Associated Press
 
                                   Little green army men, Rubik's Cube, bubbles: FILE - This undated file photo provided by the National Toy Hall of Fame shows bubbles, little green army men and the Rubik’s Cube which were inducted as new additions to the National Toy Hall of Fame. The toys enter the Rochester museum after being selected by a panel of expert judges from among a dozen finalists. © AP Photo/National Toy Hall of Fame, File FILE - This undated file photo provided by the National Toy Hall of Fame shows bubbles, little green army men and the Rubik’s Cube which were inducted as new additions to the National Toy Hall of Fame…

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Before the holiday wish lists and mad buying rush each year comes a dose of nostalgia with the National Toy Hall of Fame's annual picks for enshrinement.

This year, bubbles, little green army men and the Rubik's Cube took their place alongside past winners including Monopoly and Silly Putty. But is the road to such playtime immortality really all fun and games?

According to the judges, well, yes.

Sure, there's occasional lobbying. The Hess gas station's Facebook page suggested this 50th anniversary year was the perfect time to include its toy truck, and Raggedy Ann fans in yarn wigs picketed for her inclusion in 2002.

But Hall of Fame judges say any real pressure is nostalgia driven, a matter of balancing head versus heart.

Take Star Wars action figures, which were on the ballot last year, said Jeff Gomez, chief executive at Starlight Runner Entertainment.

"What I have to do is separate a little bit from my own childhood and take a look and see if I could argue for them," the media consultant says. It turns out he could, because of the way the figures let children tell their own stories within the movie mythology. In they went.

Before making the ballot, toys first have to survive a panel of historians and curators at The Strong museum, where the 16-year-old hall of fame is housed. The group meets several times to choose 12 finalists from nominees that pour in online all year and via postcard and petition. The finalists are then sent to the 24 judges, who include inventors, educators, psychologists and others.

This year, 434 toys were nominated within 5,000 submissions.

Only toys with longevity, icon status and the ability to inspire kids are seriously considered. But that only narrows the list so much.

"There's always a give-and-take," says Chris Bensch, vice president for collections. This year, Bensch went in thinking electric football could be on the ballot.

"I have to say my colleagues rapidly disabused me that that was worth including this year," Bensch says. "It didn't have enough play value. It was all about chance. It hadn't been on the market long enough."

For this year's finalists, the panel came up with American Girl dolls, Fisher-Price Little People, Hess toy trucks, My Little Pony, Operation, paper airplanes, pots and pans, Slip 'N Slide, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the three winners.

"I try to pull back and look at the big picture — How much did this toy impact our culture, impact our country?" ESPN producer and judge Amy Rosenfeld says. "It's impossible not to apply your own personal experiences."

Some choices have stirred debate. Matchbox fans weren't happy with the enshrinement of Hot Wheels, Bensch says, and in a tongue-in-cheek rant, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart took the hall to task for inducting the stick and cardboard box before the ball.

Those unconventional nominees, like this year's pots and pans, always raise a few eyebrows.

But, Gomez notes, "Not all of us are well off and not all of us had the wonderful things we saw in TV commercials."

Toy analyst Chris Byrne says the hall of fame helps memorialize a place in the nation's culture but doesn't necessarily propel the toy onto kids' Christmas lists. The Rubik's Cube, while still well-known, had its heyday in the early 1980s, he notes.

"These are things that generations from now, people will say, 'What was that?'" he said. "It's a nice piece of cultural history."

                    


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November 28

good luck

Report: Ohio State football player missing

FOXSports
 

     © Provided by Fox Sports

According to the Columbus Dispatch, senior Ohio State football walk-on Kosta Karageorge was reported missing by his family on Thursday after not being heard from since leaving his apartment early Wednesday morning.

Karageorge is a 6-foot-5 defensive end for the Buckeyes and has also wrestled for three years. His sister Sophia said he was last seen at 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning at his apartment.

Also, according to the article, Karageorge had told his roommates he was leaving to take a walk. The Columbus police reportedly confirmed they are looking for him, and through the GPS in his phone were able to place the device at W. 3rd and Elmwood avenues near Grandview Heights, though they have not obtained it.

"He had some extenuating circumstances that night that lead us to believe he was upset," Sophia Karageorge said.

It is believed that Karageorge either walked to the location of his phone, or used public transportation.

"He did not take his motorcycle and he does not have his car on campus," his sister said. "So he was either picked up, went on foot or took public transportation. He does not have his wallet or any identification on him that we know of because his girlfriend has his wallet."

Karageorge, 22, was last seen wearing black sweatpants over his jeans, a black sweatshirt with FOC on it, a black beanie, and Timberland boots. He also recently shaved his head and has a short beard.

Karageorge was supposed to be one of the 24 seniors recognized before the final home game of the season on Saturday. He was not seen at practice yesterday, and did not come to practice this morning.

With any information on Karageorge's whereabouts call 614-747-1729


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November 28

No Good

Ex-players describe loose practices with painkillers by NFL trainers

The Washington Post


Nov 16, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; A general view of footballs with a salute to service logo prior to the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Denver Broncos at the Edward Jones Dome. © Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Nov 16, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; A general view of footballs with a salute to service logo prior to the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Denver Broncos at the Edward Jones Dome.

Former NFL linebacker Scott Fujita said he still has the pill bottle, nearly the size of a soda can. “It was the craziest big pill bottle you’ve ever seen,” he said. It was given to him by an NFL team physician to treat a single knee injury, yet it contained, he estimates, somewhere between 125 and 150 pills of Percocet, the addictive oxycodone-based painkiller. On another NFL team Fujita played for, he says, an assistant trainer passed out narcotic painkillers in unlabeled small manila envelopes before games to whoever raised a hand.

Ex-offensive lineman Rex Hadnot described the moment he joined a class action accusing NFL teams of misusing narcotics and other pain medications to keep players on the field despite injuries. It was the day a lawyer explained to him that the powerful anti-inflammatory Toradol should not be used for more than five days under Food and Drug Administration guidelines, at risk of kidney damage. By Hadnot’s estimate, medical staffs from four NFL teams gave him Toradol injections or Toradol pills virtually once a week — for nine years, from 2004 until he retired after the 2012 season, without explaining potential side effects.

© Provided by Washington Post

“Sometimes I got the shot and the pill,” he said.

Accounts such as these have spurred a federal investigation into NFL painkilling practices, which has grown to include interviews with NFL physicians, former players and even pharmacies that supply teams, according to law enforcement sources. The investigation was triggered by the class action lawsuit filed in federal court in May, in which more than 1,300 former players said NFL medical staffs routinely violated federal and state laws in plying them with powerful narcotics to mask injuries on game days. One law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it is ongoing, called material contained in the suit “compelling.”

Asked to respond to accounts of irregularities in handling prescription painkillers, the multiple NFL teams named in this story declined to comment because of “pending litigation.” League spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL couldn’t comment for the same reason, “but we are confident that our physicians understand their obligations under the law.”

Asked last year whether the league is satisfied its 32 teams are following federal drug laws, NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash told the Post: “Our goal is full compliance across the board. I think you have very substantial compliance across the board.”

The investigation is being led by one of the most aggressive and effective prosecutors in the country, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in concert with Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Bharara’s office would not comment about an ongoing investigation, but DEA spokesman Rusty Payne confirmed NFL physicians were being looked into after agents surprised at least five teams with spot checks of medical staffs at stadiums and airports following their Nov. 16 games. According to law enforcement sources, investigators are focused less on individuals than on a broad range of alleged illegal dispensation practices in the NFL, which may facilitate addictions, abuses and pill trafficking.

The investigation is being conducted by the civil side of the U.S. Attorney’s office and is characterized as “administrative,” but criminal charges are not out of the question “if major violations” are found, law enforcement sources said.

Two people familiar with the investigation said six former players have been interviewed, and the list is expected to grow. At least 100 of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit retired in the past five years, and a law enforcement official said investigators are focused on what they suspect to be current practices. Fujita and Hadnot retired in 2013 after playing for four teams apiece over their respective careers. Neither has spoken with federal investigators, but in interviews this week, each offered similar accounts of team practices with painkillers that would appear to violate federal law. While Hadnot is a plaintiff in the suit, Fujita is not.

‘What do you need?’

Both Hadnot and Fujita described athletic trainers distributing drugs to players while traveling — an apparent violation of federal law. Under the Controlled Substances Act, only properly licensed doctors and practitioners can dispense drugs and only in states where they are registered to practice. The act also contains strict requirements for acquiring, logging, storing, labeling and transporting drugs.

On Oct. 24, lawyers for the plaintiffs filed a discovery motion that included reference to a subpoena issued to CVS Pharmacy, seeking information about alleged irregularities in prescriptions filled for the Miami Dolphins “in the name of team trainer(s) as the ‘patient(s).’ ” A CVS corporate spokesperson declined to comment or furnish any additional information on the subpoena.

A 6-foot-2, 325-pound guard from Lufkin, Tex., Hadnot was drafted in the sixth round out of the University of Houston in 2004 by the Miami Dolphins. He went on to play for the Cleveland Browns (2008-2009), Arizona Cardinals (2010-2011) and San Diego Chargers (2010). While each franchise had varying team rules governing everything from player conduct to dress, he said the basic handling of prescription drugs was essentially the same.

“Different teams would have issues about how much apparel they’d want to give out, but with the prescription drugs, it was the same everywhere,” Hadnot said. “I was never told ‘No.’ ”

He got meds from doctors and trainers alike.

“I could get ’em from whomever,” he said. “Even trainers that were not the head trainers.”

He said trainers would ask, “What do you need?”

“Where I grew up, that’s a drug dealer’s question,” he said.

Meds were passed out on airplanes, Hadnot said, and even on a bus in Cleveland on a short road trip to Pittsburgh. “And alcohol was always around, and everybody knows it,” he said.

Asked to respond to the two player accounts of irregularities in how players received painkillers, a Cleveland Browns spokesperson said in an e-mail, “Similar allegations have been made against the league and denied as part of pending litigation. . . . Our medical staff prides themselves in taking great care of our players with their health and safety being of the utmost important and of course complying with the law while delivering that care.”

Fujita also spent time with the Browns but declined to name the medical staffers on specific teams who provided medications to him, except to say the incidents he described took place “within the last five years.” He entered the league in 2002, a fifth-round draft pick out of California Berkeley, and played for four teams over 12 seasons, spending the majority of his time with the New Orleans Saints (2006-2009) and the Browns (2010-2012).

When he received painkillers, Fujita said, it was often from a trainer, and sometimes it was a second assistant trainer or even a third assistant trainer. He recalled one team distributed prescription medication on airplanes on road trips “at 35,000 feet” before a game was played. A trainer would ask, “Who’s going to need something?” he said, and hands would go up. The trainer would then pass down the aisle and hand out small, 2-by-3 inch manila envelopes, unlabeled, Fujita said.

Playing through pain

In playing through dozens of injuries during his 11-year career — separated shoulders, torn muscles — Fujita estimated he was given prescription painkillers four to five days a week, in addition to Toradol on game day. He and teammates joked about trying to have a Drug-Free Wednesday. Yet he estimated that only “about one third” of what he was given wound up noted or logged in his medical records.

That mirrors Hadnot’s experience. Over the course of his career, Hadnot suffered four torn ligaments in his left knee alone and one in his right, as well as a torn labrum in his left shoulder and multiple neck stingers. He said meds helped him play through back spasms, sore hamstrings, high ankle sprains, wrist and elbow injuries and countless concussions. To do so, he would take “five to six prescription pills during the week and then have a shot and take pills in game day. And that’s not to mention the Tylenol.”

The pressure to perform, he said, “was dire.” He was only as good as his last game “and if the last game was a loss, you are expendable. When you put that pressure on people, they go to great lengths, and it was a trickle-down effect, even to the trainers and doctors.”

The Toradol made him feel relatively pain-free until the next day, when “I’d feel like I was drug through the street.” It was hard to get out of bed and walk down a flight of stairs or even pick up his small daughter, Kalyn. “She’d say, ‘Daddy can you carry me?’ I’d say ‘Sorry, baby, I cannot,’ ” he said.

Before 2010, he said, the line for Toradol shots on game day would be so long, with 20 to 25 players awaiting shots, “that you had to budget it into your game day.” He said no doctor explained the potential side effects of Toradol to him until around 2010 or 2011, when stories of Toradol overusage began appearing in the media. There were suddenly team meetings in which doctors informed players it carried risks and required them to sign for the shot on an iPad in the locker room. In 2011-12, the NFL Physician’s Society issued a set of recommendations that Toradol shouldn’t be used prophylactically, should be used only for a known injury and shouldn’t be used for more than five days.

Hadnot said by that point he already had been administered Toradol more than 100 times.

Hadnot retired before the 2013 season after visiting the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine for chronic pain in his left knee. As he sat in an office with his wife, a doctor told him that he had the knee of an elderly man in need of a joint replacement. He was 32.

Today, his body aches all day every day, and his fingertips go numb from his neck injuries. He gets headaches behind his eyes, and his vision is not what it should be. He still needs that knee replacement.

Asked whether he had felt especially uncomfortable with some of the things he put in his body as a player, he replied, “Looking back on it now? All of it.”

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