Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A little good news

Some of this data is a bit old but when looking for glimmers of hope in the US economy consider the following info:

* Travel on all roads and streets changed by +1.5% (3.7 billion vehicle miles) for September 2010 as compared with September 2009. This was before the latest spike in gas prices which might impact travel in Nov/Dec.

* The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index in October reached 100.7. This is the highest level for the index in over three years, since September 2007. This is really surprising to me and this is a volatile data series but people appear to be eating out with increasing frequency.

* Other trucking and rail traffic info has looked up recently however diesel deliveries have dipped which seems to conflict with this data.

Ah, the joys of being in Congress. Eighty percent of Americans say cut spending, just don't touch Social Security or Medicare. I think the President needs to pull a Ross Perot with some pie charts to show that you could cut spending all you want but if you don't raise some taxes and go after SS, Medicare and defense spending you're just shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

A list of the best and worst of Black Friday courtesy of dealnews.com

Jeers: To Crucial.com, for wonderful Black Friday specials that you couldn't buy because its site went down. The same jeers for Victoria's Secret, which was down for at least an hour. Kohl's and Fry's also had short outages.

Jeers: To Amazon waitlists, Amazon's $89 Kindle 2 (yeah right), Amazon Lightning Deals selling out in literally less than 30 seconds. Newegg.com and Walmart also had deals that were so "temporary," we wonder, what's the point? On Black Friday, these deals were a bigger tease than Justin Bieber walking by a barber shop.

Jeers: To stores that advertised sales starting online at midnight that didn't start until well after. We'll name Toys "R" Us and Walmart among the culprits.

Cheers: To the refurbished iPhone 4 for $99 from AT&T Wireless. Apple's refurbs are of the highest quality — usually indistinguishable from new — making this an unexpected stunner.
Cheers: To Apple, for putting the iPad on sale at 10% off. We predicted that the iPad would not be on sale, and boy, we loved being wrong.

Cheers: To 6pm.com for offering its first coupon discount ever on Black Friday.

Jeers: To sites that didn't live up to their advertised discounts and for discounts that didn't turn out to be worth very much. Like MacMall.com, for claiming up to $400 off Macs, yet the highest discount we could find was $200 off one particular system. Most deals were just $20 to $40 off. DeepDiscount.com was another offender, advertising a 25% off site-wide sale that quit working. iNetVideo.com offered 50% off shipping on orders over $45, which amounts to a massive savings of $1.50 on single item orders! And our least favorite offender: MegaMacs, which had 10% off shipping for every $100 spend, up to free shipping for orders over $1,000. Plus you got one featured item free with every purchase (one of the items was a single AAA battery).

Cheers: To Dell, for having the most HDTV deals on the planet (at least, the most we marked "Editors' Choice") on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Jeers: To Staples, for its handling of its $35 coupon snafu. A coupon code took $35 off everything on Staples.com costing $35 or more. Not surprisingly, this wasn't intended, and Staples canceled all orders "misusing" the coupon. That's understandable, but Staples deserves our jeers for its handling of the incident. First, Staples made the error on Black Friday, of all days. Second, Staples canceled the orders with a rote email and didn't offer any kind of make-good to the affected shoppers, many of whom passed on other Black Friday deals to buy from Staples.


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