Morning Business Memo:
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, two retailing giants are gearing up for same-day package delivery for goods purchased online. Walmart to Go is being test marketed in several cities across the country. The service was first rolled out in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.'s Virginia suburbs. Now it's set to expand to Minneapolis and then to parts of Northern California. Walmart's move comes weeks after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said his company is aiming for same-day delivery in major metropolitan regions. The moves are part of a growing rivalry between Walmart, the biggest brick and mortar retailer, and Amazon, the number one online firm. Last month Walmart announced it would no longer sell Kindle e-readers and tablets. Walmart to Go will cost $10 per shipment regardless of the size of the order, and has to be ordered before noon for delivery from a local store on the same day.
Let the train take the strain! Amtrak ridership hits a record high, and many big urban bus and subway systems continue to see an increase in riders. Amtrak says its trains carried 31.2 million passengers in the fiscal year ending in September, the highest annual ridership since the railroad was formed in 1971. The passenger railroad system said ridership grew 3.5 percent over the past 12 months, and ticket revenue jumped 6.8 percent to a best-ever $2.02 billion.
Hey we're number one! Americans can take pride in the results of a new study conducted by UBS analysts, highlighted by a chart in The Economist. The so-called beer affordability index reveals that, based on median hourly wages and average beer prices in 150 countries, it takes the typical employee on earth 20 minutes of work to pay for a beer. In the US, it takes the least amount of time of any nation - just five minutes of work - to be able to afford a favorite brew. There are countries with far cheaper beer. China, Romania, Nigeria, and Vietnam are among the countries where the average beer is under $1, compared to $1.80 here. But because average American hourly wages are much higher, US workers reach the beer payoff point sooner-more than five times faster than in India, where the median worker must put in nearly an hour on the job to buy a beer costing an average of $1.40.
Toyota has announced a huge recall for a relatively minor problem - a faulty power window switch. Over 7.4 million autos worldwide are being recalled. The giant car firm says the problem hasn't caused any accidents or injuries. The recall involves more than a dozen models produced from 2005 through 2010 including Camrys and Corollas. The power-window switch on the driver's side didn't have grease applied evenly during production, causing friction in the switch and sometimes smoke, according to Toyota. The automaker has been trying to fix its reputation after a series of massive recalls of 14 million vehicles over several years.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc