Morning Business Memo…
The four-day start to the holiday shopping season over Thanksgiving is a huge national event. Two-thirds of Americans went shipping and the spending was big, but it's still too early to declare the holiday shopping season a success for the retail industry. About 247 million people visited stores and websites, and shoppers spent an average of $423 during the holiday weekend, up 6 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The star performer was online shopping. Sales were up nearly 20 percent as many consumers stayed home rather than brave the crowds at the malls.
Thanksgiving evening shopping took a noticeable bite out of the traditional Black Friday start to the holiday shopping season. Retail technology company ShopperTrak finds consumers spent 1.8 percent less Friday than last year. Retailers including Sears, Target and Walmart got their deals rolling as early as 8 p.m. Thursday. Early promotions and early openings Thursday were declared a success by several big chains. But some retailers are worried about the four-day holiday hype. "I fear we are conditioning the customer to shop only on this one weekend," John Abt, co-owner an electronics retailer in Glenview, Ill., told the Wall Street Journal.
The holiday hoopla continues today with Cyber Monday. Some marketers say it should be re-titled Mobile Monday. More than ever consumers shop with their smartphones. "It seems to be, if anything, accelerating this rate of change," Doug Rose, senior vice president at QVC, says. He said the shopping channel started with TV then went online and is now going mobile. "We're seeing the rate of adoption of mobile devices actually surpassing the rate of growth in our early stages of e-commerce," he added. QVC and many brick-and-mortar retailers are targeting shoppers in their traditional way, online, and with apps. "Our customers seem to really enjoy using them all together," Rose tells ABC News Radio.
If the trash truck or bus rolling down your street seems a little quieter these days, you're not imagining things. It's probably running on natural gas. With cheaper natural gas prices and surging production, energy companies are trying to boost demand for natural gas buses, taxis, shuttles, delivery trucks and heavy-duty work vehicles. Fleet managers are taking notice, with waste haulers and transit agencies leading the way in converting to natural gas. Passenger cars could be next, but a shortage of natural gas fueling stations has restricted demand.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc