Early data show solid Black Friday
The holiday shopping season got off to a surprisingly solid start, according to data released Saturday by a research firm. But the sales boost came at the expense of profits as the nation's retailers had to slash prices to attract crowds in a season that is expected to be the weakest in decades. Sales the day after Thanksgiving rose 3 percent to $10.6-billion, according to preliminary figures from ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a Chicago-based firm that tracks sales at more than 50,000 retail outlets. The day after Thanksgiving is dubbed Black Friday because that is when retailers become profitable for the year.
Parents ask toymakers to ease sales pitch
In a season that inspires earnest letters about toys, one notable batch is being sent not by kids to Santa's workshop but by parents to the executive suites of real-world toymakers. The message: Please, in these days of economic angst, cut back on marketing your products directly to our children. The letter-writing initiative was launched by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which says roughly 1,400 of its members and supporters have contacted 24 leading toy companies and retailers to express concern about ads aimed at kids. The Toy Industry Association responded with a firm defense of current marketing practices, calling children a vital part of the gift selection process. "If children are not aware of what is new and available, how will they be able to tell their families what their preferences are?" an industry statement said.
Police review video of trampling death
Police are reviewing surveillance videos of a post-Thanksgiving shopper stampede that trampled a suburban Wal-Mart worker to death, but they acknowledge it may be difficult to bring criminal charges. Nassau County police and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said no new information was available Saturday on the employee's brutal death, which rattled shoppers even as they flocked to the Valley Stream store a day later. Police said the temporary worker, Jdimytai Damour, was mowed down as about 2,000 bargain-hunters surged into the store at Friday's 5 a.m. opening. Other workers were knocked to the ground as they tried to rescue Damour, and customers simply stepped over him and kept shopping even as the store announced it was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.