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Consumer News

  1. Four changes shoppers will see as they buy on their phones

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Shoppers buying on their phones this holiday season will see new ways stores are making it easier and faster as they try to lock in sales before people swipe to the next site.

    Mobile shopping accounted for $4.61 billion in sales from Thanksgiving through Monday, according to Adobe Digital Insights. Some 54 percent of visits to retailers' sites and 36 percent of sales for the five-day period came from phones and tablets. [Associated Press]
  2. Long-awaited cupcake ATM serving up sweetness in Hyde Park

    Retail

    TAMPA — For more than six months, the new sweet shop in Hyde Park Village was missing a key ingredient: Its signature cupcake ATM.

    A cupcake ATM is ready for buiness after weeks of delay at Sprinkles  in  Hyde Park Village. The machine can hold as many as 540 cupcakes at a cost of $4.55 apiece. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. With deals offered early, will shoppers buy on Cyber Monday?

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Cyber Monday may be in danger of losing its online sales title.

    Each year, during the busy holiday shopping weekend that kicks off on Thanksgiving and the Friday after, known as Black Friday, more and more shoppers decide to skip the mayhem in stores and shop online. [Associated Press]
  4. Black Friday's online shoppers beat the Cyber Monday rush

    Retail

    Holiday shoppers eager to snag big discounts turned to the internet in record fashion this week, one tracking company said, driving online sales on Black Friday to a new high.

    Sloan Dalley, of Pomona, Calif., gets excited as she finds one of the few remaining 55-inch Samsung televisions at a Best Buy  in Costa Mesa on Black Friday. Stores are trying to better cater to savvier shoppers, who are splitting their spending back and forth online and in stores. That was apparent on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as shoppers were careful about what deals they'd jump at and retailers pushed different ways to connect with customers. [Orange County Register via AP]
  5. Shop local on Small Business Saturday around Tampa Bay

    Retail

    If waiting in line and shoving through crowds on Black Friday isn't your thing, maybe try Small Business Saturday, a relatively new annual shopping day that falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

    Keep St. Pete Local is an independent business alliance in St. Petersburg that has more than 600 members. Many of the local stores hope to see a bump from Small Business Saturday. Photos courtesy of Keep St. Pete Local
  6. A relatively quiet Black Friday across Tampa Bay

    Retail

    The days of waiting in line at crazy, early morning hours for a chance to get a flat screen TV at a good price might be largely behind us.

    Brandon Powell, a 29-year-old from Riverview, browses figurines for sale at GameStop inside the Westfield Brandon Mall during Black Friday. Powell said he had already shopped for his big-ticket items the previous day, during Thanksgiving, and was now looking for a specific video game. "Round two, still awake," he said. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]
  7. Proino Breakfast Club, named 'Best of Largo,' has trail of money problems, records show

    Retail

    LARGO — A restaurant once voted "Best of Largo" and a magnet to the city's aspiring downtown is facing several lawsuits claiming the owner has missed rent payments and left thousands of dollars in debts unpaid.

    Proino Breakfast Club, in the center of the downtown redevelopment area, was voted “Best of Largo’’ in 2015.
  8. Meet the guy who was delivering groceries in Tampa Bay long before Shipt and Instacart arrived

    Retail

    Chris Fleming was delivering groceries from supermarkets like Publix in the Tampa Bay area long before companies like Instacart or Shipt showed up.

    Chris Fleming, seen here in Nature's Food Patch, has run a grocery delivery business in Tampa Bay way longer than Shipt and Instacart has been around. He often shops at Nature's Food Patch, a local grocery store in Clearwater that he partners with. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  9. Here are Thanksgiving and Black Friday store hours around Tampa Bay

    Retail

    Holiday season shopping makes up 19 percent of all annual retail-related sales for the year. While Black Friday sales have fallen flat for retailers in recent years and consumer confidence has yet to reach the level it was before the recession, analysts predict a brighter year for retail sales, with an average 3.6 to 4 …

    Customers search for the best Black Friday deals at the Westfield Countryside mall in Clearwater last year. ZACK WITTMAN   |   Times
  10. Hernando County residents encouraged to spend locally on Shop Small Saturday

    Retail

    Local business leaders are urging consumers to save some dollars for Shop Small Saturday, which targets shoppers who might be jumping into frenzied holiday gift-buying on Black Friday at area malls.

    Crystal Smith, owner of Shine Consulting in downtown Brooksville, has been promoting the Shop Small Saturday event with help from her dog, Wesson. Smith said she returned to her roots after leaving the corporate world and now provides small businesses with the marketing and branding that they need in order to stay competitive in today’s market.