Archive for December, 2009
Government regulators stepped in and shut down Rockbridge Commercial Bank of Atlanta this afternoon, making it the 134th bank closure this year and the 25th in Georgia. The FDIC could not find another bank to take it over, so depositors will be mailed a check. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $124.2 million.
I’ll update with new posts if there are any other bank closures today.
Waldenbooks at Bellis Fair mall (in the Macy’s wing) began its store closing sale with discounts of up to 40 percent off the list price on nearly everything. The Bellingham store is one of about 200 that Waldenbooks that are closing in January, according to a company announcement in November.
The Northwest Technology Alliance Group announced Mark Anderson will be giving his latest predictions next month in Bellingham. Details are in TAG’s press release:
BELLINGHAM, WA (December 17, 2009) - Mark Anderson, noted technology visionary, will enthrall the Whatcom County business and technology audience with his concise view of what’s to come; noon, January 15th, Syre Auditorium at Whatcom Community College, in Bellingham.
Mark Anderson is one of the most influential technology futurists in the nation. His long-running weekly newsletter, Strategic News Service (SNS), counts a stellar readership, including the likes of Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Mark regularly comments on CNN TV, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Wall Street Review and the New York Times. He writes the “Future In Review” technology column for Fortune magazine, and chairs the annual FiRE Conference and SNS Project Inkwell.
Meeting fee includes lunch. We recommend that you bring colleagues/clients/friends for what is sure to be a thought-provoking and insightful hour with a leading mind. As seating is limited we recommend advance registration – this event has sold out every year!
Date and Time: Friday, January 15, 2010, from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Location: Syre Auditorium, Whatcom Community College, 237 West Kellogg Road, Bellingham, WA 98226
Cost: TAG members and students $20.00; Non-members $30.00; 2-for-1 Bring a Friend Special $35.00
Register online at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/93052
Questions: Contact Anna Ehnmark at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-647-4220.
Northwest Collision at 2529 Meridian St. in Bellingham has filed for Ch. 7 bankruptcy. According to documents from the U.S. District court in Seattle, it had about $48,000 in assets and about $500,000 in liabilities with between 50 and 99 creditors at the time of the fiiling on Monday, Dec. 14. The business was started in 1967 by the Hansen family, then sold to Cory McDaniel in 2007, according to the company’s web site.
Below are the results from an American Express survery, indicating more consumers are shopping later into the season this year. For Whatcom County retailers, it appears we won’t get a repeat of last year’s pre-Christmas blizzards (weather forecast is for rain right up to Christmas Eve), so local residents should be able to get out and about for the last-minute shopping
NEW HOLIDAY SHOPPING SURVEY REVEALS CONSUMERS PLAN TO SHOP LATER AND PARTY INTO THE NEW YEAR
NEW YORK, December 14, 2009 — As the clock winds down on the final holiday shopping dash, a new survey from American Express reveals that 66 percent of consumers have yet to finish their holiday shopping and that holiday festivities will spur spending among partygoers in a variety of ways — from party primping expenses to purchasing hostess gifts.
The latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, the fourth in a monthly series, reports about consumers’ views on the economy, what they plan to spend on and what motivates them to spend or save. The research sample of 2,005 adults included the general U.S. population(1), as well as two subgroups — the affluent(2) and young professionals(3).
Less than a month away from Christmas, the majority of shoppers say they have yet to finish their holiday shopping. In fact, more than one-in-five (21%) will still be shopping for gifts the week leading into Christmas and a small but surprising four percent of consumers expect to be standing on checkout lines as late as Christmas Eve. However, according to the survey data, these consumers are not necessarily procrastinating; while some are in fact time-strapped (18%), many are practicing savvy shopping tactics, specifically:
Thirty-one percent are holding out for the best deals
Almost one in five consumers (19%) is still saving money for holiday gifts before they can purchase them
Eleven percent will wait to use their last paycheck
A staggering 10 percent of shoppers indicated that they are waiting for post-holiday sales to buy presents for those on their lists this year
Five percent of the general population, and 12 percent of young professionals, are holding out for an end-of-year bonus
Consumers who are expecting to spend more (32%) or the same (33%) in the next 30 days than in the previous 30 days will do so primarily on holiday gift purchases. They attribute the expected spending increase to:
Decreases in prices (22%)
Making trade-offs with other expenses (21%)
Having finally saved enough money to afford items (20%)
“It’s clear from this survey that there is still a lot of shopping and spending that will take place between now and end of year,” said Pamela Codispoti, American Express senior vice president and general manager, Cardmember Services. “The survey data shows that consumers will be spending on holiday gifts for loved ones and on celebrating with friends and family, but they are focused on doing that in very smart and savvy ways this year.”
Through New Year’s Eve, festivities will be in full swing. Seven in ten (69%) consumers plan to celebrate with friends or family and 90 percent intend to make purchases tied to these occasions. Specifically, among the affluents and young professionals group, an average of $750 and $470, respectively, will be spent on purchases related to holiday festivities such as food and spirits.
But, party prepping will also drive spending. More than one-fourth (27%) of the general population and 54 percent of young professionals intend to spend on primping themselves for these holiday gatherings.
Almost half (44%) of young professionals plan to buy a new outfit to wear to a holiday party.
Affluents and young professionals especially intend to put their best foot forward, with 24 percent and 31 percent, respectively, intending to get their nails or hair done.
With almost half (45%) of consumers planning to attend holiday parties, a token of appreciation for holiday hosts will be in order. Sixty-eight percent of partygoers expect to buy a hostess gift and spend on average $35; however, a sizeable 26 percent of partygoers plan to show up empty-handed.
Showing up without a hostess gift is fine with 21 percent of the general population, but young professionals want to receive a gift with only seven percent saying they don’t want anything.
The most popular gifts consumers usually receive from guests is food (43%) and beverages (38%) to serve at the party, which happen to be the top two choices for what people really want when hosting. Gifts for the home or kitchen also seem to be safe with 17 percent of consumers wanting them. However, once guests deviate to other items, they sometimes lean towards gifts that their hosts may not appreciate as much.
Don’t bring the sweets: More than one-fourth (26%) of gifts received by hosts fall into the category of chocolates, cookies and candies — but only eight percent of those opening their doors say that this is what they would most like to receive.
Let the host do their own decorating: Holiday gifts or decorations, such as ornaments, account for 14 percent of what hosts receive from their guests, yet a mere four percent name this as a gift they would most like to receive.
The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of consumers aged 18+. The research sample of 2,005 adults surveyed the general U.S. population, as well as two sub-groups — the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between November 25 and December 1, 2009. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.2 (or +/- 4.0 among affluent and +/- 4.3 among young professionals) percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. For access to previous American Express Spending & Saving Tracker results, please visit www.americanexpress.com/aboutus.
About American Express
American Express Company (www.americanexpress.com) is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.
November was a busy month for total property transactions in several Whatcom County communities, according to a new report.
Last month there were 166 property sales in Bellingham, more than double the 82 transactions in November 2008, according to data compile by First American Title of Bellingham. Total property sales include residential, commercial, industrial and undeveloped land.
In Ferndale, Lynden and Blaine, there were 153 property sales last month, compared to 105 in November 2008.
The most significant activity was in used single family home property. There were 111 sales of these homes in November in Bellingham, compared to 48 in November 2008. In the north county communities, there were 95 sales of used homes, up from 43 in November 2008. Last month’s commercial, industrial and multi-family property sales were down year-over-year in all four Whatcom County communities.
The increase in sales last month is having an impact on year-to-date totals. Through 11 months of 2009, total property sales are down 11 percent in Bellingham and 12.5 percent in Lynden, Ferndale and Blaine when compared to 2008. Earlier this year, the year-to-date totals were down more than 25 percent.
Here’s a blurb from Chain Store Age about what people say they are buying. For the full story, here is the (link):
Robust sales of electronics is a bright spot this holiday shopping season as consumers rush to cash in on bargains, especially on flat-panel TV sets, according to the Christmas Retail Survey conducted by America’s Research Group (ARG) and UBS.
In fact, for the first time in over 25 years, electronics are virtually tied with toys as the top Christmas gift item, the survey found. When asked to name the gift item they were buying most often, 30.0% of consumers this year said “electronics,” while 30.8% said “toys.” The same question received a very different answer last year with only 23.7% naming “electronics” and 33.8% “toys.”
Looking at the push by retailers, I’m hearing/seeing way more marketing of electronics, especially video games. That and fragrances; this is apparently the only time of year people buy that stuff, because I can’t remember it ever being advertised any other time.
Here are some interesting tidbits from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Association of Homebuilders:
The living space of new houses being built in the U.S. has increased from about 1,500 square feet 30 years ago to more than 2,200 square feet today. Now they are decreasing in size.
Last year, the midpoint size for new homes in the U.S. was 2,219 square feet, compared to 2,277 the previous year. In the second quarter of this year it was 2,019 square feet.
Two possible reasons are an increase in first-time buyers seeking a federal tax credit and empty-nester baby boomers looking for less maintenance.
The percentage of new houses with four bedrooms or more shrank slightly, from 41 percent in 2007 to 40 percent in 2008, while the number of new houses with two bedrooms edged up from 11 to 12 percent during the year. New houses with three-bedrooms held steady at 28 percent, according to the data.
The Bellingham clothing store Paris Texas has started a going-out-of business liquidation sale. The store has been in business since 2003 and is at 4 Prospect St., near Bayou on Bay. According to the large signs outside its storefront, the store is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during this sale.
After two months in the former Barron Heating building on Meridian Street, SpookShop Party & Costume is moving back into its warehouse facility on Marine Drive.
Co-owner Laurel Burke said they are in the process of moving this week. She said the space they moved into on Meridian was too large, and they got in too late in the Halloween season to generate much momentum to become a year-round store. The company will continue to have a retail area in its Marine Drive facility. It generates much of its sales through its Web site, SpookShop.com.