Business roundup: Holiday sales increase projected at 4 percent


Holiday sales in November and December were up 2.7 percent from 2012. (Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)
January 8
RETAIL
Sales up 2.7 percent
in holiday run-up

Holiday shoppers who put their purchases off until the last minute led a late surge in sales, according to data released Wednesday by ShopperTrak, a research firm.

Sales in November and ­December were up 2.7 percent from 2012, which was better than the firm’s projected increase of 2.4 percent. But foot traffic was down more than 14 percent from 2012.

The holiday season was marked by deep discounts from retailers who tried to drive shoppers into their stores in a short holiday period. There were six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than in 2012. ShopperTrak said Black Friday was the top sales day of the season, followed by two days during Christmas week.

The National Retail Federation’s official holiday projection estimates a sales increase of nearly 4 percent. Department store J.C. Penney said Wednesday that it was “pleased” with its performance during the holiday period but did not give specifics in a statement to its shareholders.

— Amrita Jayakumar

PATENTS
Apple, SamsungCEOs to mediate

Apple and Samsung Electronics have agreed to attend a mediation session to be held on or before Feb. 19 as they prepare to clash in court in March over smartphone patents.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Samsung chief executive Oh-Hyun Kwon will attend the session with in-house lawyers only, according to a Wednesday court filing. Their legal teams met Monday to “discuss settlement opportunities,” the filing read.

Neither company returned messages seeking comment.

The technology rivals are facing a March trial date in the United States over Apple’s claims that Samsung infringed its patents.

In the past two years, Apple and Samsung have gone to trial twice in San Jose, Calif., federal court, and juries have awarded Apple about $930 million.

— Reuters

ALSO IN BUSINESS

France’s data-protection watchdog, known as CNIL, fined Google $204,000 after the U.S. search engine ignored a three-month ultimatum to bring its practices on tracking and storing user information in line with French law. At issue was the new approach to user data that Google began in March 2012, in which it started combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and Google+. The Web giant gave users no means to opt out.

The Federal Reserve said consumers increased their borrowing by $12.3 billion in November to a seasonally adjusted $3.09 trillion. That is a record level and follows an October increase of $17.9 billion. Almost all of the November increase came from an $11.9 billion rise in borrowing for auto and student loans.

T-Mobile is trying to lure subscribers from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon by paying up to $350 per line to cover early termination fees for those who break their service contracts and switch to T-Mobile. The No. 4 wireless carrier also said it gained 1.6 million subscribers in the fourth quarter.

Angry Boeing machinists have filed eight unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging their union’s top leaders manipulated a recent vote to approve a Boeing contract and demanding that ballots be recast. The NLRB has launched an investigation into the charges, filed by individual members against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said Anne Pomerantz, a lawyer with the NLRB office in Seattle. The contract approval by 600 votes ensures that Boeing’s 777X jetliner will be built in the Seattle area.

Macy’s said it is cutting 2,500 jobs as part of a reorganization that will leave its workforce level at about 175,000. The company plans to close five stores and open eight others, leaving it with 844 stores nationwide. Macy’s says the moves will save it $100 million per year.

— From news services

Coming Today

8:30 a.m.: Weekly jobless claims released.

10 a.m.: Weekly mortgage rates released.

Earnings: Alcoa.

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