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Black Friday 2018: 7 tips to help you get the best deals

Ready your wallets, because Black Friday is right around the corner

>> Read more trending news 

With deals and discounts galore, shopping on one of the biggest sale days of the year can be overwhelming. But don’t fret. Here are a few tips to help you sift through the noise. 

>> On The best stores for discounted Black Friday shopping

1. Create a budget

Decide how much you want to spend. Once you set your budget, use only cash while you shop and leave your credit cards at home. That way you reduce impulse shopping and spend only what you have. 

2. Prioritize your shopping list

List your items by store and by order of importance. This will help you stay on track as you travel from store to store. Once you arrive at each shop, head to the department first to locate the item on your list.

3. Buy online

Not a fan of the big crowds? Whip out your laptop and score deals from your couch. In-store Black Friday bargains are generally also available online and on apps. Doorbusters, however, are only up for grabs in person. 

>> On All the Black Friday deals to catch in 2018

4. Be skeptical

Some of the reductions you find may be for outdated models. Also, some products may not actually be a steal. Beware of inflated discounts when retailers offer a steep rollback for an already overpriced item. 

5. Check for early and late deals

It’s common for people to hit the malls early. In fact, many deals start Wednesday. However, you may be able to take advantage of late bargains. Some discounts become available later in the day. 

6. Understand the return policy

The rules differ at each store. While some return policies are only valid for 30 days, other may not offer one at all. It’s also a good idea to grab gift receipts to make the exchange or return process easier. 

>> On Black Friday 2018: Target rolls out Black Friday ad 

7. Be nice

Be friendly to employees you encounter, and chat with people you’re waiting in line with. They both may able to help you spot additional bargains.

David’s Bridal files for bankruptcy: How it will impact brides

David’s Bridal has voluntarily filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the District of Delaware. 

The bridal retailer announced last week it reached an agreement with its senior noteholders and equity holders on the terms of a restructuring support agreement that will reduce the company’s debt by more than $400 million. The company said its 300 David’s Bridal stores and online marketplace will continue operating without disruption.

>> Read more trending news 

Orders will arrive on time and bridal appointments will not be impacted, according to Scott Key, chief executive officer of David’s Bridal. 

“For more than 60 years, David's has delivered beautiful, high-quality dresses and accessories for our customers' most special occasions, and the actions we are taking will enable us to build on that tradition,” Key said in a statement, according to CNBC. “Our team is laser focused on providing brides and their families with the five-star service and experience they deserve and have come to expect from us.”

“We are, and will continue to be, open for business,” Key said in a message to customers on the David’s Bridal website.

The company’s financial woes do not come as a surprise. David’s Bridal missed an interest payment on $270 million in unsecured notes in mid-October. The missed payment sets into motion a 30-day grace period with debtholders before the retailer is in default.

The retailer has struggled for the past year to reduce its debt while reporting weak operating performances. Analysts have predicted that the retailer could restructure its debt within six months.

It’s not the only bridal retailer to struggle due to industry disruption.

Bridal retailer Alfred Angelo abruptly closed its stores in 2017 without notice, leaving brides and wedding parties scrambling to pick up their dresses. The company had more than 60 stores across the U.S.

Christmas 2018: Rise in online shopping could lead to holiday shipping delays

Shoppers will want to purchase their holiday gifts earlier than usual this year, as a major jump in online holiday shopping could complicate the delivery system.

Target, Walmart and other retailers have started offering free two-day delivery with no minimum purchase amounts for the holidays, a move to compete with Amazon’s Prime delivery options. Upping the ante, Amazon announced that Prime members would have access to free same-day delivery on some products and everyone else would receive free standard delivery this season.

>> Read more trending news 

“Where things will get interesting is the amount of congestion it causes in the network, especially when you compare the ground versus express networks,” said Sri Sridhar, CEO of, one of the largest independent trackers of companies’ carrier packages.

While the service seems to all but guarantee timely delivery, experts say shoppers should still plan to purchase holiday gifts and send their packages early as an increase in online sales is likely to congest delivery networks.

That National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend about $720.89 billion this holiday season, up roughly 4.8 percent amid a healthy economy. That includes a 15 percent increase in e-commerce sales, as forecast by Adobe Analytics.

With the increased sales, United Parcel Service, FedEx and the United States Postal Service expect to handle a record number of packages this year.

While ground shipments typically have more volume, the major hike in free two-day shipments could lead to an increase in the number of delays among express shipments compared to the average holiday season, Sridhar said, reaching potentially 14 to 15 percent. Across all service types including standard shipping, about 15 to 23 percent of packages are usually delayed during the holidays.

“The easier technology makes it for consumers to shop; the sooner, the earlier, consumers really need to be willing to pick the gifts, order their gifts and be willing to accept the gifts. ... If they don’t do that, they just jeopardized being able to have the products they want delivered in time for Christmas,” said retail analyst Brittain Ladd.

>> On Kroger offering new way to order groceries

During the last several holiday seasons, delivery companies such as UPS, FedEx and the United States Postal Service have struggled to keep up with a growing number of online holiday sales. Consumers last year had major concerns as the second week of December 2017 rolled around and the delivery companies still had major delays after a record Cyber Monday.

And this year, they plan to have record years again, with UPS expecting to handle more than 800 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, up from 700 million last year and nearly double the peak of most normal delivery days, said spokeswoman Kim Krebs.

FedEx also plans to deliver a record number of packages this year, with the Mondays between Black Friday and Christmas expected to be the busiest in FedEx history, spokesman Jonathan Lyons said.

“The biggest challenge that shipping carriers face during the holiday season, they know the rush is coming and forecast that it’s going to be record volume again, but then it’s almost impossible for them to find temporary resources ... so there is going to be a crunch,” Sridhar said.

UPS plans to hire 100,000 seasonal employees to work at its facilities, some of which are new or expanded. FedEx also plans to hire 55,000 over the next several weeks while operating extended shifts and increasing hours for current employees.

>> On 5 ways your smartphone can enhance your shopping experience this holiday season

“The technology has simply made it easier to engage with retailers, but the supply chain, the logistics, the last-mile delivery, it doesn’t have an ability to become that much more efficient in that short period of a time. There’s only so many trucks; there’s only so many fulfillment centers, there’s only so many drivers,” Ladd said.

Retailers are exploring ways around the congested package carriers during the peak holiday season, including early Black Friday-like sales in the first days of November. The deals attempt to persuade consumers to shop early as a way to spread out the delivery congestion following the Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

They’re also experimenting with in-house delivery options and third parties like Shipt, Deliv and Instacart that primarily deliver groceries but could also handle general merchandise used for gifts.

And in the future, consumers can expect to hear about Christmas in February and March as retailers look to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine what consumers want for the holidays by July, which could eliminate inventory issues slowing down delivery, Ladd said.

“This is really an evolution; every year there is a change in technology, an improvement in the supply chain,” he said.

Amazon HQ2: New York, Virginia picked for additional headquarters

Amazon has chosen a pair of cities to build their second headquarters in, company officials confirmed Tuesday morning.

>> Read more trending news 

The company’s “HQ2” will be in both New York City and Arlington, Virginia. Officials also announced that Amazon will build a Center for Excellence in Nashville to serve the company’s operations business.

Between the three locations, Amazon officials said they expect to create more than 55,000 jobs.

Update 10:30 a.m. EST Nov. 13: Amazon’s planned Operations Center of Excellence will be based along the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville.

The company expects to invest more than $230 million in the center and create more than $1 billion in incremental tax revenue over the next 10 years.

“These are quality, high-paying jobs that will boost our economy, provide our workers with new opportunities, and show the rest of the world that Nashville is a premiere location for business investment,” Nashville Mayor David Briley said Tuesday in a statement.

The Operations Center of excellence will serve as Amazon’s Eastern U.S. regional hub for the technological and management functions of the company’s retail operations division.  

Update 10:15 a.m. EST Nov. 13: Amazon officials said the planned headquarters in Arlington, in the Washington D.C. metro area, will be located in National Landing, an urban community in northern Virginia.

“This is a big win for Virginia – I’m proud Amazon recognizes the tremendous assets the Commonwealth has to offer and plans to deepen its roots here,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday in a statement.  “Virginia put together a proposal for Amazon that we believe represents a new model of economic development for the 21st century, and I’m excited to say that our innovative approach was successful.”

The company’s New York headquarters will be in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan and the Upper East Side.

“With an average salary of $150,000 per year for the tens of thousands of new jobs Amazon is creating in Queens, economic opportunity and investment will flourish for the entire region,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday in a statement.

Officials expect to start hiring people for both locations next year.

Update 10 a.m. EST Nov. 13: “We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon said Tuesday in a statement. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come.”

Original report: The New York City and Washington, D.C., metro areas are splitting Amazon’s planned second headquarters projectaccording to a Wall Street Journal report Monday night. The official announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday, the media outlet said, citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter.”

Politico published a similar report early Tuesday, also citing unnamed sources.

The news outlets reported that the company has settled on New York’s Long Island City as well as Crystal City, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Losing dibs on the tech giant’s proposed HQ2 and a projected 50,000 jobs would be tough news for boosters in a host of other cities that tried to lure Amazon as it promised a major headquarters expansion beyond its Seattle base.

Amazon generated enormous attention with its very public call out last year for cities interested in landing the project.

Read more here.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

UPS Freight workers OK labor contract, avoid strike

UPS Freight workers voted in favor of approving a new labor contract over the weekend, avoiding the risk of a strike that could have affected shippers transporting goods around the country.

>> Read more trending news 

However, it’s possible the labor turmoil leading up to the contract vote could have a lasting impact on the company’s freight business and some of its workers.

During the days leading up to the Teamsters contract vote count on Sunday, Sandy Springs, Georgia-based UPS had stopped picking up shipments from freight customers to empty its network of freight by last Friday in case there was a strike.

UPS said Sunday evening it will resume normal freight operations “and will immediately begin accepting new volume from UPS Freight customers.”

UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara said workers will be called back to work “as we receive orders from our customers.” The number of workers called back to work will depend on the orders that come in, he said.

The Teamsters contract covers about 11,600 workers at UPS Freight, which trucks bulk shipments on pallets from shippers to stores and other locations.

It’s yet to be seen how much impact the temporary disruption had on UPS Freight’s business.

“We expect to bring as many workers as we need back to work based on the business needs,” Zaccara said. There is “a possibility” that number could be less than the previous workforce, he acknowledged.

The contract was approved with 77 percent of votes cast in favor, according to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The union said 84 percent of eligible members voted.

It was a second contract vote, after freight workers at UPS in early October voted down an initial proposed labor contract. More than 62 percent of votes cast then were against that agreement. The two sides returned to the bargaining table and wrapped up negotiations Oct. 25, with UPS making a last, best and final offer.

The union told its members that the offer did not address all issue raised by workers, but it was putting the labor agreement up for a vote without a recommendation for or against, “as the consequences of this decision are yours alone to make.”

UPS Freight workers had earlier voted to authorize a strike, and the Teamsters union told members that if the contract was voted down, a strike could start as early as Nov. 12.

As a result, UPS a week and a half ago told its freight customers to make alternative shipping arrangements because service could be disrupted.

“Because we do not have a guarantee against a work stoppage, we cannot afford to put our customers’ volume at risk of being stranded in our system,” UPS said when it was awaiting the contract vote results.

Kris Taylor, co-chair of the national UPS freight negotiating committee for the Teamsters, called that “an unprecedented action.”

He told members during a conference call Sunday evening that there would be a ramp-up period for the company to get freight back into its system.

After narrowly avoiding the risk of a strike, “there could be that impact of a customer saying, ‘Yeah, forget it, we’re not interested, we don’t want to be your customer anymore,’” said logistics analyst Cathy Roberson, who founded Logistics Trends & Insights in Atlanta. “At the same time, there may be some customers saying, ‘Oh great, you handled that wonderfully, so please take our freight.’”

Taylor told Teamsters members at UPS Freight that those who are not called back to work should file for unemployment compensation “just like any layoff.” He said other unionized freight companies are hiring, and UPS Freight workers who are not recalled within a week should apply for jobs at other companies.

“I am hopeful that the company will get back to full operations quickly. I expect, however, that there will be some lost customers. It’s unfortunate, but that is the boat we’re in,” Taylor said.

The labor deal approved Sunday includes some reductions in subcontracting -- a key issue for workers -- and would also improve some terms for pension and vacation benefits.

But some dissident groups within the Teamsters union were looking for bigger wage increases and more limits on subcontracting.

“Too many jobs in this company are subcontracted out,” said Ken Paff, national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a dissident group within the Teamsters. “And the wage increases, especially for the road drivers, were infinitesimal.”

The freight agreement approved Sunday is one part of a massive round of labor contracts in progress at UPS.

A much larger contract – covering about 240,000 UPS drivers, package sorters, loaders and others who handle small packages – failed to get a majority vote in favor, but was deemed ratified by the Teamsters union after low voter turnout.

However, local supplemental agreements for that larger contract remain to be negotiated. A Chicago local representing more than 10,000 Teamsters UPS workers is demanding better terms, raising the possibility of turmoil later this year if a contract is not reached.

Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits to be sold to NY firms

The southeastern United States regional fast-food chain Bojangles’ is being sold

Two groups, Durational Capital Management and the Jordan Company will acquire Bojangles’, according to a company press release

“Bojangles’ is an iconic brand with an authentic Southern heritage and a deeply loyal following,” Eric Sobotka, managing partner at Durational Capital Management, said in a statement. “We have admired the brand and its high quality and craveable food for years, and we look forward to partnering closely with the employees and franchisees to drive its future growth and continued success.”

>> Read more trending news 

Officials said the Bojangles’ board of directors unanimously approved the deal, but stockholders will still have a vote. 

“For the Bojangles’ family of employees, franchisees, and our customers, today's announcement represents an exciting next phase for this great brand. The new ownership group is committed to maintaining the qualities of this brand that have sustained it for over four decades,” Bojangles’ interim President and CEO Randy Kibler said. 

Bojangles’ said they will pay shareholders $16.10 a share. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. 

In the release, the company said Bojangles’ will continue to be based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Duncan Hines recalls some cake mixes over salmonella risk

Duncan Hines announced it is recalling several varieties of cake mix due to potential threat of salmonella contamination.

The company said the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a potential salmonella outbreak that may be linked to Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix.

>> Salmonella: Signs and symptoms of infection

Duncan Hines said it has voluntarily recalled the following products as a precaution because they were made during the same time period:

  • Classic White, UPC: 644209307500, and have a best if used by date of March 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 2019.
  • Classic Butter Golden, UPC: 644209307494, and have a best if used by date of March 9, 10, 12, 13, 2019.
  • Signature Confetti, UPC: 644209307593, and have a best if used by date of March 7, 8, 9, 2019.
  • Classic Yellow, UPC: 644209414550, and have a best if used by date of March 12, 13, 2019.

According to the recall notice on the FDA's website, five people so far have reported becoming sick after consuming the cake mix.

"Several of the individuals reported consuming a cake mix at some point prior to becoming ill, and some may have also consumed these products raw and not baked," read the statement on the FDA's website.

>> Read more trending news 

The FDA is also reminding consumers not to eat any raw batter.

Consumers who have purchased these items are advised not to consume them and to return them to the store where originally purchased.

If you have any questions about the recall, contact customer service at 888-299-7646 or visit the Duncan Hines website.

Amazon offers free shipping during holiday season

Amazon is offering free shipping on all orders this holiday season for U.S. customers beginning Nov. 5.

CNN reported Monday that the company is offering free shipping for a limited time only in an attempt to add Prime members and pump up sales. 

>> Read more trending news 

No minimum purchase is required. 

"With free shipping, your order will be delivered five to eight business days after all your items are available to ship, including pre-order items," according to Amazon's website

The company has not yet released an end date to this promotion.

Click here for more information.

Lowe's announces plans to close more than 50 stores in US, Canada

North Carolina-based Lowe’s announced Monday morning that it will be closing 20 stores across the country as well as an additional 31 stores in Canada.

The company, based in Mooresville, said the “wind-down” of certain underperforming store locations was part of its ongoing strategic reassessment.

>> On Click here for a full list of the stores that will close

Lowe’s said most of the impacted stores were located within 10 miles of another Lowe’s store, and that most workers at these stores will be extended opportunities to transition to a similar role at a nearby Lowe's store.

>> On New Lowe’s CEO hints at what’s to come for home-improvement retailer

>> On Lowe’s out, Ally in as main sponsor for NASCAR star

"While decisions that impact our associates are never easy, the store closures are a necessary step in our strategic reassessment as we focus on building a stronger business," said Marvin R. Ellison, Lowe's president and CEO. "We believe our people are the foundation of our business and essential to our future growth, and we are making every effort to transition impacted associates to nearby Lowe's stores."

>> Read more trending news 

Lowe's expects to close the impacted stores by the end of the company's 2018 fiscal year, which is Feb. 1, 2019.

The company intends to conduct store closing sales for most of the impacted locations with the exception of select stores in the U.S., which will close immediately.

5 ways new tech will change your holiday shopping experience this year

As technology advances and retail grows more competitive, the shopping experience is changing.

>> On Here’s how you can avoid long checkout lines this holiday season

Here are five ways technology could make your shopping experience quicker and easier:

1. Shipping options

Anticipating a 15 percent increase in online orders this year, several retailers have updated shipping standards for the season, including Target’s free two-day shipping on any orders regardless of price. Target is among many retailers picking up advance shipping services, a deal made famous when Amazon began offering it for Prime members.

2. Virtual reality for shopping

Kettering-based Marxent has developed virtual reality to help Macy’s customers visualize furniture within their homes. Beck Besecker, founder and CEO of Marxent, said a growing number of apps are also allowing shoppers to visualize products without ever having to step out the door.

>> On Want Toys “R” Us exclusive toys? Kroger will have them for the holidays

3. Virtual reality for training

Virtual reality is also being used to teach store workers how to handle crowds during the holiday. The technology, used at 198 Walmart training academies, including in West Chester Township, has helped Walmart develop new strategies to make holiday shopping more efficient.

4. Amazon Alexa devices

Amazon’s voice technology gives consumers the ability to purchase their items by simply asking an Alexa-enabled device to purchase an item, and Amazon will take care of the rest.

>> On Kohl’s debuts Black Friday ad with pre-sale

5. Mobile payment

Consumers who choose to brave the crowds at stores this holiday season can also expect a quicker trip, with new mobile checkout technology debuting in both Walmart and Target.

The mobile payment options are expected to keep customers from waiting in long checkout lines, with Walmart’s Check Out With Me and Target’s Skip-the-Line giving shoppers a chance to check out with store employees strategically placed in the busiest parts of stores throughout the holiday season.

>> Read more trending news 

“One of the things that we’ve seen over the course of the past few years is that customers are really wanting to get in and get out pretty quickly,” said Tim Mahan, the western Ohio e-commerce manager.

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