Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday Must Read: Record Holiday Sales Continue; Craigslist Scam Hits East Bay

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 7:10 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. This year’s record-breaking holiday shopping season is not over, as consumers continue to flock to stores this week, searching for deals, AP reports. Total consumer spending this holiday season jumped 5.5 percent over last year, the biggest increase since 2006, according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse. Total spending also topped $584 billion, surpassing the 2007 record of $566 billion. It should be a big boost to the American economy since consumer spending represents about 70 percent of US economic activity.

2. A record-breaking number of consumers also are using their smartphones to shop, the Mercury News reports. During the shopping season’s final weekend, PayPal reported a 279 percent jump in the number of purchases made through smartphones and other electronic devices. Overall, online shopping also appears to have smashed records this year. Amazon.com reported that on its top selling day, consumers purchased 13.7 million items, shattering its previous record of 9.5 million. The retailer also said its Kindle has become its single biggest all-time seller, passing the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

3. Oakland police, however, are warning consumers to be careful about buying a used car on Craigslist right now, because of a robbery scam, the Trib reports. Unsuspecting consumers are being led to residential areas, such as the city’s Rockridge and Dimond districts, to purchase cars, only to be robbed at gunpoint. Some of the robberies also have turned violent, police say.

4. Richmond police, meanwhile, are reporting a significant drop in violent crime this year, much like other cities, including Oakland, the CoCo Times reports. Homicides in Richmond are down more than 50 percent, plunging from 44 at this time last year to 21 this year.

5. The CHP also is reporting that the number of drunken driving deaths this holiday weekend plummeted substantially this year compared to 2009, the Chron reports. Only four people died in drunk driving crashes in California this year, and none in the Bay Area, compared to 22 last year statewide. The number of people arrested on suspicion of DUI also dropped significantly from last year, declining from 1,104 to 658 — notwithstanding the arrest last week in Oakland of Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente on Interstate 580.

6. A state appellate court has extended its ban on the sale of state buildings, including one in Oakland, until at least Monday when Jerry Brown is sworn-in as governor, the Chron reports. Opponents of the sale say it's a giveaway of public funds. Brown has said he will take another look at the proposed deal after he becomes governor.

7. Tesla’s once soaring stock has plunged back to earth, dropping 22 percent in recent days, the Mercury News reports. The decline was mostly due to a pessimistic report on the Bay Area electric car company by an industry analyst who thinks Tesla will have a tough time competing with large auto makers, particularly those that produce plug-in hybrids.

8. And Facebook’s “enterprise value” is now a staggering $41.2 billion, surpassing eBay and Yahoo, the Merc reports, citing a new Nyppex analysis. Twitter’s “enterprise value” is $2.1 billion.

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