First, this story about Groupon and its founder is pretty amazing: ["Groupon's $6 Billion Gambler"]. The article is especially interesting when you consider what the company has done in 2.5 years, in the middle of a recession that is hammering retail sales. That said, the key to its success was figuring out a way to offer consumers a deal for things they want. There have been other programs that have attempted this (it reminds me of the Radio Advertising Bureau half-off program, which is used successfully in some markets). This, however, is pretty incredible.
Keeping with the state of retail sales, there was another story in the print edition of the WSJ showing that sales at "dollar" stores was surging and taking away business from Walmart. I wasn't able to find it online, but there have been other articles looking at similar statistics.
Wondering why the employment situation is so bad? Well, a lot of companies are holding onto cash instead of hiring people and expanding their businesses: ["Companies Cling to Cash"]. The key sentence is the opening lines:
"Rather than pouring their money into building plants or hiring workers, nonfinancial companies in the U.S. were sitting on $1.93 trillion in cash and other liquid assets at the end of September, up from $1.8 trillion at the end of June, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. Cash accounted for 7.4% of the companies' total assets—the largest share since 1959."That's up $130 billion in three months. That's a lot of money. That's 2.6 million $50,000 a year jobs ... just on the increase in cash holdings, not even the rest of the billions ... Wow.
Lastly, a bit about the trick ... the shopping trick ... how retailers get you to buy stuff during the holiday season: ["Many Discounts, Few Deals"]. Take the interactive quiz and see how you make out [I got four out of five].