<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Business News - Money, Financial & Corporate News]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/business http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Mon, 08 Feb 2016 13:19:33 -0600 Mon, 08 Feb 2016 13:19:33 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[McDonald's Customers Say Mozzarella Sticks Came Without Cheese]]> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 11:09:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/172*120/CYWF3ypUAAAfAav.jpg

McDonald’s customers have taken to social media after finding their mozzarella sticks came without cheese.

Twitter users blasted the company with photos confirming the cheese was missing.

"My girl got mozzarella sticks from McDonald's and they gave her them with no cheese @McDonalds y'all slacking," wrote @AntoineFulton.

"@McDonalds I just bought your mozzarella sticks and not one of the three had cheese in the middle. This is pathetic," said @piercenick5.

The company responded to the cheese controversy in a statement to NBC Chicago, explaining that the cheese possibly melted out of the sticks during the cooking process.

"We are aware of a low volume of guest concerns about our Mozzarella Cheese Sticks," spokeswoman Lisa McComb said in an emailed statement. "In these instances, we believe the cheese melted out during the baking process in our kitchens and shouldn't have been served. We apologize to any customers who may have been affected. We are working to fix this in our restaurants."

The Oak Brook-based chain announced its plans to add the snacks to its menus late last year. 

More recently, the company announced it will start offering an expanded all-day breakfast menu that adds McGriddle and biscuit sandwiches in 72 restaurants in Tulsa, Oklahoma.



Photo Credit: @piercenick5/Twitter
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<![CDATA[FCC Proposes New Competition to Set-Top TV Box Market]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 13:50:29 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CableBox-AP_070531053315.jpg

The Federal Communications Commission may open up competition for cable and satellite TV companies, NBC News reported.

The FCC proposed regulation Wednesday to allow consumers to get services through devices like tablets instead of pay-TV boxes.

Americans spent almost $20 billion — an average of $231 a year — a year to lease pay-TV boxes, according to the FCC. Rental fees have jumped 185 percent since 1994, while the price of TVs, computers and cellphones has gone down by 90 percent.

The FCC said a competitive marketplace is required by a 1996 law. The regulation will be voted on Feb. 18. 



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Tax Changes Ahead For 2016]]> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 17:14:51 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_taxchanges0122_1500x845.jpg Filing your taxes this year will be different than years past. For starters, you're going to have four extra days to file this year. The deadline's been moved to April 18th. Watch for all the changes to filing taxes that you should know about this year.]]> <![CDATA[Moto Restaurant Sold to Alinea Group ]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 17:46:04 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/192*120/150415-homaro-cantu-1145a_061dd30400f9b5a04d3686c45b11962b.jpg

Moto Restaurant has been bought by the Alinea group months after Chef Homaro Cantu, the restaurant’s creator, passed away.

Cantu’s wife and current owner of Moto Restaurant, Katie McGowan, wrote in a statement Friday that the restaurant came to an agreement to sell Moto to the Alinea Group, calling it a “bittersweet decision” that “comes after deep reflection of the lasting impact” Cantu made with the restaurant.

“Looking to the future, I am pleased to have come to an agreement with Nick Kokonas, Grant Achatz and the Alinea Group,” McGowan said. “I am inspired by their innovation and pioneering spirit, and wish them all the best with their new project. I can’t wait to see their vision and thank them for taking over the space as I begin a new chapter.”

Cantu was the founder of Cantu Designs, a revolutionary food technology design firm, and executive chef of Moto, one of the nation's leading restaurants in the field of molecular gastronomy.
He worked with famed chef Charlie Trotter from 1999 to 2003 before helping to open Moto in 2004 and later becoming its owner. Moto earned one Michelin star in 2014.

“A true visionary, Homaro fused his love of food with his genius for science, and forever changed the landscape of modern dining when he opened Moto twelve years ago,” McGowan said.
“Fervent about revolutionizing how, where and what we eat, he brought new possibilities to light in a way that challenged traditional thinking and inspired conversation worldwide about the future of food. Moto was the wellspring of this passion.”

Cantu was found hanged in a building in the 4400 block of West Montrose Avenue in April last year. His death was ruled a suicide.

Moto’s final day of service will be Feb. 14, McGowan said.
 



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Stocks Post First Positive Week of the Year]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 15:19:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_757203335586.jpg

U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, marking the first positive week in 2016, thanks to a recovery in oil prices, CNBC reported.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed higher, with gains from energy leading all sectors higher. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial average closed about 210 points higher. The Dow gained more than 250 points earlier.

Oil closed just above $33 a barrel after hitting multiyear lows this week. 

"I think it's all about oil today," said Chris Gaffney, president at EverBank World Markets. "We were able to continue a rally in oil or at least have oil stop falling and come back up a bit. That's got equity investors dipping their toes in the market again.”



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[DISH Could Face Up to $24 BIllion in Fines for Calls]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 14:55:22 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DishNetwork-496014842.jpg

DISH Network Corp. could face up to $24 billion in fines for violating national Do-Not-Call registry laws, NBC News reported.

The company is on trial in Illinois, where a U.S. district court judge is hearing the case without a jury.

A number of state attorneys general joined the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission in a 2009 lawsuit, accusing DISH of being responsible for more than 57 million unwanted telemarketing calls.

The lawsuit claims DISH and its vendors violated various state statutes by hiring third-party vendors who called numbers on the Do-Not-Call registry list.

Violations that took place before February 2009 could lead to $11,000 in fines per violation. Anything after that date could cost up to $16,000 per violation. 



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Customers on Old Netflix HD Plan Expect to Pay More]]> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 13:20:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-124755248.jpg

Longtime Netflix customer? You could get hit with a $2 increase in your monthly bill.

On Tuesday, the company revealed in its quarterly earnings report that customers streaming under the grandfathered $7.99 HD plan will face a choice: either pay the same price for standard definition, or pay $9.99 to continue watching in HD.

Netflix raised the price of its HD plan to $9.99 for new customers back in October 2015.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Netflix]]>
<![CDATA[$martMoney]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 08:08:56 -0600 ]]> <![CDATA[10 Most In-Demand Jobs in Chicago for 2016: Report]]> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 13:01:13 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/jobs+employment+generic+newspaper.jpg

If you’re looking for a new job this year you might want to consider getting into the health care and tech industries.

According to a new report from Crain’s Chicago Business, demand and pay are up for 10 professions in the Chicago area and the trending industries on the list are health care and tech.

The list ranked the 10 most in-demand Chicago jobs in 2016 that pay $60,000 or more. The ranking used data on growth projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics and interviews from local staffing professionals.

According to the list, industrial organizational psychologists are set to see the biggest growth in the next decade, jumping 53 percent. With salaries ranging from $83,500 to $112,300, experienced psychologists working with corporations will be a prominent field in the coming years.

Also projected to grow significantly in the next 10 years are openings for diagnostic medical sonographers. With the potential to earn into the low figures, sonographers are expected to see growth of up to 46 percent.

Here’s the full list of most in-demand Chicago jobs, and their salaries, according to Crain’s:

1. Java Developer
Projected Growth: 17 percent
Median Salary: $98,000
What they do: Write programs used by mobile devices, websites and mainframes.

2. Information Security Analyst
Projected Growth: 18 percent
Median Salary: $89,000
What they do: Plan security measures to protect companies from cyberattacks. Monitor an organization’s computer networks and system, manage software installations and expose any potential hacking weaknesses.

3. Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Projected Growth: 22 percent
Median Salary: $97,300
What they do: Make sure a company’s pharmaceutical products meet federal regulations and laws.

4. Biomedical Engineer
Projected Growth: 23 percent
Median Salary: $87,000
What they do: Apply engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes.

5. Orthotist/Prosthetist
Projected Growth: 23 percent
Median Salary: $60,000
What they do: Design and fit prosthetic limbs for patients.

6. Occupational Therapist
Projected Growth: 27 percent
Median Salary: $78,800
What they do: Treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.

7. Audiologist
Projected Growth: 29 percent
Median Salary: $73,000
What they do: Identifying and assessing hearing loss and balance problems for patients and fitting them with hearing aids.

8. Genetic Counselor
Projected Growth: 29 percent
Median Salary: $74,000
What they do: Use family and medical histories to assess a patient’s chance of disease and assist with testing, prevention, counseling and management of patients with such diseases.

9. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Projected Growth: 46 percent
Median Salary: $62,500
What they do: Healthcare workers who perform diagnostic medical sonography, or ultrasound. Though often associated with pregnancies, sonographers use sound waves to generate images that can be used for assessing and diagnosing medical conditions.

10. Industrial Organizational Psychologist
Projected Growth: 53 percent
Median Salary: $83,500-$112,300
What they do: Use psychological principles for business and organizational issues. The can assist in hiring and training employees, determining suitability for leadership roles and assisting with work performance enhancement.
 

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<![CDATA[Dow Closes Down Nearly 400: What Should You Do?]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 19:04:36 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/503901314.jpg

It was an opening day many hoped would be followed with a strong rally, but the stock market’s rough start to the New Year continued Friday, causing mixed reviews for many Chicagoans.

U.S. stocks took a heavy loss ahead of the long weekend and the onslaught of earnings season, closing down 392 points, though the Dow Jones came well off session lows in afternoon trading. The loss comes ahead of a slew of disappointing U.S. data, a plunge in oil to below $30 a barrel, and a sell-off in Chinese stocks added to mounting concerns about slowing global growth, CNBC reported.

Is it time to panic?

Edward Jones Financial Advisor Kristin Anderson says there’s still potential for some gains.

“We do see that as the dollar stabilizes going into the new Year we do feel that there will be some modest economic returns and I do not feel this is the end of the bull market,” she said.

“Still, (about) 400 points is pretty serious," said Douglas Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management.

U.S. crude oil settled down $1.78, or 5.71 percent, at $29.42 a barrel, the first settle under $30 in 12 years.

What should you do?

First, Anderson says don’t start pulling out all of your stocks. Stay invested but be sure you are diversified.

“The beginning of the year is a great time to re-evaluate how you have constructed your money,” she said. “Nobody wants to be inefficient with their money.”
 



Photo Credit: File -- AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tax Season Begins Jan. 19: Things to Know]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 15:25:37 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/210*120/GettyImages-88160312.jpg

Did you have a happy New Year? We certainly hope so. Now it’s time to get back to regular routines and take care of January chores, including gathering your tax information.

The 2016 Tax Season Begins on Jan. 19

The IRS announced that the 2016 tax season will begin on Jan. 19, as scheduled. The beginning of tax season marks the first day that the IRS will accept individual electronic returns and start processing traditional paper returns.

Soon, you and more than 150 million of your fellow Americans will be sifting through tax information and preparing returns — or have them prepared for you. Over 38,000 firms were at the ready to prepare your forms in 2015, handling over 82 million returns and creating $7.7 billion in revenue for tax preparers. Expect tax preparers to be just as busy in 2016.

You may have an alternative to paying for tax services. Almost 100 million Americans are eligible to save money by using IRS Free File. The IRS and their commercial partners supply free software to families or individuals making less than $62,000. This software can help you file your taxes without the need of outside assistance.

Regardless of who prepares your taxes, you get a few extra days to file them this year. Everybody gets one extra day thanks to 2016 being a leap year. Further, the filing deadline in most of the nation is April 18th instead of the traditional April 15th date. April 15th falls on a Friday this year and coincides with the Emancipation Day celebration in Washington D.C., pushing the deadline forward to the next Monday. Residents of Maine and Massachusetts get to file on April 19th because of the Patriots Day holiday on the 18th.

Tax Brackets and Tax Rates for 2016

For 2016, the seven tax brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6%. The threshold taxable income values have changed slightly due to inflation. For married taxpayers filing jointly the lower thresholds for each tax bracket are $18,551 (15%), $75,301 (25%), $151,901 (28%), $231,451 (33%), $413,501 (35%), and $466,950 (39.6%). Individual taxpayer thresholds are $9,276 (15%), $37,651 (25%), $91,151 (28%), $190,151 (33%), $413,351 (35%), and $415,051 (39.6%).

Did you know that the upper tax brackets do not apply directly to overall income? Those in the 39.6% tax bracket do not pay 39.6% of their total taxable income. Using married filing jointly as an example, they pay 10% on the first $18,550 of taxable income, 15% of the difference between $18,551 and $75,300, 25% of the difference between $75,301 and $15,900, and so on until reaching $466,951 when the 39.6% rate takes effect on all further income.

How much tax revenue does the IRS take in?

During the last fiscal year, the federal government raked in just short of $3.25 trillion in revenue. That works out to just over $10,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. Individual income taxes accounted for $1.5 trillion of that total.

Expecting a Tax Refund?

Generally, refunds are issued in less than three calendar weeks after receipt. That makes e-filing even more popular, since the submission is immediate. Last year over 128.6 million tax returns were e-filed, over 90% of the total submissions.

It may be a bit much to expect a happy feeling from tax season, but who knows? You can get the satisfaction of having your taxes done early and avoid the stress of desperate last-minute searches for receipts and other vital tax information. Besides, there could be a refund in your future, and that should keep the happiness rolling through the New Year.

This story first appeared on Moneytips.com. More from Moneytips: 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Wal-Mart Stores Among List of Closures]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 17:50:54 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/walmart-stock-breaking-getty-176560632.jpg

Two Chicago Walmart Express locations are among the 269 stores the company plans to close worldwide this month.  

The stores, located at 3636 N. Broadway St.  in the city's Lakeview neighborhood and 225 W. Chicago Ave. in the River North neighborhood, are both set to close Sunday, impacting about 110 employees, the company said. 

Wal-Mart announced Friday it will close 269 stores across the world, including 154 in the U.S. The closings will impact 16,000 employees, about 10,000 of whom are employed in the U.S.

As part of its shifting focus toward Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in profitable locations, the world's largest retailer plans to open as many as 405 stores globally in the coming fiscal year.

The U.S. store closures will mostly impact the company's Walmart Express stores, which account for 102 of the closings. These small stores, which are comparable in size to a dollar store, had been in pilot since 2011. They were rebranded as Neighborhood Market in 2014.

In addition to the Chicago closures, other stores closing in the Midwest include a Wal-Mart store at 5825 W. Hope Ave. in Milwaukee and two Neighborhood Market stores in Menomonee Falls and Waukesha, Wisconsin. 

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<![CDATA[Wayback Burgers to Open First Restaurant in Illinois]]> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 13:41:41 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/WaybackBurgers_WaybackClassic.jpg

Wayback Burgers is set to open up shop in a Chicago suburb this year, marking the burger chain’s first restaurant in Illinois.

The restaurant, which will be located at 2775 Showplace Dr. in Naperville, is set to open in the spring, though an exact date has not yet been released, the chain announced.

The restaurant will be owned and operated by local franchisee Jamil Sweis.

“We are excited to open the first Wayback Burgers location in Illinois this spring,” Sweissaid in a statement. “We believe that the area is a great fit for the brand, and we look forward to providing excellent service and top notch burgers, fries, shakes and more for foodies in Naperville and beyond.”

The news is promising for fans of the Triple Triple, a nine-patty burger with nine slices of cheese on it that has become the center of an eating competition. The Connecticut-based fast-casual franchise offers the Triple Triple Challenge on National Cheeseburger day, seeing who can devour the meat-stacked sandwich the fastest. Last year’s winner completed the challenge in 40 seconds.

According to Wayback Burgers, the Naperville location will feature a 2,150 square-foot design with a red barn board interior and white and stainless steel accents. It will also include an outdoor dining patio.



Photo Credit: Wayback Burgers]]>
<![CDATA[Trader Joe's Accused of Underfilling Cans of Tuna]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 19:49:15 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TraderJoes-GettyImages-536072783.jpg

A new lawsuit claims Trader Joe’s underfilled 5-ounce cans of its store-brand tuna, violating federally mandated minimum standards, NBC News reported.

The class action was filed Tuesday against the company and a subsidiary in Manhattan federal court. The suit alleges the cans, tested by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, contained an average of about 2.43 ounces to 2.87 ounces of tuna. That’s less than the standard fill of 3.23 ounces for these cans.

Because the cans are underweight, the suit alleges the cans are “illegal for sale in the United States.”

In a statement, Trader Joe's spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki wrote, "We don't comment on pending litigation."  



Photo Credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chinese Stock Market Tanks, Trading Halted]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 20:55:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ChinaStocks-AP_255538557568.jpg

China opted to keep guiding its currency lower, pushing Asian stocks to a three-month low on Thursday, NBC News reported.

Fears for the health of the Chinese economy has been reflected in the sharply lower yuan, and has been worrying investors. The Chinese currency fell to a record low since trading started in 2010.

Financial markets fear the yuan’s depreciation may accelerate, meaning China’s economy is even weaker than imagined, and could spark more devaluations around Asia and in other key economies.

Shanghai shares dropped more than 7 percent and trading was halted as the fall triggered a circuit breaker. Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei shed 1.5 percent, while shares in Australia lost 1.5 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI fell 1.4 percent, according to Reuters.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Low Gas Prices Forecast For 2016]]> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 17:09:21 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_gasprices0104_1500x845.jpg Analysts expect gasoline prices to remain close to $2 per gallon throughout 2016.]]> <![CDATA[McDonald's Testing New Mac and Cheese Side]]> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 17:19:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Mac-Cheese.jpg

McDonald’s has confirmed that the chain is testing mac and cheese at certain restaurants in the northeast Ohio area.

“We’re always looking for new ways to offer relevant tastes to our customers, so we’re giving that it a try and gathering valuable feedback from our customers,” Phil Saken, the communications manager for McDonald's Ohio region, told NBC Chicago.

The mac and cheese is selling for $1.75 a la carte and $3.00 in a Happy Meal as an entrée option, Saken said. The 4-ounce servings are a “blend of cheeses used for this ooey gooey goodness.”

Unfortunately, it isn’t clear if it will be offered in any other states. However, the Oak Brook-based chain has announced there will be a new addition to menus across the U.S. next year.

McDonald's USA President Mike Andres has announced plans to widely offer mozzarella sticks in the U.S. as “a snack item to add to your order."
 



Photo Credit: McDonald's]]>
<![CDATA[Redmoon Theater is Closing]]> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 05:38:40 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/redmoon+theater+2.jpg

Redmoon Theater, a performance company that has been a staple in Chicago for decades, announced Monday it is closing its doors for good.

Citing an inability to fund and support their “unique artistic vision,” the company said its “innovations haven’t been able to keep up with our civic goals.”

“It has been an honor to serve the city of Chicago for the past 25 years,” the company wrote in a letter. “We have been blessed to work in and with over 40 of Chicago's 77 official neighborhoods and to bring our unique brand of spectacle to some of our finest institutions; to many of the city's most revered public sites; and most importantly to some of its most overlooked neighborhoods.”

The artistic vision the theater references includes the 2014 Great Chicago Fire Festival, which drew 30,000 people to the Chicago River for an event designed to “celebrate Chicago’s grit, greatness and renewal following the fire of 1871.” But the festival received much criticism after a series of floating sculptures failed to ignite amid cold, rainy weather in what was intended to be the main spectacle of the event.

The company also tried to start a rental business in its newest venue, but a reported dispute with the landlord led to complications with performances, including a failed hologram concert involving rapper Chief Keef.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the venue’s owner Phillip Mumford, sued Redmoon in october seeking $62,082.22 in unpaid September and October rent. The report indicates the two are due back in court Wednesday.

“We apologize to anyone this unexpected closure has inconvenienced,” the theater’s statement read. “Please know that we do not take this decision lightly or without ardent effort to conclude differently. To those who supported us, we are endlessly grateful. To those who enjoyed us, we are pleased to have added to your lives. To those we served, to those who were touched or moved or perhaps even inspired, it is to you we have the greatest debt. You provided meaning to our mission and purpose to our work.”

Founded in 1990, Redmoon is known for its annual Halloween pageant in Logan Square. Though the theater is not allowed to publicize their gig in DC, at least one tweet from the Redmoon twitter account refers to “a Halloween party in a huge house.”

Redmoon has been at the center of many Chicago-related special events, including the Millennium Park inauguration parties in 2004, and the 2007 Looptopia in downtown Chicago.

"Our consolation at this sad moment is that Redmoon is bigger than this non-profit institution," the statement said. "It is a spirit that survives us. It lives in you, our patrons and partners. It is a memory sown into each of the sites that have hosted us. Most of all, we are consoled that Redmoon's mission to celebrate and uplift community is a shared concern powering amazing, if under-recognized, activity all over this great city."



Photo Credit: Redmoon Theater]]>
<![CDATA[What Shoppers Aren't Buying This Holiday Season: Report]]> Wed, 16 Dec 2015 13:47:27 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Generic+Gifts+Generic+Holiday+Shopping.jpg

More shoppers may be saying “bah humbug” to clothes this holiday season.

According to a report by Crain’s Chicago Business, the season’s top holiday trends don’t feature much clothing, and recent sales reports indicate the dip in consumption is affecting some major apparel retailers.

Data from IBM Watson Trend, which reports an instant analysis of what consumers are buying, shows the current items on most wishlists are an Apple Watch, Samsung TVs, Sony TVs, Lego Friends and Lego Star Wars. In fact, the only clothing item to make it into the season’s current trending items list was running shoes.

The National Retail Federation noted Tuesday that millions of shoppers still have a lengthy list to finalize.

“While we witnessed an early start to the holiday shopping season and an extraordinary Thanksgiving weekend, some of the busiest shopping days of the year are still to come,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “We expect retailers will be competitive on price and value options in the final stretch, including extended store hours and in-store events, as well as online deals and free shipping offers. Even an unseasonably warm winter cannot keep last-minute shoppers from putting off their holiday purchases anymore.”

According to their final consumer holiday spending survey, however, 50.8 percent of shoppers say they have already purchased clothing and acccessories gifts. That's compared to only 34.5 percent who have bought toys and 22.8 percent who bought electronic items. 

Recent retail data showed sales at clothing and accessories stores have increased 0.8 percent since October, but decreased 1.6 percent when compared to last year. 

Crain’s reported that a dip in sales has forced various reactions from larger retail companies.

For example, Macy’s announced last month that it has “begun a process to explore joint ventures or other deal structures with third parties to redevelop” flagship spaces in Chicago, Manhattan, San Francisco and Minneapolis. The decision came after the company said “the pace of sales” did not improve in the third quarter.

“Spending by domestic customers remained tepid, especially in key apparel and accessory categories,” Macy’s said in a release.

In November, major retailer Nordstrom Inc. revealed the company’s third quarter performance was below company expectations, citing “softer sales trends that were generally consistent across channels and merchandise categories.”

Earlier this year, Gap Inc. revealed plans to close 175 stores and eliminate 250 jobs at its headquarters.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[$130B Megadeal: Dow, DuPont to Merge]]> Fri, 11 Dec 2015 07:50:58 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/182*120/dow+chemical.jpg

Chemical giants DuPont and Dow Chemical agreed to merge in a $130 billion all-stock deal.

The company would be renamed DowDuPont then split itself into three independent publicly traded companies focused on agriculture, material science and specialty products, according to The Associated Press.

Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris will be the company's executive chairman and DuPont Chairman and CEO Edward Breen will be its CEO.

The merger is likely to face intense regulatory scrutiny, according to Reuters.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Prime Begins Grocery Delivery in Chicago]]> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 14:59:11 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_93380942358.jpg

Online retailer Amazon expanded its one-hour delivery service Thursday to include groceries for Chicago residents who are members of Amazon Prime.

The service will include groceries, prepared meals and baked goods from Plum Market, Sprinkles Cupcakes and My Fit Foods, according to Amazon. The goods can be ordered through the Prime Now app.

One-hour delivery costs Prime members $7.99 on top of the standard membership fee, and two-hour delivery is free.

Plum Market offers all-natural, organic, local and specialty food items. The grocery chain has one store in Chicago, located at 1233 N. Wells St. in the Old Town neighborhood.

Prime Now is currently available in more than 20 cities across the U.S., including Chicago and Indianapolis.



Photo Credit: AP - FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, Others Settle False Labeling Lawsuit]]> Wed, 09 Dec 2015 18:18:49 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/JCPENNEY4.jpg

Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Backcountry.com agreed to pay penalties totaling $1.3 million for falsely labeling fibers in some of their products, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In a release, the agency wrote that the four retailers “broke the law” by mislabeling rayon products as bamboo, despite receiving a warning from the FTC in February of 2010 to properly label the material.

The Commission charged Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Backcountry.com with violating the Textile Act and the Textile Rules. The agency alleged the four companies deceptively sold the mislabeled products, despite knowing that it was illegal to do so.

Nordstrom will pay $360,000, J.C. Penney will pay $290,000, Backcountry.com will pay $150,000, and Bed Bath and Beyond will pay $500,000, the highest of the penalties, according to the FTC.

The products under scrutiny included bamboo baby swaddles sold at Bed Bath and Beyond, a bamboo dress sold at Nordstrom, and bamboo men’s socks sold at J.C. Penney and Backcountry.com. The FTC claimed that none of these items contained bamboo, but actually contained rayon.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Offers New Sandwiches, Table Service at Some Locations]]> Wed, 02 Dec 2015 13:50:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonald%27s+worker+getty.jpg

Hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants are about to get new sandwich menu items and an entirely new way of ordering.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based chain announced Wednesday that it plans to offer up Taste Crafted Burgers and Chicken in roughly 600 Southern California restaurants and also plans to test table service at those locations. 

According to the company, the new menu items allow customers to create a sandwich by giving them the option of beef, buttermilk crispy chicken or artisan grilled chicken and a choice between a sesame seed bun, a potato roll or an artisan roll. Customers can also choose one of four flavor options, including pico guacamole, buffalo bacon, maple bacon Dijon and deluxe.

"Consumers have told us that they are looking for variety and the ability to customize their choices. Taste Crafted Burgers and Chicken allows us to cater to our customers' desires," said Clay Paschen III, president, McDonald's Operators' Association of Southern California (MOASC). "We're excited to bring these delicious ingredients, delectable flavors and variety to our Southern California customers."

The table service test means customers will place their order at the front counter and receive a metal stand with their order number on it. They can take the stand to their table and their food will be delivered to them, a company spokesperson confirmed. 

"We know that eating out is about the whole experience from start to finish," said spokeswoman Lisa McComb. "This extra touch of hospitality makes every visit more enjoyable from the time customers order until they are ready to leave."

It was not clear if the sandwich option and table service would eventually be rolled out nationwide, but McComb said the company is focused on "gathering the valuable customer and crew feedback from this test."

Last month, Bloomberg reported that McDonald’s rolled out a new method for taking orders from the drive-thru window to ensure accuracy. The company also announced plans to offer mozzarella sticks nationwide next year.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Company Named Best Retailer for 2015 Cyber Week]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:54:54 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cyber+monday+TLMD.jpg

Those who choose to skip out on the Black Friday chaos may choose to explore Cyber Monday deals instead, but for shoppers looking to save even more during the online shopping frenzy, it appears some retailers are better than others.

According to Wallethub, a personal finance website, an analysis of thousands of holiday cyber deals from 30 of the biggest U.S. retailers shows a Chicago-based organization is offering the largest discounts for 2015.

Groupon was listed as the best retailer for Cyber Week, with a 62-percent discount rate, according to the report. The Chicago company was followed in the ranking by Belk, Bon-Ton, JCPenney, Macy’s, eBay, Kohl’s, Sears, Amazon and Kmart.

The most discounted category for Cyber Week was jewelry, while computers, phones and video games were the least discounted items, according to the study.

Cyber Monday sales are expected to hit the $3 billion mark for the first time this year, the largest one-day sales total in e-commerce history, the report states.

The average discount for the online event is 36 percent, Wallethub stated, noting that in 5 out of 9 products analyzed in the study, discounts were bigger on Black Friday.

The worst retailers listed in the study were Gander Mountain, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Best Buy and Gap. 

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<![CDATA[Online Sales Surge, but Thousands Lining Up for Black Friday]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 06:28:13 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/BlackFridayMacys-AP_931186516506.jpg

Thousands of shoppers are still choosing to line up in the stores to make sure they got the best deals. The tradition of getting there early was still going strong, according to NBC News.

Hundreds lined nine levels of escalators at Macy's flagship store in New York City to get Black Friday deals on Thursday.

Many more consumers opted to stay home and shop online, according to NBC News.

Online sales increased 24 percent through 11 a.m. ET Thursday, compared to the same 12-hour period on Thanksgiving last year, according to Adobe Digital Index, which tracks real-time data for retailers.

Online shops are also reporting greater sales volumes - as much as 50 percent from midnight to noon, including 31 percent at Amazon.com, online retail data aggregator, Channel Advisor, said.



Photo Credit: AP Images for Macy's]]>
<![CDATA[UnitedHealth May Withdraw From Obamacare]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 00:15:22 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/UnitedHealth-AP_580078387860.jpg

Experts are divided over Thursday’s news that the No. 1 U.S. health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, might withdraw from health exchanges mandated by so-called Obamacare legislation, NBC News reported.

The company lowered its earnings forecast for 2015, and expects to lose $275 million on its exchange business next year.

Critics of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, said the news pointed to a flawed system that could trigger the withdrawal by other insurers, while advocates blamed the insurer’s late, tentative entry into the market for the company’s financial stumble.

Fewer enrolled are signing up for health insurance through the exchanges. Experts say insurers taking part in the exchanges can’t break even, and customers may see premiums climb, according to NBC News.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Will Nation's Top Health Insurer Kill Obamacare?]]> Sun, 22 Nov 2015 02:19:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Obamacare-Website-AP_249581118509.jpg

Thursday's news that the No. 1 U.S. health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, might withdraw from the health insurance exchanges mandated by so-called Obamacare legislation divided experts into two camps. 

On one side were critics of the Affordable Care Act, the proper name of the 2010 federal legislation, who said the news pointed to a fundamentally flawed system put in place by the law and could trigger a flight for the exits by other insurers, NBC News reported.

On the other were advocates of the law and efforts to execute its policies, who blamed UnitedHealth's late, tentative entry into the market for the company's financial stumble.

UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley stirred up the somewhat-dormant debate over Obamacare on Thursday by announcing that the company was lowering its earnings forecast for 2015 from between $6.25 and $6.35 a share to $6 a share for the year and expects to lose $275 million on its exchange business next year.

Experts say that, in terms of the numbers, UnitedHealth dropping out wouldn't be huge. Exchange enrollees comprise less than 5 percent of UnitedHealth's business, Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Borsch said in a research note.
 



Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tyson Closing Plants in Chicago and Wisconsin ]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:00:26 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_tyson_logo.jpg

Tyson Foods says it's closing plants in Chicago and Jefferson, Wisconsin, in a move that will affect 880 workers.

Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson said in a statement Thursday the closures are due to changing product needs, the age of both facilities and prohibitive costs of renovations, as well as the distance of the Chicago plant from its raw material suppliers.

Job losses at the Chicago plant, which makes prepared foods for the hospitality industry, will total around 480 people. Another 400 positions will be lost at the Jefferson plant, which makes sliced pepperoni and ham for pizza toppings, as well as sliced pepperoni and salami for deli and food service applications.

The company expects to close the plants in the second half of its fiscal year, which ends Oct 1, 2016. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Owners Donate Turkeys in Chicago]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 11:20:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000015185556_1200x675_568755267960.jpg The Black McDonald's Operators Association of Chicago and Northwest Indiana kicked off their 16th annual "Food for the Body & Spirit" program, donating more than 1,000 turkeys to Chicago residents in need. ]]> <![CDATA[U.S. Stocks Close Sharply Higher in Wake of Paris Attacks]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 16:21:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NYSE-Paris-Attacks-GettyImages-497371064.jpg

U.S. stocks gained Monday on a sharp jump in oil prices boosted by geopolitical concerns following weekend terror attacks in Paris. 

The major U.S. averages closed more than 1 percent higher, recovering some of their sharp declines last week.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose more than 225 points in afternoon trade, with Chevron, Exxon Mobil and UnitedHealth contributing the most to gains.

"I think the positive tone to the market owes something to the fact that European shares moved higher," said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's. He also noted some support from greater confidence in a gradual pace of rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

In Asia overnight, stocks were hit by a sell-off on Monday, with tourism-related plays among the hardest-hit, as sentiment was badly dented by the Paris attacks. In other Asia news, data released Monday showed Japan's economy slid back into recession in July-September.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wal-Mart to Open Its Doors on Thanksgiving Day]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 07:18:26 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WalmartBlackFriday-AP_674555436752.jpg

Wal-Mart has broken its silence about its plans for Black Friday.

On Thursday, the retailer announced it will open its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, the same time it has for the last three years.

For those looking for a head start, Wal-Mart said the majority of its deals will be available online at 3:01 a.m. ET on Thanksgiving, including some of the most sought after items like televisions, video game consoles and small appliances.

Rivals Macy's, Sears and Target already announced their plans to open on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. Toys R Us will be open an hour earlier.

A number of stores, including H&M, have decided to keep their doors closed, opting to give their employees the chance to spend the holiday at home with friends and family.

Outdoor retailer REI said it would skip Black Friday altogether. According to its website, “the outdoors, and the website are always open.”



Photo Credit: Invision for Walmart]]>
<![CDATA[Company Makes $14B on China's Fake 'Singles' Day']]> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 15:07:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_996003549132.jpg

The retail website Alibaba brought up $14 billion in sales on the made-up Chinese holiday "Singles' Day," the company said on Thursday.

This year's sales were 60 percent higher than last year. 

Six years ago, Alibaba turned Nov. 11 into China's equivalent of United States shopping event Cyber Monday. It has now become larger than both Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined, and a closely watched barometer of the company's performance.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Macy's Considers Redeveloping Flagship State Street Store]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 13:23:27 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-458643256.jpg

Macy’s announced Wednesday that it is considering redeveloping its flagship State Street store in Chicago, among others.

The company said in a release it has “begun a process to explore joint ventures or other deal structures with third parties to redevelop” flagship spaces in Chicago, Manhattan, San Francisco and Minneapolis.

The redevelopment would be done in “a manner that maintains a robust Macy’s retail store presence while also bringing alternative use into those buildings,” Macy’s said.

The announcement came as Macy’s revealed its third-quarter financial results.

“We are disappointed that the pace of sales did not improve in the third quarter, as we had expected,” Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s, Inc., said in a statement. “Spending by domestic customers remained tepid, especially in key apparel and accessory categories. Simultaneously, the slowdown in buying by international visitors continued to significantly impact Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores in tourist centers, which are some of our company’s largest-volume and most profitable locations.”

The company announced in September it planned to close 35 to 40 locations in early 2016, or as much as 5 percent of its namesake department stores.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[China's Online Singles' Day Nets Record Sales ]]> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 06:00:09 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/SinglesDay-GettyImages-496343898.jpg

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has passed its record halfway through its Singles’ Day shopping event, NBC News reported.

In the first eight minutes of this year’s sale, the company generated more than $1 billion in sales. Last year, it took 17 minutes to hit that mark.

Alibaba said it hit more than $9.3 billion in gross merchandise volume. It said it surpassed the $2.4 billion sold on Cyber Monday, the largest online sales day in the U.S.

Singles’ Day is known as the world’s largest 24-hour online shopping event, and falls on Nov. 11 every year. It was created in the 1990s as a way to celebrate single life.



Photo Credit: LightRocket via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's to Offer Mozzarella Sticks Nationwide Next Year]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:05:15 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/mcdonalds-sign-gallery.jpg

McDonald’s plans to add a new snack item to menus across the country next year.

McDonald's USA President Mike Andres announced plans Tuesday to widely offer mozzarella sticks in the U.S. as “a snack item to add to your order,” a company spokesperson confirmed. 

The move is the latest addition to the Oak Brook-based chain’s menus.

The fast food giant made headlines after it rolled out all-day breakfast options nationally last month.

Reports have also indicated the chain may soon chop the Dollar Menu and add a $2 menu in a program called the “Pick 2.” The “Pick 2” would allow customers to choose two items for $2. Franchise owners were expected to vote on the 2-for-2 deal late last month.

The franchise is also making a few other tweaks as a way to entice customers, like toasting burger buns longer and searing burger patties. Most recently, the company revealed plans to test Monster drinks at about 20 restaurants in the U.S., including in Illinois.

Since new CEO Steve Easterbrook took over the company in March, McDonald’s has seen an uptick in sales at U.S. locations during the third quarter. It’s the first time sales have increased in two years.

Easterbrook has said he wants to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company."



Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com/File
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<![CDATA[Safety Experts Release New Booster Seat Ratings]]> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 05:47:01 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/news-GettyImages-580521915.jpg

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its latest safety ratings for booster seats on Tuesday.

Twenty of the 23 seats earned the highest rating. The IIHS said the seats would provide a good belt fit for children between 4 and 8 years old in any vehicle, including cars, minivans and SUVs.

Booster seats are meant for children who have outgrown traditional harnessed car seats, which is usually at the age of eight. But the organization recommends keeping some children in booster seats until they're 12 years old.

Until then, the IIHS recommends making sure the belt lies "flat across a child's upper thighs, not across the soft abdomen, and the shoulder belt crosses snugly over the middle of a child's shoulder.”

The other three seats would provide an acceptable fit in almost any vehicle, the IIHS said.

Using a booster seat can help lower the risk of injury in crashes by 45 percent, according to the IIHS.



Photo Credit: Stock photo via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[VW Offers $1,000 Credit Cards to Owners of Cheating Diesels]]> Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:08:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_928991880469-VW.jpg

Volkswagen's U.S. subsidiary said on Monday it will offer $1,000 worth of credit cards, of which half may be spent at VW and Audi dealerships, to owners of certain diesel models the company has admitted do not comply with government emissions standards.

The automaker said eligible U.S. owners of nearly 500,000 VW and Audi models equipped with 2.0 liter TDI diesel engines can apply to receive a $500 prepaid Visa card and a $500 dealership card, as well as three years of free roadside assistance services, NBC News reported.

The program could cost VW nearly $500 million, half of which could flow directly to dealers.

VW has said about 482,000 cars sold in the United States since 2009 with four-cylinder diesel engines had software installed that allowed the engines to pass government tests for smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions, but pollute at levels far above government limits in normal operation.



Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Nordstrom Says It Won't Deck the Halls Until After Thanksgiving]]> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 12:50:01 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Nordstrom-Generic.jpg

With the holiday season fast approaching, retailers across the country are decking the halls with holiday decor, but Nordstrom says that won’t be the case at its hundreds of U.S. locations.

Signs at the stores, including one along Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago, say Nordstrom won’t begin putting up Christmas decorations until Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving. 

"We don't trim our stores till after we've trimmed the turkey," one sign reads. 

Why?

"Because we like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time," the signs says.

The sign also says the store will be closed Thanksgiving but will be open Black Friday.

Nordstrom spokesperson Dan Evans Jr. said the move affects all 312 Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores in 39 states, along with three in Canada.

"We just believe in celebrating one holiday at a time," he said Tuesday. "It's a longstanding tradition. Our customers tell us they appreciate it."

Similar signs were posted at Nordstrom stores last year after the leading fashion retailer announced it would be closed for Thanksgiving Day.

Closing for the holiday doesn't sit well with many retailers. 

Breaking a 155-year-old tradition, Macy’s announced last year it would open on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m. Other retailers, including JCPenney and Toys"R"Us, also remained open and expanded their operating hours.

Still, many have joined the list of stores closing for the November holiday this year. 

H&M announced Monday all U.S. stores would remain closed for Thanksgiving, and Staples stores across the nation will do the same.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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