Has cold wave frozen sales?
Businesses here and across the country are blaming snow, ice and bone-chilling temperatures for slowing down the flow of customers coming through their doors this winter. The Commerce Department reported the economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate last quarter in part because cold weather impacted consumer spending. The extreme temperatures have made it hard to determine if the sales slowdown is a temporary hurdle or an early sign of weakness in consumer spending.
Macy's as the Grinch
The city's Christmas parade will go on this year without Macy's. After 32 years, the Downtown department store is bowing out as lead sponsor of the annual event recently billed as "My Macy's Holiday Parade." The Cincinnati-based company does, however, plan to continue other holiday traditions here, such as the animated holiday window display on Light Up Night and breakfasts with Santa.
Volunteerism is down
Fewer people signed up to volunteer for charitable causes last year, which saw the lowest level of volunteerism in this country since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the numbers in 2002. The bureau found women volunteer more than men, and the highest percentage of volunteers, 10.9 percent, deal with packing, cooking, distributing or serving food.
Middle class can't save
Americans, in general, are having a hard time squirreling any money aside for emergencies, according to the Consumer Federation of America. A national survey found 63 percent of people in this country are making "fair" or "no" progress on meeting their savings needs.
Stock market record
The stock market staged an impressive turnaround in February after a less than stellar start to the new year. The Standard & Poor's 500 index hit an all-time high after getting a boost from strong earnings reported by several companies. The S&P 500 was down almost 6 percent for the year at the start of February as investors were selling stocks.
For these and other stories, go to www.post-gazette.com/businessnews.
Tim Grant: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1591.