FAST FACTS HAWAII
Analysts predict small holiday gains
NEW YORK » It's getting trickier to predict holiday sales amid the popularity of gift cards and the increasing role of e-tailing, but the growing consensus among Wall Street pundits is for only modest gains.
Deloitte Research projects that holiday sales will rise between 4.5 percent to 5.0 percent for the November through January period, less than last year's 5.1 percent increase. The figures exclude business from automobiles and gas stations, but include online sales.
Meanwhile, the International Council of Shopping Centers forecast that same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year, will be up 2.5 percent for the November-December period, compared to a 2.9 percent gain in the year-ago period. The holiday growth should be in line with a revised 2.3 percent same-store sales pace seen since February, when retailers' fiscal year begins.
Is your office like "The Office"?
When you crack a joke at work, does a laugh track chime in? Do you end each day in a dramatic boardroom meeting, dreading the words "You're fired"?
Work environments on popular television shows may be made up, but many real-life employees can relate, according to a new poll. An overwhelming 53 percent of respondents said the "boring and mismanaged" workplace depicted in "The Office" was most like their own, the nonscientific online poll by employee Web site Monster.com found.
The fast-paced environment on hospital drama "ER" garnered 23 percent of the vote, followed by Donald Trump's reality show "The Apprentice," which 13 percent of respondents said was cutthroat and competitive like their own workplaces.
The personal theatrics and romance on medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" won 11 percent of the votes.
The poll results were based on more than 4,800 votes cast on the Monster.com home page.
How to recover from a PC crash
Working from home has its perks, but if your computer crashes you might be on your own.
The company desktop support team probably doesn't make house calls, so follow these tips from the current issue of ShopSmart magazine, a Consumer Reports publication, to fix computer problems yourself:
» Round up free advice. If you can still connect to the Internet, ask for help from computer user groups with frequent postings. You can start by browsing previously posted questions and answers.
» If your computer is still under warranty, contact your manufacturer. Even though manufacturer support often rates poorly with customers, it's worth a shot. Before you call, keep a notebook with your system's serial number, basic specifications and any software or hardware you've added.
Keep backup discs, systems discs and software that came with the computer. Also be prepared to tell the technical support representative what the problem is, when it happened and what you were doing when it arose. Write down any error messages that pop up.
» If all else fails, call a techie-for-hire, such as Best Buy Co.'s Geek Squad. Consider local independent operations, too, which tend to earn higher marks for customer satisfaction.
Millions shop online while at work
If your attention is drawn to shoe sales instead of sales figures during company conference calls, you're not alone. More than 12 million Americans admit to shopping online at least once over the past year while on work-related conference calls, according to a new survey.
One million of those secret shoppers got caught, and their reactions ranged from embarrassment to seeking out second opinions from co-workers on the items they bought.
The respondents who confessed included more men than women, and the most frequent shoppers were college-educated, aged 35-54, and earned more than $50,000 a year.
About 23 percent of covert buyers admitted to browsing for a trip to Florida or a new blender at least five times in the past year, while 12 percent said they shopped online at work 10 or more times during the past 12 months.
The random telephone survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted by Bill Me Later, an online payment service, and Ipsos Insight.