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February 13, 2014 | By Don Lee and Tiffany Hsu
The winter economic blues continue. Retail sales unexpectedly fell 0.4% in January from December, the government said Thursday. That was the biggest drop in 18 months and the latest in a series of blah reports on the economy. Sales were “weaker than already low expectations” for flat results, the softness “punctuated by hefty downward revisions to December,” according to Credit Suisse. The bank's analysts said in a note to clients that “at first blush these data appear to be impacted by the frigid weather across the country” and that “February does not offer much hope for relief.” Volatile temperatures may prevent the industry from getting “a clean read on retail demand for quite some time,” according to Credit Suisse.
February 13, 2014 | By Lisa Boone
Packed with every type of light imaginable - including antique-brass chain pendants, Sputnik sconces and organic-looking wood chandeliers - the first direct-to-consumer Arteriors store, in West Hollywood, is sure to please the lighting-fixated. The business has been around since 1987, when Mark Moussa started the Dallas-based company as a design firm specializing in lighting, furniture and decorative accessories sold primarily to the trade. On Wednesday, Moussa opened the firm's first retail store, on the corner of Melrose Avenue and Huntley Drive, two doors down from the new Design Within Reach studio.
February 4, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
The blockbuster theft of credit card data from Target during the holiday shopping rush was just one example of the way outdated cards are leaving Americans more vulnerable to fraud and identity theft than shoppers are in other developed countries. The good news is that the credit card industry is in the process of fixing part of the problem. The bad news is that squabbling among retailers, banks and payment processors is getting in the way of a more complete solution. The United States is one of the few remaining places where credit and debit cards rely on a magnetic stripe, rather than a microchip, to store and transmit account information.
February 2, 2014 | By Tiffany Hsu and Andrea Chang
Nordstrom is famously forgiving when shoppers change their minds about purchases. Customers love it - especially those whose motives may be questionable. The Seattle retailer has been known to take back well-worn clothing, shoes bought years earlier and jars of half-used moisturizer. When Elana Pruitt was a Nordstrom sales employee years ago, she recalled, shoppers would make purchases with gift cards and then quickly return the items for cash. Technically it's allowed, said Pruitt, 33, now a social media coordinator and fashion blogger in Eagle Rock.
January 30, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Californians who use their credit cards for online purchases would gain some protection, and voters would decide whether the state's public universities could consider race and gender for admissions, under measures passed by the state Senate on Thursday. The Assembly has yet to act on either measure. Responding to cases in which hackers stole personal financial information on millions of credit card users, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) proposed limiting the details that online merchants may collect from their customers.
January 27, 2014 | By Ethan N. Elkind
With the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line groundbreaking last week, Los Angeles now has three rail transit projects under construction - an example of how the city is leading the country in a rail renaissance. The "city that destroyed cities," as GQ recently described L.A. for pioneering auto-oriented development, has been planning and building a multibillion-dollar rail network, thanks in part to up to $13 billion in local sales tax funds from a successful 2008 measure. But these billions risk being wasted if city leaders do not promote, and residents do not allow, new growth around rail stations and corridors.
January 23, 2014 | By Tiffany Hsu
At the newest David's Bridal store, wedged in a Los Angeles strip mall with an auto parts merchant and a Subway sandwich shop, customers won't find the chain's usual budget-conscious dresses, fluorescent lighting and wall-to-wall carpeting. Instead, there's glossy tile flooring. Chandeliers. Curated displays of shoes, glittering jewelry and pearl-encrusted clutches. Artfully draped curtains lead into a bright area lined with mirrored dressing rooms and plush chairs, evoking the boutique salons on Robertson Boulevard or Melrose Place.
January 16, 2014 | By Tiffany Hsu
It's not looking pretty for J.C. Penney. The Plano, Texas, company said this week that it plans to close 33 under-performing stores around the country by early May and shave 2,000 jobs off its books. Chief Executive Myron Ullman called the move - designed to save the company $65 million a year - a key step in J.C. Penney's "progress toward long-term profitable growth. " Several analysts, however, say it's a sign that the retailer's turnaround may be more like a turndown. "J.C.
January 15, 2014 | By Tiffany Hsu
The National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency tasked with policing bad behavior by employers, is targeting Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over the retail behemoth's alleged crackdown on its protesting workers. The NLRB filed a formal complaint Wednesday against the Bentonville, Ark. chain, alleging that the company violated the rights of more than 60 employees rallying over workplace conditions in 14 states - including California. Some experts said the NLRB may be trying to establish itself as a force to be feared, and not just in the unionized workplaces that have traditionally been its stomping grounds.
January 10, 2014 | By Walter Hamilton and Ricardo Lopez
The data breach at Target Corp. is dramatically larger than first estimated, affecting as many as 110 million consumers and deepening a public relations nightmare for the beleaguered retailer. The Minneapolis company said Friday that the personal information of as many as 70 million people - including names, addresses, emails and phone numbers - was stolen during the year-end holiday shopping season. That is in addition to the 40 million customers that Target originally said were hit by the cyberattack.
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