Thursday, November 22, 2007


Consumers Flock To Lower-Price Stores For Thanksgiving Holiday Shopping Amid Higher Gas Prices And Weak Credit
November 22, 2007 5:57 a.m. EST

Jacob Cherian - AHN News Writer
New York, NY (AHN) - For the second consecutive year, stores like CompUSA and BJ's Wholesale Club will be open for Thanksgiving.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving holiday shopping was exclusive to discount stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart and grocery retailers as well as convenience stores like 7-Eleven.

This year, Kmart, run by Sears Holdings Corp., has decided to outdo the competition by offering Thanksgiving Day specials on items ranging from TVs to GPs systems.

Officially, the holiday shopping season does not kick off until Friday.

"Some people just can't wait until Friday," said Kirsten Whipple, a Sears spokeswoman in a report by The Associated Press. "Thanksgiving dinner is done and they have moved on."

Consumers are pressured by higher gas prices at the pump and tight credit, more and more shoppers are turning to lower-price stores and inexpensive products.

The trend of shopping for cheaper items may be of advantage to discounters, warehouse clubs, and drug stores and may hurt department stores as well as apparel-chains in shopping malls.

Retail consultant Burt Flickinger III told AP, "People are so cash- and credit-concerned."

Analysts will be eyeing how the holiday season progresses with drug stores like CVS selling gifts like iCraig's iPod Alarm Clock Radio for $29.99.

"Rising gas and oil prices mean that consumers are looking to make fewer trips and cut costs anyway they can," said Eileen Howard Dunn, senior vice president, CVS/pharmacy, reports AP.

BEIJING (Reuters) - China refused permission for a U.S. aircraft carrier and accompanying vessels to visit Hong Kong for a long-planned Thanksgiving holiday visit -- and then changed its mind.

The USS Kitty Hawk group and its crew of 8,000 airmen and sailors had been expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday, but the U.S. State Department said the visit had been blocked by China.

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Hundred of relatives of crew members of the Kitty Hawk had flown to Hong Kong to celebrate Thanksgiving. Hong Kong, especially its Wanchai bar district, has been a regular port of call for U.S. sailors on "R & R" (rest and recuperation) since the Vietnam War.

The Chinese move came as a surprise just weeks after a visit to China by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, which he said he hoped would lead to a long-term dialogue.

But the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday the carrier would be allowed to dock in the former British colony after all.

"We have decided to allow the Kitty Hawk to stay in Hong Kong during Thanksgiving," spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news conference.

"It is a decision based on humanitarian considerations only."

He did not say why the ships had been blocked in the first place, but there are issues that may have prompted Beijing's action including U.S. plans to sell Taiwan a $940 million upgrade to its missile system and last month's meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader who Beijing considers a traitor.

Last year a Chinese submarine surfaced uncomfortably close to the Kitty Hawk near the Japanese island of Okinawa, an incident that highlighted the potential for friction between the two powers.

Beijing's move coincided with "airspace controls" introduced on Wednesday which the Xinhua news agency said affected the air travel plans of 7,000 people in south and east China.

The controls had been ordered for "unspecified reasons."

The Kitty Hawk, laid down in 1956, has the second longest active service of any ship in the U.S. navy after the USS Constitution, a 208-year-old ceremonial sailing ship kept in Boston Harbor.

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