About 6 out of 10 retailers plan to increase their spending on social media ads this year, nearly as many as will increase their search-ad budgets, according to a report from the National Retail Federation. Facebook, especially, has emerged as a key resource for retailers seeking new customers, the report notes.
Wages and benefits paid by U.S. employers this spring rose at the slowest pace since the second quarter of 1982, the Labor Department said. The employment cost index, which tracks salaries, wages and benefits, climbed 0.2% in Q2, compared with a 0.7% gain in Q1.
Elly Kirk, a North Carolina eighth-grader, has launched a campaign urging the staff at her middle school to include vegetarian lunch options. Kirk said she wants items such as beans, veggie burgers and baked potatoes added to the menu for students who prefer meatless meals. Her online petition has attracted international attention, with more than 28,000 signatures and praise from the school principal for activism.
Mortgage rates fell this week as global economic news pushed bond yields lower. The 30-year fixed-rate average dropped to 3.98% -- the first time it dipped below 4% in eight weeks, according to Freddie Mac.
Fresh & Easy has begun the process of closing 14 underperforming stores in markets including San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Arizona, a company spokesman said Friday, which will leave leave the retailer with less than 100 stores. "While recent initiatives have helped drive additional sales across the Fresh & Easy business, in the case of these locations the progress was not enough to bring their performance in line with the rest of the business," a spokesman said.
The FDA released for public comment a proposed nutrition facts label that includes a new line showing the "percent daily value" of added sugar in foods. The FDA also reopened the comment period for the overall updated nutrition facts panel that emphasizes calories and more realistic serving sizes.
Spike Lee's film "Chi-Raq" and Woody Allen's first-ever TV series are among the prominent pieces of entertainment content that Amazon has secured for its Prime subscription service, which offers access to exclusive online video content in addition to free shipping. Also, Amazon's comedy "Transparent," about transgender family dynamics, has won Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. "We're not trying to have a formula for shows, except insofar as you want the voices of their time who really are distinctive and people care about," Amazon Studios Vice President Roy Price said.
Marvin Ellison officially took over as J.C. Penney's CEO on Saturday, after working side-by-side with outgoing chief Myron Ullman for 10 months, a system designed to ensure a smooth transition. To meet aggressive sales and earnings goals, Ellison's first challenge will be "to maintain the current momentum, and then step it up," Deutsche Bank Analyst Paul Trussell said.
SoftBank has debuted a robot in Japan that the company claims can read and react to human emotions tracked through a set of cameras and sensors. The consumer version of the "Pepper" robot retails for $1,650, and SoftBank plans to have an enterprise version rollout in October.
Bayer Healthcare's Finacea, or topical azelaic acid 15% foam, has obtained FDA approval for use in treating inflammatory papules and pustules in patients with mild to moderate rosacea. The decision was based on two clinical trials that showed the drug effectively decreased inflammatory lesion count after a 12-week treatment period, compared with a vehicle control.
AT&T is promoting a $200 monthly cellphone and TV Everywhere bundle that it plans to offer throughout the U.S. -- marking the first fruits of its merger with DIRECTV. Starting Aug. 10, the carrier will provide four phone lines with unlimited voice and texting, along with 10 gigabytes of sharable data. On the video side, AT&T will hook up four TVs with HD and DVR features and the ability to watch on any mobile device.
Lighter, sturdier concrete made possible by technological advances has encouraged architects to use it more in their designs. Author Philip Jodidio explores concrete's use in his two-volume set "100 Contemporary Concrete Buildings."
The Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan will help Michigan slash its carbon emissions 31% in the next 15 years, writes Dean Berden, owner of DB Solar. The wind and solar industries could support over 840,000 jobs nationwide by 2030, according to the Department of Energy. "Transitioning to low-cost clean energy will benefit Michigan in a variety of ways: more stable or lower power bills, new jobs and a stronger economy that is well-positioned for the future," Berden writes.