Snow saps ‘Super Saturday’ sales; retailers hope for rush

Super Saturday — the last Saturday before Christmas and usually ranked as the biggest or second-biggest sales day of the year — got walloped by a big East Coast snow storm that kept many shoppers at home.

Merchants in the Northeast are now left to hope for an even bigger-than-usual last-minute spending surge from shoppers who, several surveys show, are behind on their holiday purchases compared with previous years.

Several stores, including Target Corp. and Toys R Us, announced earlier this week they will extend their hours to accommodate shoppers in the final days before Christmas. But analysts say there are no signs stores have begun a wave of discounting to make up for the Saturday shortfall.

Research firm ShopperTrak reported Tuesday that Super Saturday sales dropped 12.6 percent from a year ago, while foot traffic fell 12.4 percent, as a winter storm lashed the East Coast. That’s on top of a 12.4 percent sales decline and a 17 percent drop in foot traffic on Super Saturday in 2008 compared with the prior year. The firm, based in Chicago, tracks total retail sales at more than 50,000 outlets.

ShopperTrak reported that Saturday’s sales totaled $6.9 billion, compared with $7.9 billion last year and $8.7 billion in 2007. For the full weekend, sales slipped 2.1 percent to $18.8 billion compared with a year ago.


FBI investigates hacker attack at Citigroup, newspaper reports

The FBI is investigating a hacker attack on Citigroup Inc. that led to the theft of tens of millions of dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The bank strenuously denied the report.

Citing anonymous government officials, the Journal reported that the hackers were connected to a Russian cybergang. Two other computer systems, at least one connected to a U.S. government agency, were also attacked.

In a statement, Citi said “any allegation that the FBI is working on a case at Citigroup involving a breach of Citi systems resulting in tens of millions of dollars of losses is false. There has been no breach and there have been no associated losses.”

Dow Jones & Co. spokesman Robert Christie said the Journal stands by the accuracy of its story.

Citibank has 15 retail branches in Nevada and a credit card processing center, which employ 1,900 workers.


Market-research company sees uptick in Reno home prices

A market-research company predicts a slight increase in home prices in the Reno-Sparks area next year after a string of sharp declines over the past two years.

First American CoreLogic projects an appreciation in values of about 1.5 percent through October 2010.

Last month, the company specializing in real estate was anticipating a slight decrease in values of .03 percent through September of next year.

The revised forecast is the first positive projection since the Reno-Sparks market saw values plummet nationally. Area home prices fell as much as 20.8 percent in October compared with the same month in 2008.

Ken Amundson, president of the Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors, says that despite the steep drop from last year, prices have remained stable since May.


Black unemployment outpaces rate for whites, nation

Black unemployment has climbed from 8.9 percent to 15.6 percent since the recession began in December 2007, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday show.

In comparison, the nation’s overall rate has risen from 4.9 to 10 percent. The white rate climbed from 4.4 percent to 9.3 percent.

Although the gap between black and white unemployment has narrowed, there has been a 1.2 percent decline in the black labor force participation rate, more than any other group — which means that fewer blacks are even looking for work. That has held down the black unemployment rate because such “discouraged workers” are not included in unemployment statistics.

The Congressional Black Caucus recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for $139 billion in unused bank bailout funds to be spent on a long list of training programs and job-creation efforts, including jobs directly created with federal dollars.

It would be unconstitutional to designate aid or jobs specifically for blacks, so the CBC is asking for at least 10 percent of various funds to be spent in areas where 20 percent of the population is below the poverty line.


Obama meets officials from small banks, promises help

President Barack Obama welcomed the leaders of a dozen small banks to the White House on Tuesday, saying they largely were not to blame for the financial crisis and promising to help cut federal red tape so they could increase lending to small businesses.

“I think it’s fair to say that most of these community banks were not engaged in some of the hugely risky activities that helped to precipitate the financial crisis,” Obama told reporters at the end of the meeting. “At the same time, they continue to try to do their best in their local and regional markets to make sure that businesses who are now being affected by the overall recession are able to pick themselves back up.”

Obama’s kind words came a little more than a week after he described the heads of large financial institutions as “fat-cat bankers” who caused the financial crisis. Obama met at the White House with several chief executives of large banks on Dec. 14 and urged them to lend more money to small businesses to help create jobs.

But most lending to small businesses is done by the thousands of small banks nationwide, which have cut back on making loans as they struggle with bad commercial real estate mortgages and other fallout from the financial crisis and recession.

The bankers said they were not lending more partly because of tougher constraints by federal banking regulators, which have been pressing all banks to hold onto more capital to cover potential losses. Obama, noting that the regulators are independent and don’t report directly to the White House, said his administration was looking at ways to “cut some of the red tape.”

Charge for cleanup expenses leads to American Pacific loss

American Pacific Corp. of Las Vegas on Tuesday reported a fourth-quarter loss after taking an $8.2 million after-tax charge for environmental cleanup expenses.

The company said it will install more equipment to hasten removal of ammonium perchlorate from Henderson groundwater because the water cleanup is going slower than expected.

American Pacific lost $4.6 million, or 61 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, reversing earnings of $4.3 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenues fell 10.7 percent to $63.6 million from $71.2 million. Operating expenses increased $1 million to $12 million.

American Pacific shares rose 81 cents, or 10.42 percent, Tuesday to close at $8.58 on the Nasdaq National Market.

Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
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Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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