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Poll Reveals Cautious Consumers

BY CSA STAFF

Costa Mesa, Calif., According to the latest Experian-Gallup Personal Credit Index (SM) survey, 32% of consumers expect to spend less this year, while just 12% expect to spend more and 56% expect to spend about the same.

“Consumers cite financial factors, especially the price of energy, but also general price increases and lower income as the major reasons why they will spend less,” said Ed Ojdana, group president of Experian Interactive. “About half of all consumers expect to spend $500 or less, while the other half expect to spend more than $500. About a third of consumers, 34%, expect to spend at least $1,000.”

In light of financial difficulties, the vast majority of consumers expect to limit their spending to the amount of money they have on hand. Only 12% say that their holiday spending will increase their credit-card debt.

About one in five households, 22%, will have extra money available this holiday season in the form of a holiday bonus from their employer. Most will use at least part of it to cover holiday expenses, while others will use some of it to help pay off current debt or make a special purchase. About half will save or invest at least part of the bonus.

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Mall Opens After Delays

BY CSA STAFF

Bellevue, Wash., Lincoln Square, a mixed-use development in Bellevue, Wash., opens for business on Tuesday after years of delays and a change of ownership. It includes 310,000 sq. ft. of retail (some of which is still being leased), 148 residential condominiums, a 16-screen cinema and the 337-room Westin Bellevue. Kemper Development Co., the developer and manager of the property, acquired Lincoln Square in August 2003 from Lend Lease Real Estate Investments.

The 1.4 million-sq.-ft. projects will ultimately include an office tower that will house the new Eddie Bauer headquarters. Construction on the tower is due to start in early 2006.

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Judge Dismisses Large Part of Wal-Mart Lawsuit Against Former Executive

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark., An Arkansas judge Tuesday dismissed a large part of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s lawsuit against its former vice chairman Tom Coughlin, saying the executive and the company had agreed not to sue one another over any events that happened during Coughlin’s tenure. Benton County Circuit Judge Jay Finch said Wal-Mart failed to show that Arkansas law required a company officer to disclose any improprieties before signing a general release from liability.

Wal-Mart had sued Coughlin this summer, saying he misspent company money before he retired in January. Coughlin remained on the board. He resigned from the board in March, when Wal-Mart disclosed it was handing documents over to the Justice Department showing that $500,000 had been misspent. Wal-Mart filed suit against Coughlin in July alleging fraud in connection with efforts to misappropriate money through bogus expenses and the unauthorized use of company gift cards.

The judge said Wal-Mart can still pursue losses that occurred after Jan. 22, when the company and Coughlin waived their right to sue over past events. Wal-Mart says it gave Coughlin $400,000 in April because of a benefits calculation error and wants the money returned.

“We grant Coughlin’s motion to dismiss that part of Wal-Mart’s complaint of all allegations occurring prior to signing the mutual release,” Finch said. “With regard to Wal-Mart’s post-release allegations, we deny Coughlin’s motion to dismiss.”

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