TECHNOLOGY

Union for air pilots warns about last-minute Amazon holiday deliveries

BY By Marianne Wilson

The union that represents cargo pilots who fly Amazon goods has launched online ads that warn staffing problems could lead to delayed deliveries.

The ads, set to run on Facebook and Google, link to a site called “Can Amazon Deliver?” that outlines alleged staffing issues at two cargo airlines from which Amazon leases planes, reported ReCode.

“This holiday season, Amazon customers may want to think twice before ordering last-minute deliveries,” the site reads, according to the report.

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TECHNOLOGY

Starbucks taps “Simpsons” writers for animated series

BY Marianne Wilson

Starbucks has launched its first-ever animated web series — with the help of some veteran comedy writers.

The limited-edition series, called “1st & Main," debuted on Dec. 16, on the coffee giant’s digital platforms. It features cartoon animals that hang out in a Starbucks store. The kick-off episode, “Baby Names,” follows two porcupines as they try to name their future child, with assistance from baristas calling out customers’ names written on Starbucks cups.

The lighthearted series was created by “Simpsons” writers Joel H. Cohen, John Frink and Rob LaZebnik, and Starbucks. The inspiration is real-life customers and baristas at a Starbucks outpost in Los Angeles.

The animated shorts run 75-90 seconds, and each arrives weekly at starbucks.com/1standmain through Jan. 20, with a special Valentine’s Day episode in February.

This is Starbucks’ second foray into original media content. In September, the coffee giant launched its first-ever original content series, “Upstanders,” which was comprised of short stories, videos and podcasts featuring Americans helping out in their community.

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Super Saturday could attract more shoppers than Thanksgiving weekend

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The biggest shopping day of the year is approaching, and shoppers are ready — almost 156 million, to be exact.

On Saturday, Dec. 17, 66% of Americans – an estimated 155.7 million people –plan to or are considering taking advantage of Super Saturday sales to complete their holiday gift list, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The survey, which asked 6,890 consumers about their holiday shopping plans, was conducted Dec. 1 – 7.

More people said they planned to shop on Super Saturday than those who said they planned to shop over Thanksgiving Weekend, an earlier survey revealed.

“While many consumers got a head start with holiday shopping by taking advantage of extraordinary sales over Thanksgiving weekend, more shopping and great deals are yet to come,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “We expect retailers will once again be competitive on price and value options in the final stretch, especially on Super Saturday.”

Shopper excitement is understandable when only one in 10 consumers — equivalent to 24 million people — have finished their holiday shopping. That means 90% of holiday shoppers are still in need of gifts, food, décor and/or other holiday items before the big day arrives. The average holiday shopper has completed 52.5% of their shopping, down from last year’s 53.5%, the study said.

Last-minute shoppers are planning to purchase their gifts online (52%), at department stores (42%), discount stores (27%), clothing or accessories stores (21%), electronics stores (18%), local/small business (14%) and grocery/supermarket stores (13%).

And they are always in search of a good deal — even on gift cards. Specifically, 41% of consumers receiving gift cards this holiday season will watch for a really good sale or promotion to maximize the value of the gift card. Once they receive that gift, 22% will use their card as quickly as possible, up from 20% last year. Another 19% of consumers said they will save their gift card for a rainy day or sometime when they feel they need to treat themselves, the report said.

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