Two friends recently completed a marathon. Although they both trained in the months before the event, they generally completed their runs alone. One had time before work, the other after. But before each run the runners would press a button on their iPhones telling Nike+ to track their distance, time and calories burned. According to a recent study out of Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology, this team of runners was doing everything right. Doctoral student Brandon Irwin divided 58 women into groups. The first group worked out alone, the second worked out as a team and the third combined team exercise with virtual buddies. All workouts were completed on stationary bikes and the study completed over six sessions. Team three was told their buddies were slightly better cyclists, were shown pre-recorded videos of the women and could see their partner on a screen. The women were lead to believe the partner was in another lab. These partners, it turned out, were completely virtual

  Early holiday spending results are not eliciting much cheer from retailers or the stock market. The day after Christmas, the 2012 season is shaping up to be the worst since the 2008 financial crisis with some pegging sales growth at a measly 0.7 percent. The same period last year saw a 2 percent increase, according to a Reuters article posted not long after U.S. markets closed on Wednesday. The article, like much initial coverage of the results, offers several potential contributing factors including Hurricane Sandy and the pending Fiscal Cliff. Still physically recovering from the storm, shoppers in the Northeast didn’t resume regular shopping patterns until late November. Perhaps too late to make up the balance. Across the nation fears of going over the Fiscal Cliff remain. Worried about the tax increases that will kick in if Congress fails to reach an agreement, many Americans are cutting back this year. What does this mean for shoppers and retailers in the final days of 2012? Reuters

  Macy’s stores around the country are being loaned out as guinea pigs this holiday season. Macy’s is testing out what will likely become a national trend of major retailers staying open over nights leading up to Christmas Eve.  Late last week, Macy’s department store announced plans to extend its annual one day sale an extra 24-hours. Macy’s — the second largest retailer in the United States — has been running a last-minute shopping marathon since 2006 in one form or another. But this year select stores will be open for 48-hours leading up to Christmas Eve. This will be a among the largest last minute shopping initiatives ever take on by a major retailer. But, as Bloomberg Businessweek point out, if this experiment goes well for Macy’s other retailers are sure to follow suit next year. “For the first time ever, Macy’s will keep most stores open around the clock for the last weekend of holiday shopping, an expansion of our successful marathon that

If you are in the business of sales, or just like to shop The Horizon Business Funding Blog is the place to go this month   Each month this year The Horizon Business Funding Blog will loan its pages to a different business sector or business theme. We will look at these topics from a variety of angles, exploring the triumphs and challenges. Here you will find stories about the news coming from these industries and the news impacting them. So it should be no surprise that, in honor of the holiday season (and all the buying that comes with it), for the month of December the blog will be dedicated to retail and consumer sales. Here are a few seasonal shopping facts to get us started: Time magazine reported, that ShopperTrak estimates physical-retailors raked in approximately $11.2 billion on Black Friday This was a 1.8% drop from Black Friday in 2011. Time, however, explains the drop this way: In-store sales on Friday itself fell,

Beware of mold caused by Hurricane Sandy

Thursday, 29, November , 2012 by

Mold has become a major concern for businesses hit by the storm, we loan a few tips for dealing with this messy problem.  As electricity and heat slowly returned to the tri-state area, many home and business owners learned of new problems caused by Hurricane Sandy when she hit almost one month ago. One such issue is mold. Heavy rain and storm surges filled many usually dry spaces with inches—and sometimes feet—of water. In a booklet called Flood Cleanup and the Air in Your Home, the Environmental Protection Agency explains, “Flood water can make the air in your home unhealthy. This is because when things get wet for more than 2 days they usually get moldy. There may also be germs and bugs in your home after a flood.” Dr. Clifford Basset, an allergy specialist and a professor at New York University, wrote on FoxNews.com, “If areas of your home have been wet for two or more days, you may be dealing with a possible

Amazon.com has launched a new program called Amazon Lending offering loans to online sellers. Although the program has not been announced publicly, retailers in Amazon’s marketplace have reportedly received e-mails with offers for financing from Amazon Capital Services, Inc., a new division of the company. The new merchant financing program targets online sellers  who do not have enough up-front cash to purchase inventory to be sold on Amazon’s marketplace. Amazon Lending provides loans to participating sellers and collects repayment by taking a portion of their sales revenues. Amazon is pre-qualifying certain marketplace sellers based on their sales, and is reportedly lending up to $800,000 to some merchants. Funds can be used to purchase additional inventory. Payments are automatically deducted from merchants’ accounts on a monthly basis. Like other funding providers, including direct lenders like Horizon, Amazon is stepping in to fill the demand for loans left by banks that have curtailed lending in the years following the financial crisis. By increasing the availability of financing, Amazon

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