News stories about “layaway angels,” people who stop by a retailer’s layaway counter and pay off the balances of strangers, became very popular during the holiday season of 2011. They’ve since become a recurring tradition, and this year we have mostly heard about people spending five-figure amounts to pay off everyone’s balance in a show of generosity.
This week, staff at the Toys ‘R’ Us in Bellingham, MA had the tedious but completely amazing task of calling layaway customers and letting them know it was time to pick up their purchases: they had been paid off in full by an anonymous stranger. The benefector, who gave out plenty of hugs at the store but didn’t provide her name. We choose to believe that she is, in fact, Santa. Toys ‘R’ Us confirmed that she paid around $20,000 to close out all of the store’s layaway accounts.
While she didn’t talk to the media, one store employee says that the woman said that making sure local children would have toys for Christmas would “help her sleep better at night.” One local mother was stunned, having put $50 worth of toys on layaway for her sons and struggling to make the payments. “I almost wanted to cry. It was only $50, but to me that’s a lot of money, and that someone would go and do that gave me chills,” she told the Milford Daily News.
Santa also lives in Ohio, where a man visited Walmart and paid off $15,000 worth of layaway accounts, asking to focus on accounts containing toys or other items for kids.
Toys ‘R’ Us is a popular store for layaway angels to visit, which makes sense. Another shopper in Massachusetts paid off the accounts of everyone standing in line behind him in the customer service line, which cost about $1,500.
You don’t need massive stacks of money to play Santa if doing this appeals to you: a few years ago, one Consumerist reader declared paying off one family’s layaway account to be the best $100 she had ever spent.
Touched by a ‘layaway angel’ [Milford Daily News]
by Laura Northrup via Consumerist
Earlier this year, LEGO introduced a limited-edition set of minifig female scientists along with essential work equipment like a telescope and a dinosaur skeleton. They sold out quickly, and many female fans of LEGO and/or science were disappointed that the set wouldn’t become permanent. Just in time for Christmas, LEGO quietly put the set back up for sale, and they may be available permanently in the company’s retail stores.
The site says that the set will ship on December 21, but is available only in “limited quantities,” so hurry up if you want a miniature research institute of your very own. The more important piece of information on the page is the second sentence, which says:
It is coming soon to LEGO® Brand retail locations and is expected to be available within two weeks.
Could it be that the petition worked, and the Lego Research Institute will be a permanent institution? LEGO representatives didn’t get back to the New York Times, but it looks like the set will be revived for now. We might not be able to get them in time for Christmas, but life can’t be perfect.
Take it away, Jesse:
by Laura Northrup via Consumerist
While it could be debated to no end whether or not the Great Recession is over, a new report points out that consumers are still worth less money than they were before the bottom fell out of the economy.
A new analysis from Pew Research Center found that even as the economy has recovered, many households still face financial disparity and wealth inequality continues to widen along racial and ethnic lines.
According to the report, the net worth of American families – the difference between values of their assets and liabilities – fell 39.4% from the start of the recession to the purported end. Back in 2007, families had a net worth of $135,700, while they currently have a net worth of $81,400.
In addition to the different in wealth from year to year, Pew’s analysis of Federal Reserve data found a stark divide between the experience of different races during economy recovery.
From 2010 to 2013, the median wealth of non-Hispanic white households increased from $138,600 to $141,900, or by 2.4%, while median wealth of non-Hispanic black households fell 33.7%, from $16,600 in 2010 to $11,000 in 2013.
Among Hispanics, median wealth decreased by 14.3%, from $16,000 to $13,700.
Pew points out that difference in wealth can, in part, be attributed to difference in median income between races and the use of financial assets such as stocks.
Still, since the recovery started all families have faced the same issues, including the reduction of ownership of key assets, such as homes, stocks and business equity.
Wealth inequality has widened along racial, ethnic lines since end of Great Recession [Pew Research Center]
by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist
Una infografía sobre los países que más compra con el móvil.
You will find more statistics at Statista
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