This 2012 “Black Friday” shopping season had more Thanksgiving day/night openings than ever before, bringing in substantial revenue even before Black Friday officially opened.

According to a report from ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based researcher, sales the day after Thanksgiving fell 1.8% from last year to $11.2 billion. This is compared to the 2011 season’s 6.6% gain from 2010. Ironically, foot traffic went up this year by 3.5% to 307.7 million store visits, the ShopperTrak report also showed.

Deloitte LLP analyst Ramesh Swamy says, “Retailers have turned Black Friday, once a one-day event after Thanksgiving, into a week’s worth of deals and discounts. With the earlier openings, online deals starting as far back as last weekend and new promotions stores are offering to win return visits, shopping malls were less hectic on Black Friday this year.”

Stores have begun giving out coupons during the Black Friday shopping period that can be used as early as December 1st, in an effort to lure customers back in once more before the shopping season ends. 1

Bachelor’s Degree Grads Returning for…Associate Degrees?

For many students, the job market after graduating with a bachelor’s degree has been bare of attractive, significant job opportunities, and to combat this many have returned for graduate school in order to boost their status, pay grade, and hopefully raise job security.

For some, however, opting out of grad school and instead enrolling in an associate degree program has been a better option. This may seem counter-intuitive, but Doug Shapiro, executive research director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center says, “There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that this is on the rise as a phenomenon.”

The National Post Secondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) declared that during the 2007-2008 school year, around 8% of community college students had already obtained bachelor’s degrees. A question becomes clear: Why spend thousands upon thousands of dollars and countless hours working toward a bachelor’s degree, just to backtrack and get an associate’s instead?

The answer: Many of the returning students have found that the majors they received their bachelor’s degrees in don’t necessarily equate to a booming job market. For example, many graduates with degrees in sociology, philosophy, etc., have gone back to become nurses, IT specialists, or medical technicians. According to a 2009 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Radiation therapists and registered nurses with associate’s degrees earn median salaries of $74,200 and $63,800 respectively.

It has become apparent that training in a specific skill set may invite greater job opportunities than the broad range of studies that bachelor’s students partake in. 2

Hostess Closing Finalized by Judge

In a last-ditch attempt to save the company, Hostess Brands failed as a bankruptcy judge gave preliminary approval to shut down the company after 82 years in business. Time finally ran out for one of America’s favorite snack manufacturers when the mediation of a pay-and-benefits dispute between the company and its Bakery Workers union went south.

The decision by Judge Robert Drain set the stage for Hostess to begin selling its assets, including bakeries, brands, and recipes. About 15,000 of its 18,500 employees will likely be terminated in the coming days, with about 3,200 remaining for various periods of time to help wind down the company. 3