Monthly Archives: December 2012
A white Christmas might be a slim possibility for much of the country this year, but at least one other ho-ho-holiday tradition is sure to be widespread.
Christmas trees are everywhere during the holiday season, as the nordic tradition has taken root and spread across all parts of the globe. But Canada‘s winter makes the country a natural home for the seasonal favourite, whether it’s real or artificial.
The number crunchers at Statistics Canada have come up with some fun facts about one of Canada’s favourite holiday traditions.
1,738,212 — Total number of fresh-cut Christmas trees that Canada exported last year. Almost half of those came from Quebec. By way of contrast, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador did not export a single Christmas tree.
$51.3 million — The total value of all fresh-cut Christmas trees sold in Canada last year. Sales were down in every province except British Columbia. Sales were down nine per cent last year and have declined by 22 per cent since 2006.
$47 million — Value of artificial Christmas trees imported into Canada. More than $46 million of that came from China, with the rest coming from Thailand, the United States, Mexico or Vietnam.
Orange, which is owned by Britain’s biggest mobile operator, EE, angered customers in the three months to the end of September after it changed the rules around its home broadband service. The company had been offering free home broadband services to its mobile customers but said in September that they would lose the free service unless they agreed to pay £14 a month to rent a telephone line from the firm.
Ofcom received around double the number of complaints about Orange than in the previous quarter, largely from customers who had expected to keep the free service until the end of their mobile contract.
“The spike in complaints came at around the same time as the company withdrew its free broadband offer, which reflects how customers felt about the changes,” said an Ofcom spokesman.
On average, 0.5 customers in every 1000 Orange customers complained about the broadband service in the three-month period, compared to an industry average of 0.24. At the other end of the spectrum, Sky and Virgin Media had the most satisfied broadband customers.
It’s hard enough to scrimp up enough discretionary cash to pay for holiday gifts. But for Ben Tischler of New York City, getting ready for the holidays also means preparing to wed his fiancee, Alicia.
It has been especially taxing since he learned that jewelry prices would be higher this season.
“Everything was more expensive than I expected. The jeweler told me the price of gold has skyrocketed,” Tischler says. “This clearly isn’t the kind of thing I can wait to buy to see if prices come back down, so I bit the bullet.”
This holiday season could be a mixed bag for consumers, retail experts say. Electronics such as big-screen televisions keep going down, but if you want that laptop that turns into a tablet — Microsoft Surface, anyone? — or that fancy new camera, expect to pay a bit more than last year. And some traditional gift items could also take more of a bite out of your wallet as stores tap into the growing trend of using well-known designers or celebrities to hawk their goods.
All in all, prices are about 2 percent higher than last holiday season, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are eight things that will cost you more this season.
With its 92-year-old football stadium starting to crumble, the University of Washington began contemplating a renovation half a dozen years ago. One financing idea — getting $150 million from Seattle-area taxpayers — ran afoul of state Representative Ross Hunter. The state was reducing college funding, and tuition was surging.
“We were cutting billions of dollars out of our budget, and we are going to build a stadium. Really?” says Hunter, 51, a Democrat from Medina who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “I was OK with saying ‘No.’”
That didn’t prevent taxpayers in Seattle and the rest of the U.S. from subsidizing the $250 million project anyway. Tax breaks on municipal bonds issued for the stadium, donations for construction and increased contributions tied to ticket purchases will cost the U.S. Treasury $154 million over 30 years, based on data compiled by Bloomberg. Without the exemptions, Athletic Director Scott Woodward says, he couldn’t have financed the overhaul.
As the school’s football team prepares for a bowl game Dec. 22 in Las Vegas, the field at Husky Stadium is dotted with earth movers and dump trucks. The construction shows how even some of the most soundly run college football programs benefit from indirect tax subsidies totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition to the deductions that helped fund this project, sports departments are exempt from taxes on ticket, television and other income generated by their stadiums.
Plans for a 45p-per-unit minimum price were set out last month and have the support of the Prime Minister. They would mean beer could not be sold for less than 90p a can while wine would cost at least £4.20 a bottle.
Carlsberg chief executive Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen said he is strongly against the idea, which follows a proposal for a 50p-per-unit alcohol pricing floor in Scotland that is now being tested in the European courts. “They’re the only two in Europe where we see this happening,” Mr Buhl Rasmussen said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.
“It could take between six and 18 months before there’s a decision so we didn’t really expect England to come out with a proposal at this time.
“But we were also surprised because we have so much evidence across Europe that price does not change or reduce abuse. What changes and reduces abuse would be education and information.