Larissa Faw

Larissa Faw

Boat Rides: Fifty-six percent of Carnival’s North American cruises booked for 2015 are headed for the Caribbean, says the company.

Europe and Asia aren’t as popular.

Next year, marks the 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises and in May, the Regal Princess will have a naming ceremony featuring the original cast members of the TV series, The Love Boat, as godparents.

New Wheels: Over 90 percent of CarMax’s customers receive loan approvals of some kind in its stores.

However, whereas in the past a $13,000 loan may have had a $100 or $200 down payment requirement, now that number tends to be several hundred dollars higher today, making it a more difficult transaction for the customer.

Customers typically want to buy used cars that are two, three or four years old.

Money App: Apple’s new Pay system crosses the barrier between mobile payment and an eCommerce with in-app payment, says Visa.

Under the platform, Apple is using Visa’s tokenization solution that’s essentially a database that matches a Visa card number with a 16-digit four BIN token that will be placed in an Apple 6 or 6 Plus.

This underlying account will be stored on the phone in the hardware based secure element that will be drawn upon when everyone wants to pay at the point of sale.

Then, it allows people to use their thumb print to authenticate themselves to make an in-app payment.

Uneven Economy: Uniform rental provider Cintas is still seeing a reluctance in many of its business customers to expand operations or to add employees.

That said, Cintas has seen growth in its ancillary products and services, like mat rentals, hygiene products and services, which is made-up of air fresheners and soaps and towel dispensers and the chemical dispensing.

All are growing quite nicely.

Sales Boost: Sometimes all it takes to increase sales is to move the item to a different department. Reddi-Wip whipped cream has increased sales simply by getting displays next to fruit, says parent company Con Agra.

Phone Lines: You can get the new Apple iPhone 6 for around $199, but Blackberry is pricing its new Passport smartphone at $599.

“We have extremely good receptivity for the product,” says Blackberry’s John Chen. “It’s sold out on blackberry.com within six hours and sold out within 10 hours on amazon.com. In fact, I believe we were the number one selling Unlocked smartphone Amazon on the day that before it was sold out.”

Speaking To The Chorus: Peps Boys is revising its advertising strategy to concentrate only on the people who shop it frequently.

“It is a competitive environment both within the automotive aftermarket and for consumer spend in general and that is why we have been pushing to change our culture to improve our customer experience, changing our marketing position with customers to attract our target customers,” says Pep Boys’ Michael Odell. “But it has been challenging to attract our target customers at a faster rate than we have lost less profitable low priced focus customers.”

Tough Job Market? The Kroger Company, which operates Kroger’s, Fred Meyer and Harris Teeter is currently hiring to fill an estimated 20,000 positions in our supermarkets stores.

Also, the grocery chain is the largest retailer of wine in United States, doing about a $1.2 billion of wine each year.

Name Change: 3M is officially no longer Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. The mining part kept confusing people. So the company eliminated that name.

Part of how it measures how its performing in its innovation at 3M is something the company calls the new product vitality index.

It measures what percentage of its revenue is coming from products that have been introduced in our last years.

As of last year, one-third of 3M sales came from products that had been introduced in the last five years.

School Lessons: School reading is 50 to 60 percent of the total instructional material market for educational lesson plans, while math is another 30 percent. Other subjects, such as science and social studies, aren’t in high demand, reports Scholastic.

Grape Season: The California grape harvest for wine production is currently underway running nearly a month ahead of last year with more than 70 percent complete at this time.

The current California industry estimate is for a total harvest yield of 3.8 million to 4 million tons versus approximately 4.4 million tons last year.

The quality of this year’s harvest looks to be very good if not excellent. From a pricing perspective, brands such as Robert Mondavi continue to expect great pricing to be flat to down slightly compared to last year depending on the variety, location and demand.

Spicy Meals: In a recent U.S. study, 90 percent of adults say taste remains the top factor impacting food and beverage purchases.

Also, the influence of ethnic demographics and the increased exposure to other cultures and their food is fueling the demand for packaged spice and flavorings. Indeed, cuisine specific or ethnic fare now accounts for about 44 percent of all U.S. flavoring occasions.