Despite ongoing consumer concerns about unemployment and the economy, experts are predicting a modest bump in 2013 holiday sales.
Retailers in Southern California will receive a modest boost in holiday sales this year, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
Economist Kimberly Ritter-Martinez said she estimates holiday sales nationally will increase 3.4 percent. She expects Southern California will follow that trend.
"People are feeling a little bit better about the economy," Ritter-Martinez said. "When Christmas rolls around ... people tend to try to shake off whatever any worries they might have, to the extent that their employment and income situation permits."
She said there has been a "slow but steady growth" in the economy. She said consumers are feeling better about the improving labor and housing markets. Although the government shutdown did affect consumer confidence, Ritter-Martinez said she believes shoppers will still spend money for holiday presents.
The independent film world has converged at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel. The 34th American Film Market is drawing film producers, distributors, buyers and sellers from around the world for seven days of deal-making around a wide range of films.
Around 8,000 participants registered for this year’s American Film Market, but none of them actually sleep at the Loews Santa Monica. The hotel’s beds are removed and its rooms become offices for indie production companies, looking to license and sell their upcoming films.
Buyers drop in on the makeshift offices to take a look at trailers or negotiate, say, a film’s DVD rights in Japan or TV rights in Argentina.
American Film Market managing director Jonathan Wolf estimates more than $1 billion in business is done at the trade show. He says 19 of the last 31 winners of the Academy Award for "Best Picture" were licensed or financed out of the American Film Market. Films like "Million Dollar Baby", "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy were all brought forward at the event.
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A man paints a message on a baskeball court that reads 'Help SOS We Need Food' at Anibong in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 11, 2013. Hundreds of Philippine soldiers and police poured into a city devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan on November 11 to try to contain looting that threatens an emergency relief effort.
As details continue to emerge about loss of life and those left homeless in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, relief efforts are gearing up. Many charities and nonprofits are soliciting donations to help victims and their families, but it isn't always easy to tell the difference between legitimate appeals for assistance and scams.
Before you reach for your checkbook, read what experts have to say about charitable donations.
1. Check the charity's finances
First of all, experts say it's important to take a little time to research any unfamiliar charitable organization. Make sure they are a registered with the IRS and look at the organization's finances. You can find that that information on websites such as GuideStar.
Tom Pollak, program director for the National Center for Charitable Statistics, advises potential donors to check to see if the nonprofit is financially healthy and make sure it has sufficient resources to get the job done under difficult circumstances.
"World of Warcraft" may be losing some of its popularity. The game, which launched nine years ago, has been steadily losing subscribers. At its peak, the game had 12 million subscribers. Now, it has 7.6 million, a roughly 20 percent drop from just a year ago.
But developer Blizzard Entertainment reenergized the game's biggest fans with some big reveals over the weekend at BlizzCon, one of the largest gaming conventions in the world.
More than 20,000 people were reported to have attended the two-day event. Blizzard fans heard about upgrades and expansions to "World of Warcraft," plus a brand new multiplayer game called "Heroes of the Storm," and even updates about a "Warcraft" film, which is slated for release in 2015.
Fans have known about the movie for some time, but new details were unveiled, including that filming was set to begin in Vancouver early next year, according to the Daily Mirror:
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Construction work on the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles. October national job figures show growth in construction, a key sector for Southern California.
The U.S. economy exceeded expectations by adding 204,000 jobs in October. Many analysts figured a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government last month would make a dent in the jobs numbers. The government sector furloughs might have played a role in edging up the unemployment rate to 7.3%. But the private sector persevered and kept adding jobs.
Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation said the employment sectors that gained jobs nationally are important to the LA region’s economy. Hotels, restaurants and other employers in the leisure and hospitality industry added 53,000 jobs nationwide in October, the sector's largest gain since April. Professional and business services added 44,000 new positions. The construction sector also added jobs, and Kleinhenz says that’s important because California lost a third of its construction jobs during the recession.