Consumer Confidential: Buffett lunch, sales dive, Chevy lives
Here's your FIFA-tastic Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
-- Call it the ultimate condiment: A bidder has offered just more than $1.5 million for a steak lunch with investment guru Warren Buffett. The bidder, whose identity is still secret, would be able to bring as many as seven pals to the meal, presuming no one outbids him or her by the time the auction closes Saturday on EBay. Proceeds will go to the Glide Foundation, a nonprofit group in San Francisco that provides meals and care for the homeless and people in distress. While $1.5 million is an impressive tab for lunch, even with Buffett at the table, it's still below the $2.1 million paid by a Hong Kong investor in 2008. I guess that's the recession taking its toll.
-- Just when everything was going so well: Even though we've seen a passel of recent indicators suggesting that the economy's on the mend, the latest word from the retail front isn't so rosy. Sales in May posted the largest decline in eight months, down 1.2%. While that might not sound like a lot, it's more than analysts had been expecting and suggests that consumers are circling their wagons a bit amid continuing worries about jobs and home prices. So do us all a favor: Go out and buy something this weekend.
-- On Thursday came news that General Motors no longer would refer to Chevys as Chevys. Now they'd be Chevrolets to avoid any confusion, especially overseas. Apparently the company realized it was being pretty foolish. It subsequently issued a memo saying its earlier memo had been "poorly worded" and that it wasn't really discouraging people from calling their vehicles Chevys. A company executive called the debacle "a bit of fun." Now we can all safely sing "American Pie" again.
-- David Lazarus