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Consumer Confidential: Recovery picks up, Gap tests tech, J&J recalls Mylanta

December 2, 2010 | 10:45 am

Smileypic Here's your that'll-be-the-day Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Further proof that the economy is staggering back into the light: Pending sales of existing houses jumped by a record 10% in October after falling 1.8% a month before, according to the National Assn. of Realtors. Meanwhile, another report shows claims for jobless benefits over the past month dropped to a two-year low. And yet another report shows that chain-store sales topped estimates last month. All of that adds up to something that smells like recovery. Let's hope so, anyway.

--Apple uses a pretty nifty point-of-sale system when you buy stuff at its stores. Sales can get processed via iPods and receipts are printed elsewhere. This allows customers to avoid long lines and frees up salespeople to do what they should be doing -- selling. Now Gap is test-driving the technology at some of its Old Navy stores. I hope the idea catches on. Anything that allows people to avoid lines at the cash register is a plus for consumers and a plus for retailers.

--Remember when it seemed like not a day would go by without another Toyota recall? Now Johnson & Johnson is in the hot seat. The company, which has recalled millions of packages of its products this year, now says it's recalling 12 million bottles of Mylanta after traces of alcohol were found in the popular over-the-counter antacid. The recall was initiated to "update the labeling" of the bottles and not because there is any danger to consumers, the company says. The recall also involves almost 85,000 bottles of another liquid antacid product, Atlernagel.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: The economy is giving people reason to smile.