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Consumer Confidential: Retail sales, reliable cars, Whole Foods

November 15, 2011 | 10:15 am

Retail sales rose in October.

Here's your takin'-it-to-the-streets Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--We're shopping, and that's good for the economy, but we're in danger of living beyond our means. Retail sales rose in October, suggesting the economy started the fourth quarter with some zip to its stride. Another report showed wholesale prices fell during October as gas prices dropped, signaling a cooling of fuel-driven inflation pressures that have hit consumers' pocketbooks. But analysts say Europe's debt crisis could push the United States back into recession early next year. Moreover, consumer spending is rising faster than incomes, which can't be sustained. What do we need? Jobs. Lot of them. (Reuters)

--Getting a great deal on a set of wheels is one thing. Keeping those wheels running is another. So which cars are cheapest to maintain? Toyota gets the top spot for reliability, followed by Hyundai. The rankings were compiled by auto diagnostic and repair website CarMD, which collects repair data from its network of 3,000 U.S. mechanics. Rounding out the top 5 were Honda, Ford and General Motors, followed by Mitsubishi, Nissan, Kia, Volkswagen and Chrysler. Now you know. (MoneyWatch)

--Whole Foods wants to protect your little fingers while also doing some good for people abroad. The company's new initiative with Comfort the Children and Allegro Coffee allows shoppers to make a direct, positive influence on Kenyan women and special needs children through products called LIFE Jackets. LIFE (Livelihood, Investment, Financials and Empowerment) Jackets are reusable canvas cup sleeves that protect the environment as well as your hands from hot beverages. The total 99-cent cost of each cup sleeve goes straight to Comfort the Children, a nonprofit that helps poor Kenyan mothers with special needs children. Nice. (DailyFinance)

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Shoppers are coming out in force as the holidays approach. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times