TIME Companies

European Parliament Passes Resolution Calling For Breakup Of Google

Google Chief Economist Hal Varian Speaks To The Media
Getty Images

The vote went through despite U.S. concern over its politicization

The European Parliament passed a resolution Thursday by a huge margin calling for a division of Google’s product offerings, demanding that the company uncouple its search engine from its other commercial services.

The vote succeeded by an overwhelming margin of 458 to 173, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Although the resolution is a non-binding one, lawmakers are hoping it will put pressure on the European Commission, currently investigating Google’s search practices in the continent, to take action against the tech giant.

The resolution went forward despite the United States expressing “concern” over what it perceives as an unnecessary politicization of the anti-trust probe.

[WSJ]

TIME Black Friday

How a Target Store Gets Ready for Black Friday

US-ECONOMY-TARGET
A Target department store is seen in Springfield, Va., on Oct. 23, 2014 Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

Target gave a peek at how its stores get ready for Black Friday

When you show up at your favorite store on Thanksgiving night looking for that big deal on a smart TV, you will probably be too busy to think about all the work—and science—that went into prepping the place, from putting up signage, to laying out and replenishing the merchandise, to establishing safety protocols.

For a big-box store like Target, it takes pretty much a small village to make the Black Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping extravaganza go off without a hitch.

One such village is the 170,000-square-foot Target store in Westbury, N.Y., where Tony Roman, senior group vice president overseeing the retailer’s stores in Greater New York, gave Fortune a tour this week ahead of Thanksgiving. (Target stores open at 6 p.m. on the holiday.)

Below, in loosely chronological order, is how this Target gets ready in the days before Thanksgiving evening.

1. The calm before the storm

Target starts planning two months in advance, thinking about crowd control practices, scheduling workers and planning on stocking and replenishing merchandise for the biggest shopping weekend of the year.

2. Earlier in the week: Starting to put the Black Friday hot sellers on the floor

Some items that Target will push over the Black Friday weekend need more room in the store, often encroaching on space normally given to other products. Take these microwaves. The retailer will stock 40 of them on an area in heavily trafficked aisle that normally holds bedding. But it will also stock the ovens where they normally live (see below), so regulars know where to look for them. And that area is also near their temporary home so that it’s easy for staff to replenish the stock.

Target this year has added maps for each store to its app so shoppers can find where the deals are, given that many items won’t be in their usual place.

3. Earlier in the week: Changing the merchandise it showcases at the end of an aisle

“Endcaps” are what retailers call the area at the end of an aisle where they stock on popular items to capitalize on the the large amount of traffic that goes by. By the time stores open on Thursday, the Target in Westbury will have changed over 100 endcaps in the store.

4. Already done : Stacking the hot sellers like toys and TVs on the floor

A lot of the hot items like FurReal toys are on already shelves, stacked high, and on the store floor, and workers have “deboxed” many more and put them in bins for quick replenishment throughout the weekend. Such products are placed prominently on the floor too.

5. Unloading extra trucks for the bonanza

The Westbury Target is 170,000 square-feet in size, making it bigger than average. To make sure there is enough inventory, Target has already received three trucks worth of merchandise, whereas a more typical Target would get one or two trucks’ worth.

6. Wednesday afternoon: Setting up the barricades for shoppers who will line up on Thanksgiving

To make sure things proceed in an orderly manner on Thursday for the doorbusters, Target will set up barricades on Wednesday (and complete the last bit of it, right in front of the store entrance) on Thursday before the opening.

7. Overnight into Thanksgiving: Setting up the hot areas like the iPad store and install the signate

Apple’s iPad will be a hot item this Black Friday weekend, and Target is giving it its own specific line, and cash registers so things move swiftly, and don’t impede customers shopping for something else. There will be balloons to alert shoppers to the iPad area. The temporary iPad lines will be set up overnight Wednesday.

During the wee hours, shoppers will be putting up signage throughout the store indicating to customers to what’s on sale. (The bin in the picture will not feature picture frames on Black Friday. These bins usually hold softer items like bedding or pillows.)

8. Thursday afternoon: Handing out tickets to guarantee the hottest items

On Thursday afternoon, Target workers will go visit customers waiting in line and hand out tickets to those wanting to buy either of the two hot TVs the retailer is offering deals on so they are guaranteed one. The idea is to free them up to shop more and not worry about getting the TV first, or risk having the shoppers leave as soon as they get the TV.

“In the past, guests would come in, get a TV, get in line, and couldn’t continue to shop—this time, they will be able to,” said Roman.

9. Thursday late afternoon: 100 or so Target staff get ready for show time

Target will staff as many as 100 people at a time in shifts over the big shopping weekend. (Wal-Mart Stores has promised to staff every single cash register in the U.S. during peak times, so Target needs to similarly be ready.)

Soon before 6 p.m., the first shift of workers will start what will be a 30-hour shopping blitz. Show time.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

Labor Group Plans Strike of Walmart Stores on Black Friday

Operations Inside A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Location Ahead Of Black Friday
Employees assist shoppers at the check out counter of a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location ahead of Black Friday in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014 Bloomberg—Getty Images

For the third year in a row, OUR Walmart is planning a massive strike on Black Friday

Employees at Walmart stores in at least six states and Washington, D.C., plan to strike on one of the busiest shopping days of the year to protest workers’ wages and hours.

OUR Walmart, an employee labor group, announced earlier in November that workers across the country would walk out over “illegal silencing of workers who are standing up for better jobs.” The group has been hosting Black Friday strikes since 2012, but promises this year’s will be the largest yet.

The group has the support of some of the nation’s labor unions including UFCW, a grocery and retailers union, the American Federations of Teachers in New Mexico, and AFL-CIO. In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “the entire labor movement will proudly stand with the brave workers at Walmart as they lead the largest mobilization to date for better wages and schedules.”

Added Trumka: “Their courage is inspiring and powerful in the fight for all workers.”

Employees are calling for consistent, full-time work as well as a living wage of $15/hour. In a press release, Our Walmart boasts that its previous efforts against the retail giant have led the company to agree to increase minimum wages for its lowest paid workers as well as program that provides workers with greater access to open shifts.

Late Wednesday, social media reports began circulating of workers in Washington, D.C., and other cities who had already started participating in sit-ins and strikes. The group also accuses Walmart’s owners of growing wealthy on the backs of their low-wage workers.

“While many Walmart workers are unable to feed and clothe their families, the Walton family takes in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends alone to build on its $150 billion in wealth,” read a statement. “Walmart brings in $16 billion in annual profits.”

TIME Retail

Why Your Boss Will Turn a Blind Eye on Cyber Monday as You Shop Online

Most companies have given up trying to keep people from shopping at work

Braving the local mall this weekend may appeal to fewer shoppers this year than last, but online stores expect a cheery Cyber Monday. With total holiday sales forecast at $617 billion, up about 4% over last year, online shopping will jump 16%, according to the National Federation of Retailers—and more of those online shoppers will be sitting at their desks, especially if they work at tech companies.

The number of companies allowing “unrestricted access” to non-work sites has leapt 17 percentage points in just the past two years, says a new survey from staffing firm Robert Half Technology, and fewer employers bother monitoring for “excessive” web surfing. Altogether, about two-thirds (69%) have given up trying to keep people from shopping at work.

That’s not to say that the IT department is always thrilled with it. “There’s still a higher risk of corrupting the network when you have large numbers of employees visiting a lot of outside sites,” notes John Reed, RHT’s senior executive director. “But, even so, there’s more upside to allowing it than to trying to lock it down.”

One reason is that people bent on, say, the latest Disney “Frozen” doll or an Xbox One are nothing if not determined. “So it’s either a three-hour lunch for a trip to the mall, or 10 minutes online at their work stations,” observes Reed. The rise of BYOD (bring your own device) policies in most workplaces plays a part, too. “From a productivity standpoint, you gain nothing by blocking retail sites,” Reed says. “People will just use their own iPads.”

A subtler reason for turning a blind eye to online shopping is that “employees want control over their own time,” Reed notes. “So employers are trying harder to be flexible. They’re looking for any edge that will keep talent, especially tech talent, from taking a phone call from a recruiter.”

Besides, it’s tough to tell people they can’t shop online during work hours when they see their bosses doing it. More than half (53%) of senior managers—defined as “C-suite executives, vice presidents, directors, managers, and supervisors” —admit they’ll use company time to go cyber-shopping, says CareerBuilder’s 2014 Cyber Monday survey, versus 46% of professional and entry-level staffers who say the same.

If gift-buying online at the office looks like a major distraction, consider the following: It could help people focus on their work by serving as a seasonal stress reliever. A 2013 poll by the National Federation of Retailers found that 46% of women, and 78% of men, ranked in-person shopping—and battling the holiday crowds—as “more stressful than a trip to the DMV.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Retail

How Black Friday Invaded the U.K.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s U.K. Asda Supermarket Entices Shoppers With Black Friday Deals
Customers push loaded shopping carts through crowded aisles as they look for bargains during a Black Friday discount sale inside an Asda supermarket in Wembley, London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Simon Dawson—Bloomberg / Getty Images

Black Friday, long an American tradition, is becoming a British one, too

Four years ago, Black Friday was considered a distinctly American tradition, as exotic to non-Americans as the running of the bulls to non-Spaniards. “It was never even on our radar,” says Elizabetta Camilleri, CEO of SalesGossip, a web service that tracks discounts at 1,400 fashion labels across Europe.

Three years ago, Camilleri’s team first spotted a handful of Black Friday sales cropping up in London. This year, they’re witnessing a veritable American invasion.

“We’re seeing promotions from 250 branded retailers,” says Camilleri. “It literally doubled over last year.” And the deals keep coming. “We’re getting all of these retailers phoning us, saying, ‘We’ve just realized we’re doing a big promotion next week. Can we get on your home page?'”

So nearly 400 years after the Mayflower made it to Plymouth, Black Friday has taken the return trip and officially landed in the Old World. Some 65% of U.K. retailers plan to hold Black Friday sales this year, according to a survey by Barclays. Giants such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s have jumped in with aggressive, half-off discounts, while high-end boutiques, such as the clothing store Duchamp London, have shaved off 25% for the holiday.

Black Friday’s British invasion might seem odd, given that the sales revolve around an American holiday. Indeed, American retailers have considered the day so essential to their business that in the midst of the Great Depression, they lobbied to give Thanksgiving Day a little nudge on the calendar to prolong the shopping season. So how did Black Friday make the leap across the pond?

Amazon takes credit for introducing the tradition to the U.K. in 2010, though inklings of Black Friday sales could be found along one of London’s main shopping thoroughfares — Oxford Circus — as far back as seven years ago. Dan Taylor, retail manager for Duchamp London, recalls seeing Oxford Street closed to traffic and pedestrians pouring in for an embryonic version of a Black Friday sale. “It was packaged as something quite different,” Taylor says, “as ‘Christmas Comes Early.'”

Black Friday has further seeped into the U.K.’s public consciousness through a blend of media events from across the pond, global trade and plain old competition. “Everyone knows that it happens,” says Taylor. “Everyone then expects it to happen.”

This year, the shopping day got a boost from unseasonably warm fall weather. Sales of autumn apparel slackened over previous years. With fall boots and jackets taking up valuable shelf space and winter merchandise rapidly approaching, retailers had to find a way to move product fast.

“Black Friday became this holy grail of, ‘It’s going to solve all of our problems,” says Camilleri, who warns that the sales could undercut profits in the U.K. After all, Britain has already conditioned shoppers for its own version of Black Friday: Boxing Day, which falls on December 26. If retailers bookend the shopping season with steep discounts, some say, shoppers may steer clear of stores in the intervening period.

Still, there are signs that Black Friday’s spread may end at Britain’s shoreline. Retailers in continental Europe have — so far — proven immune to its charms.

“We’ve seen no sign of it happening in France or Spain,” says Camilleri. A strict regulatory environment prevents retailers in some EU nations from dropping prices outside of designated windows. But Camilleri notes a deeper instinct to resist. When she asked a German retailer if they might consider a Black Friday sale, the retailer simply replied, “We are not Americans.”

TIME Retail

7 Black Friday Haggling Secrets You Need to Know

Early Black Friday Shopping At A Target Store
Customers pick up shopping carts containing Element Electronics 50-inch light-emitting diode (LED) high definition televisions at a Target Corp. store opening ahead of Black Friday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Because paying full price is for suckers

If you’re chasing down a hot deal this week, your best bet is knowing the right way to haggle. Consumer Reports says almost nine out of 10 people who haggle over prices are at least somewhat successful.

The magazine surveyed 2,000 savvy shoppers to find out what tricks work best when you’re trying to score a steal. Here’s what they found out, along with some other insider secrets.

Comparison-shop. More than half of successful hagglers say they either tell a salesperson they’re going to check out the competition’s prices or just go ahead and scout different stores for better prices, and 42% arm themselves with circulars or coupons from competitors. With predictions about how well retailers will fare this holiday season all over the map, it’s obvious that stores will be paying very close attention to prices, and the customers who force merchants to compete on price will be the winners.

Be nice. More than four in 10 survey respondents found that friendliness is the ticket to a bargain-basement price, with 43% saying they chat up the salesperson and try to form a connection before hitting them up for a discount.

Find out what others paid. Using social media to your advantage can pay off. Almost 40% of hagglers say they scope out user reviews to find out what other people have paid for the items on their wish lists.

Don’t be bashful. Haggling isn’t just for car dealerships and furniture stores; here’s a list of situations when you should go into a transaction with the mindset that the list price is just a starting point.

Talk a good game. Consumer Reports says another way successful hagglers chip away at prices is by telling a story that turns the negotiation into a dialogue: Give them a sob story, show them how much you understand about what you’re buying, argue that a blemish lowers the item’s value or ask an open-ended question like, “How can you help me out?” That puts the ball in the salesperson’s court.

Know when to shut up. Talk about silence literally being golden: Negotiating expert Steven Cohen tells Consumer Reports a well-placed pause in the conversation can throw a salesperson off their game just a little bit and make them work harder to win your business.

Check out these tips. Negotiating experts tell TIME which tricks they keep up their sleeves when they want a better deal.

TIME Earnings

Uber Reportedly Valued at $40 Billion by Investors

Uber
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Uber’s PR troubles are not scaring off investors

On-demand ride service Uber is raising new funding at a valuation of between $35 billion and $40 billion, according to a new report from Bloomberg. This would be one of the richest “venture capital” rounds in history (Facebook still holds the crown), and likely mean that investors expect Uber to eventually go public at a valuation of at least $100 billion.

T. Rowe Price reportedly is in talks to come aboard as a new investor, while existing shareholder Fidelity Investments also would participate.

There have been market rumors that the round would be structured as convertible debt rather than preferred equity, although those rumors also were married to a $25 billion valuation. If the price has changed, so might have the security type.

It also is unclear if the round — which Bloomberg reports is designed to raise at least $1 billion — would include any so-called secondary sales by Uber employees or early investors. Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick is on record as saying that, to date, he has never sold any of his stock in the company.

Uber last raised money earlier this year, when it secured around $1.2 billion at a $17 billion pre-money valuation. Since then, it has experienced massive growth and more than its fair share of controversy. Just last week, a company executive floated the idea of creating an opposition research arm to dig up dirt on critical reporters, while another Uber executive was accused of improperly accessing and displaying a specific user’s data.

In addition to Fidelity, existing Uber shareholders include Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures, Google Ventures, TPG Capital, Summit Partners, Wellington Management, BlackRock and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Smartphones

These Are the Best Smartphone Deals This Black Friday

Apple iPhone 6/6 Plus Launch in Japan
A member of the press compares the new iPhone models at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus at the Apple Omotesando store on September 19, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Chris McGrath—Getty Images

And this Cyber Monday

Couldn’t snag a new phone earlier this fall? This weekend might be the best time — if you’re willing to brave the lines and the early wake-up times, or manage to get a good deal online. Here are a few big smartphone deals to watch out for:

Apple iPhone 6 16GB
Original price: $199 with two-year contract

Starting Friday, Walmart and Sam’s Club will offer a 16GB iPhone 6 for $179 with a two-year contract in addition a bonus $75 gift card. At Target, the 16GB iPhone 6 with a two-year contract will be sold at $180 with a $30 gift card. At Best Buy, the same iPhone 6 with a two-year contract is sold at $199 with a $100 gift card if you trade in your old iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S5
Original price: $199 with a two-year contract

At Best Buy, the Galaxy S5 with a two-year contract will be sold for $1.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Original price: $299 with two-year contract

Verizon is offering a $199 Galaxy Note 4s with a two-year contract on Friday.

Unlocked Second Generation Motorola Moto X
Original price: $499

Motorola is selling the unlocked second generation Moto X 16GB at $359 on Monday. For Verizon customers, a new Moto X is only $0.01 with a two-year contract.

Unlocked Amazon Fire Phone
Original price: $649

The unlocked Amazon Fire phone without a contract will be $199 on Amazon, and it also comes with a full year of Amazon Prime, valued at $99 — meaning the phone works out to $100, all told. It’s unclear if this is just a Black Friday deal or a permanent price change to spark the lagging Fire Phone’s sales.

TIME Money

Your Credit Score Reveals Way More Than You Realize

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Credit Balance Report teekid—Getty Images

Bad scores can be a sign of poor health

Never mind the blood pressure test: A new study finds that you can tell how healthy someone’s heart is just by looking at their credit score.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds a correlation between high credit, cognitive ability and self-control. Researchers studied health and financial data from more than 1,000 people who had been monitored since birth for nearly 40 years. They discovered that your credit does a lot more than tell a bank whether or not it should give you a loan.

Employers, insurers and even landlords regularly pull the applicants’ credit already, treating it as a proxy for a vague sort of approximation of your diligence, honesty and character. Consumer groups have raised questions about the use of credit as a way to assess things like people’s ethics, arguing that the two aren’t necessarily related.

“Credit reports were not designed as an employment screening tool,” says nonprofit group Demos. “Employment credit checks are an illegitimate barrier to employment, often for the very job applicants who need work the most.” In a survey of job-seekers, Demos found that one in seven people with blemished credit said that they’d been denied a job as a result.

But scientists insist the link is real and they have the proof to back it up. “What it comes down to is that people who don’t take care of their money don’t take care of their health,” study leader Terrie Moffitt says in a statement.

At least some of the factors that influence both health and credit have deep psychological roots. Moffitt’s team found about 20% of the correlation between credit scores and cardiovascular health can be attributed to attitudes and behaviors that are either innate or ingrained very early — the attributes in question were all observed before the participants were 10 years old.

On one hand, it makes sense that someone who exercises poor impulse control when it comes to their diet or fitness regimen might be similarly lackadaisical about their finances, but this doesn’t mean that hard-wired personality traits doom you to poor health and poor credit. Social scientists say they hope the knowledge can lay the groundwork for people to make positive changes in their lives.

“It provides hope that early life intervention can impede the development of life-long patterns of illness and financial struggle,” says Lamar Pierce, an associate professor of organization and strategy at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the study.

TIME Media

Spotify Still Doesn’t Make Any Money

SWEDEN-MUSIC-COMPANY-SPOTIFY
This photo illustration shows the Swedish music streaming service Spotify on March 7, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images

Music streaming service lost $80 million in 2013

Music streaming service Spotify likes to crow about how it hands 70% of the revenue it generates right back to artists in the form of royalty payments. Such a massive expense has led the company to be wildly unprofitable in recent years — but Spotify may be slowly crawling its way out of the red.

A new regulatory filing released in Luxembourg shows Spotify had revenues of 747 million euros (around $1 billion) in 2013, up 74% from 2012, according to The New York Times. The startup posted a loss of $80 million, but that was smaller than its $115 million loss in 2012.

Spotify has long claimed that as it gains more users, it will be able to both pay artists more handsomely and begin earning some profits itself. The company’s financial trends indicate that the plan may actually work, assuming they can keep adding new users at a steady clip.

But Spotify’s biggest threat is growing dissatisfaction in the music industry with the service’s free tier, which allows users to listen to Spotify’s entire song library while hearing a few ads in between tunes. It was this free offering that compelled Taylor Swift to remove her catalogue from the streaming service, while a Sony Music executive recently expressed concern that the free version of Spotify might deter people from signing up for paid subscriptions. The new financial figures show why Swift and others are wary of the ad-supported model: Spotify made just $90 million in revenue from its ad business in 2013, less than 10% of its overall revenue. That’s despite the fact that free users outnumber paid users on Spotify by about four to one.

Spotify maintains that many free users are eventually converted into paying customers, so the free offering serves as a valuable gateway. But it’s likely that industry players are going to become increasingly fixated on the growth in paid subscribers instead. That’s where the money is.

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