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Cyber Monday shoppers jam internet

BY Doug Desjardins

NEW YORK Cyber Monday generated record volume online that caused traffic jams at some retail sites. And while the final numbers are still coming in, total sales for the day are expected to equal or exceed the $700 million forecast by research firm ComScore Networks.

According to Internet tracking firm Akamai, online traffic peaked at 4.6 million visitors per minute at the more than 300 retail Internet site it tracks. The peak traffic was 37 percent higher than Cyber Monday in 2006.

That traffic also created problems at a few Web sites. Matt Poepsel, a vice president at online research firm Gomez, reported slow checkout times at Toysrus.com, Costco.com and CompUSA.com and said smaller retailers using Yahoo reported glitches during the payment process.

As usual, consumer electronics were the main draw for online shoppers looking for bargains. Some of the deals included $50 instant savings on digital cameras at Bestbuy.com and $300 off a Garmin GPS navigation system at Walmart.com. Wal-Mart also said that it’s extending Cyber Monday for the entire week and plans to offer new bargains each day.

Shop.org, the group that coined the “Cyber Monday” phrase in 2005, expected 72 million people to shop online Monday. And while sales were heavy yesterday, Cyber Monday isn’t likely to be the busiest day of the year. The top online sales day in 2006 was Dec. 13 and on Dec. 12 in 2005. Online sales are expected to top $39 billion during the holiday season this year.

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Crayola launches product line for toddlers

BY Allison Cerra

EASTON, Pa. In an effort to make toy shopping easier for new parents, Crayola has launched a new product line to enhance a child’s sense of art.

Crayola Beginnings, the first art tools made just for toddlers’ tiny hands, are designed to fit toddlers’ hands like a glove. The egg-shaped Crayola Beginnings TaDoodles washable crayons, markers and paints let children 12 to 36 months scribble and paint up a colorful storm with shades like “please pink,” “oopsie orange” and “pattycake purple.”

The most radical change to Crayola crayons and markers in 104 years, toddlers can now explore art at a much earlier age using the playful egg-shaped characters, while building confidence, language and writing abilities, and important motor skills.

Toy Wishes magazine awarded TaDoodles First Marks markers, Crayon Buddies and All-in-One Paints a “2007 Fab 5 Award,” an honor bestowed on five innovative new toys that need only a child’s imagination to charge them up.

“The best play puts children in full control of the experience, giving them an outlet for personal expression and discovery,” said Chris Byrne, toy and children’s lifestyle expert. “Crayola Beginnings encourages parents to celebrate their toddlers’ carefree creations because by nurturing children’s art, we nurture their imagination.”

For the young-at-art and children who enjoy creating with the latest in surprising, creative activities, Crayola has something to please girls and boys of all ages this holiday season, including products like mess-free paint, sculpture-making products and even glowing board that illuminates with specific markers.

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Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club to donate $1 million to Salvation Army

BY Allison Cerra

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club associates will be kicking off the holiday season by supporting The Salvation Army.

Nationwide, the company said, its associates will participate in “Bells Ringing Across America”, a half-hour event, dedicated to raising money for the foundation by ringing the bells and inviting customers to support the annual campaign.

Wal-Mart chief executive officer Lee Scott will ring the Red Kettle bell alongside The Salvation Army’s National Commander Israel Gaither and Kellogg Company President and chief executive officer David Mackay at the Wal-Mart store in Battle Creek, Mich.

During “Bells Ringing Across America,” Scott will present a check for $1 million from the Wal-Mart Foundation to The Salvation Army to further exhibit the company’s support of the Red Kettle campaign. Additionally, Rayovac Batteries will launch its “Keep it Ringing” cross-country bell-ringing program benefiting The Salvation Army from Battle Creek on Nov. 27, and will present $250,000 to the organization.

Last year, The Salvation Army collected a record $30 million in front of Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Club locations, the most raised by any partner.

Funds donated by customers helped The Salvation Army to serve 35 million people by providing basic social services such as food, shelter, clothing and financial assistance.

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