News In Brief

Early figures show that online retail sales for the holiday season racked up huge gains over the same period in 1999. Bizrate.com reported reported that online sales from Nov. 20-Dec. 26 reached $6 billion, up 60 percent from 1999, although below the 80 percent increase it had projected. Meanwhile, a joint study from PC Data and Goldman Sachs estimated that holiday e-commerce sales reached $9.8 billion, up from $4.7 the previous year. The biggest winners were websites run by large, well-established stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart. With the exception of Amazon, purely online retailers didn't do as well.

Last year was the best to date for auto sales in the US, but it ended on a down note as a slowing economy pushed December figures down about 8 percent. Overall, automakers sold 17.4 million cars, pickups, vans, minivans, and sport utility vehicles in 2000, beating their record of 16.9 million set in 1999. But the major US manufacturers - General Motors, Ford, and the Chrysler side of DaimlerChrysler - saw sales decline by 2 percent. Despite Wednesday's surprise move by the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, automakers are bracing for a rough winter. Chrysler said it would idle several plants this month to cut inventories, following a similar move by Ford.

Delta Air Lines will trim its flight schedule by an average of 2.7 percent through March as it struggles to manage continuing pilot shortages, the carrier announced. Most of the eliminated flights are between cities with frequent service or are so-called "red-eyes" from Las Vegas to the East Coast. But no cities will be removed from Delta's routes, a spokesman said. The carrier, the nation's third-largest, already cut about 5 percent of its flights last month as the full effect of crew shortages became apparent. Delta's 9,800 pilots have been negotiating a new contract since September 1999.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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