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Holiday retail sales up 3%

Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 @ 6:03 PM
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 @ 6:03 PM

Holiday retail sales rose 3 percent nationwide in 2012, less than the 4.1 percent jump initially projected by the National Retail Federation and disappointing in light of the strong start provided by Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend.

Some southwest Ohio malls, however, say they believe the stores in their retail centers beat the national averages.

Trisha Hale, general manager of the Towne Mall in Middletown, said businesses that responded to an informal survey late Monday and Tuesday indicated their sales were up about 6 percent. Hale said crowds “were pretty steady throughout” the holiday season at the Middletown mall.

Consumer spending drives roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, and retailers can generate as much as 40 percent of their annual revenue in the last two months of the year, making holiday shopping a closely watched barometer of economic health.

“For over six months, we’ve been saying that the fiscal cliff and economic uncertainty could impact holiday sales. As the number shows, these issues had a visible impact on consumer spending this holiday season,” National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay said Tuesday.

At the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek, “We saw a significant increase in foot traffic throughout the season, particularly on Black Friday and on the last weekend before Christmas,” said Bruce Goldsberry, the mall’s general manager. “It was incredibly busy here that weekend, especially on the Saturday before Christmas, which rivaled Black Friday for us.”

Goldsberry said that while he is still collecting season-end data from the mall’s retail tenants, “We anticipate we’ll be above the 3 percent national average” overall.

The Upper Valley Mall in Springfield also experienced heavier foot traffic in 2012 than it did the previous year, especially on Black Friday, when the mall opened at midnight and crowds remained robust throughout the night and the next day, according to Les Morris, spokesman for Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, the Upper Valley Mall’s owner.

Holiday sales rose more robustly each of the two years prior to 2012: 5.6 percent in 2011 and 5.5 percent in 2010. This time, after a solid spending spree over the Thanksgiving weekend, sales limped along until the final days before Christmas, when stores were forced to discount more heavily than they had planned in order to woo back shoppers.

In another mildly encouraging measure of consumer confidence announced Tuesday by the U.S. Commerce Department and not focused so tightly on holiday spending, U.S. consumers increased their spending at retail businesses in December, buying more autos, furniture and clothing.

Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in December from November, the Commerce Department said. That’s slightly better than November’s 0.4 percent increase and the best showing since September.

Sales of autos and auto parts rose 1.6 percent to lead all categories. Car companies closed out their best sales year since 2007.

Electronics sales were disappointing. NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said said overall December sales “could not make up for shortfalls in certain categories like electronics.” Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 0.4 percent compared to last year’s sales, although it wasn’t clear how falling prices on items such as flat-screen televisions may have impacted the sales numbers.

Retailers received a boost from online sales this holiday season. The commerce department and the NRF said “non-store” holiday sales grew 11.1 percent from the previous year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Lesbian couple beaten, held captive for days over borrowed car, police say

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 1:45 PM

Borrowed Car Leads to Lesbian Couple Being Attacked, Held Captive

Three Indiana men and a woman have been booked on more than 30 separate criminal charges in connection with the alleged beating and kidnapping of a married lesbian couple.

One of the men, Kenneth Allen Braswell, 32, is charged with raping one of the women, according to Indianapolis jail records. Braswell is also charged with criminal confinement, kidnapping, battery with a deadly weapon, battery resulting in bodily injury and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Police have charged Jose Antonio Nieves, 35, and Thomas James Bell, 26, with crimes that include kidnapping, criminal confinement, battery, intimidation, possession of meth and carrying a handgun without a license. Melissa Richards, 29, is charged with multiple counts of criminal confinement and battery.

>> Read more trending news

The Indianapolis Star reported that an affidavit filed in the case states the couple traveled from Terre Haute to a home on the east side of Indianapolis the morning of Nov. 10 to do heroin. Fox 59 in Indianapolis reported that the house was Richards’ home. 

One of the women borrowed Richards’ Mustang to visit her son about 20 miles away in Danville, the news station reported. The women said that Richards became angry when the car wasn’t returned quickly enough. 

“I’m keeping your wife until I get my car back,” Richards said, according to the affidavit

The woman still at Richards’ house told police she was bound with duct tape, pistol-whipped and left in a large closet, the Star reported. She said that, at some point, she felt someone pulling her pants down.

The woman told detectives that Braswell raped her, the Star said. 

“If you scream, I’ll hurt you,” he told her, according to the affidavit

The woman said that her captors then took her to the basement, where she was beaten some more, Fox 59 reported. On Nov. 11, some of the accused retrieved the Mustang, along with the wife, who they forced to go with them at gunpoint, the affidavit said. 

When they got back to Richards’ house, the woman was placed in the basement with her wife, where she was also beaten, the document said. 

The women said they were held in the basement until Nov. 14. They were given food and water once, but could not eat due to their injuries, police said. 

The Star reported that the affidavit described bruises and cuts on both women’s faces. One of the women also had a broken collarbone. 

One of the victims described watching as the group beat her wife, who fell to the ground.

“I didn’t know if she was alive anymore,” the woman said, according to the affidavit

On Nov. 14, Nieves and Bell are accused of putting both women in Richards’ Mustang for a drive to Bargersville, where, one woman told police, Nieves talked about killing them, the Star said. She said Nieves claimed he knew someone there who would help bury their bodies.

On the way to Bargersville, the Mustang blew a tire, the Star reported. They pulled into a convenience store parking lot, where the women said Nieves tried injecting himself with heroin.

The women asked to use the bathroom, the affidavit said. When Nieves allowed them to go inside the store, the women begged the clerk to call police.

The women locked themselves in the bathroom until police arrived, the Star reported

Nieves and Bell were arrested outside the convenience store, while Braswell and Richards were taken into custody at Richards’ home. 

The Star said that detectives searching Richards’ home confiscated a bloody towel, along with bloody sweatpants found in the closet where one victim said she was raped. There was also a large pool of blood on the basement floor. 

In the Mustang, they found two handguns, duct tape, a machete and two cellphones.

Braswell, Nieves and Richards remained in the Marion County Jail on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear when Bell was released. 

Court records show that Braswell, Nieves and Bell are scheduled for a Jan. 22 trial on the charges. 

Young woman vanishes after online date, family fears the worst

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 6:06 PM

A missing person flyer is tacked to a pole in a neighborhood. The family of Sydney Loffe is distributing flyers as part of an effort to find the missing 24-year-old Lincoln, Neb., woman, who was last seen on Wed., Nov. 15.
Pixabay
A missing person flyer is tacked to a pole in a neighborhood. The family of Sydney Loffe is distributing flyers as part of an effort to find the missing 24-year-old Lincoln, Neb., woman, who was last seen on Wed., Nov. 15.(Pixabay)

A 24-year-old Lincoln, Nebraska, woman has been missing for several days following a date with someone she met online, and now police are calling the circumstance surrounding her disappearance “concerning.”

>> Read more trending news

>> Related: Police make gruesome discovery after teacher bails her boyfriend out of jail and disappears 

Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Jeff Bliemeister spoke to local media Tuesday and urged residents to continue looking for Sydney Loofe as the department conducts interviews and pieces together the events that led to her her disappearance, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Police confirmed that Loofe was last seen in Wilber, 40 miles southwest of Lincoln, on Wed. Nov. 15.. according to the Star.

Suspicion grew when she missed work the following day at a Lincoln grocery store where she is a cashier after apparently going out on a date the night before, her parents said. Loofe sent a Snapchat message saying she was “ready for my date” just hours before she disappeared.

Her family said she sent the Snapchat message about going on a date with a woman she met online, and that she was definitely “planning on coming home that night.”

She also left her cat and car at her home in Lincoln, her family said.

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Loffe’s family is circulating a flyer that suggest they fear she was abducted. The flyer indicated that her phone pinged off a cellphone tower in the Wilber area, but that it has since been turned off.

Her parents, Susie and George Loofe, find it suspicious that her phone is off, and that her cat and car were left at home.

Lincoln police have declined to say if they have spoken to the person Loofe was going out with that night or where in Wilber she might have been.

“Really what our focus is on at this point is trying to find Sydney,” the police chief Bliemeister said. “And to go out and to detail every investigative aspect really, I think, is going to detract from the overall message of, ‘We’re trying to find her as quickly as possible.'”

Police are asking anyone with information on Loofe’s whereabouts to call 402-441-6000.

>> Related: Teen who disappeared with her teacher says it was wrong, but she doesn’t regret it

Loofe is 5-foot-7 and weighs 135 pounds. She was last seen wearing a white Columbia jacket and a cream-colored shirt. She has a yin-yang tattoo on one of her forearms, the word “Believe” with a cross on the inside of her left wrist, and the phrase “Everything will be wonderful someday” on her right bicep.

$2K+ of suspected stolen merchandise recovered in bust

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 1:37 PM

$2K+ of suspected stolen merchandise recovered in bust

A 21-year-old Columbus woman is facing theft charges after police said they recovered more than $2,000 worth of suspected stolen merchandise from the vehicle she was driving.

Satia Dunson, of Columbus, is charged with theft and possession of criminal tools and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

German Twp. Police spotted Dunson’s vehicle Nov. 8 and noticed she had a warrant for larceny out of Huber Heights. 

LOCAL NEWS: Paid suspension for local teacher accused in fatal hit-and-run crash

Dunson was pulled over in the area of the Dunham Sports, 1600 Upper Valley Pike, where she was taken into custody.

Police said they “noticed a large amount of clothing that was inside the vehicle that had security tags on them, still had the hangars on them.”

“It was obvious they had been out shoplifting,” said Lt. Russell Garman with the German Twp. Police Department.

Dunson’s trial is scheduled for January.

Sidney police search for missing teen

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 4:31 PM

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Sidney police are asking for helping finding a 15-year-old girl who was last seen Wednesday morning.

Avonell Martin, 15, was last seen around 7:45 a.m. when she stopped by a friend’s house to say goodbye and that she was heading to Cleveland, according to police.

LOCAL NEWS: Driver, dog killed in 3-vehicle crash in Greene County

Martin was the passenger in a silver or grey 4-door mid-size car with tinted windows, police said.

The teen is described as being 5-foot-4, 128 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.  She was last seen wearing a black and blue coat with blue jeans.

Anyone with information on Martin’s whereabouts is asked to contact Sidney police at 937-498-2351.