Business Highlights

The Associated Press

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Stores try to make holiday shopping cheap and easy

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ This holiday season, Burger King won't be the only place where you can have it your way.

It used to be enough for stores to promise discounts of up to 70 percent to lure shoppers during the busy holiday period. But the ease of ordering online and the sluggish economy changed that. Americans are no longer impressed by discounts alone. Now they want their shopping just like their fast food: not only cheap, but convenient too.

That means they're no longer afraid to walk away from the cashmere sweater with the perfect fit if the store is crowded. They're unwilling to buy those suede pumps in just the right shade of blue if shipping costs extra. And they cringe at the prospect of carrying around paper coupons; they'd rather pull them up electronically on smartphones.

Retailers from Wal-Mart to Macy's are doing everything they can to make it easier for more finicky shoppers to spend during the holidays. Several are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Some are offering free layaway and shipping. Many are matching in-store prices with cheaper online deals. Others are allowing shoppers to buy online and pick up their merchandise in stores.

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Economy makes for tougher Thanksgiving journeys

CHICAGO (AP) â¿¿ Millions of Americans piled their families into cars, hopped on buses and waited out delays at airports Wednesday as they set off on Thanksgiving treks that many said required financial sacrifice, help from relatives to come up with airfare and hours searching online for deals.

Accepting that the road out of the recession will be long, many said they've become savvier or at least hardier travelers â¿¿ resilient enough to brave a daylong drive with the kids or a long haul by bus instead of flying. Others adjusted their travel schedules to try to save money, flying on less popular days or to airports that were a bit farther from their destination.

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