AAA holding ‘PB&T’ drive
This holiday season, AAA Arizona is hoping to spread holiday cheer with a statewide drive that aims to collect toys, as well as one of the most needed items by food banks: peanut butter. The auto club is hoping to deliver in a big way – with a goal of raising 1,000 jars of the sticky spread.
Through Friday, Dec. 4, AAA Arizona is encouraging members and non-members to donate plastic jars of peanut butter and new, unwrapped toys at any of its statewide branch locations. Peanut butter and toys donated in the Phoenix metropolitan area will be donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank and the Family Service Agency, respectively.
Toys sought in the drive include footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, baseball bats and gloves, bike helmets, children’s bikes, toy cars and trucks, board games, dolls, stuffed animals, backpacks, CD players, Disney CDs, Nerf toys, Play-Doh sets, blocks, Fisher Price toys and princess or dress-up items.
For more information visit www.AAA.com.
Holiday travelers waited longer to book flights
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Holiday travelers waited a little longer to book their flights this year, likely holding out for better deals and waiting to see if they would still have a job. And some aren’t going at all.
Travelocity reports that the average advance purchase fell to 55 days for Thanksgiving travel this year. That’s 2.6 days later than last year’s average.
People flying in late December — around Christmas — waited to buy until 88 days in advance, down from 96 days last year, for domestic trips. For international trips, the average purchase was made 7.5 days later, or 110 days in advance.
Travelers have been watching fares fall all year and may have bet they’d get a better deal by waiting.
Airlines have tried to raise fares by tacking on $20 surcharges for peak days around Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, some carriers ran sales that included the holiday travel periods, said Henry Harteveldt, an analyst who tracks travel at Forrester Research in San Francisco.
He said many of the hotels they survey report getting 20 percent or more of their bookings within a week of the arrival date.
Travelers “just want to make sure with full confidence that they’ll have the money to spend and that the price is right,” Harteveldt said. “Until we see meaningful improvement in the economy — jobs coming back, wages going up — the consumer is going to be very, very hesitant in buying any discretionary item.”
Travelocity said average domestic airfares fell 7 percent from a year ago, to $398 for departures between Dec. 20 and Jan. 3. International fares fell 11 percent to $793.
For hotel stays during that period, domestic rates averaged $172 per night, down 9 percent from last year. International hotel rates fell 8 percent to $221.
Maritz Research estimated that almost 1.6 million fewer people would travel during the holiday season. Its phone poll conducted between Oct. 15 and 21 found that about 23 percent of people plan to travel, down from 27 percent in 2005.
Why are people staying home? Financial concerns kept 31 percent home, while swine flu worries were a factor for another 14 percent. Another 14 percent said they or someone in their household had lost a job within the past year, according to Maritz.
Consumers planned to spend about $854 each on their trips, down from $1,251 in 2005, according to Maritz.