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A Week's Worth

Spend, spend, spend! Holiday shoppers went on a buying spree Friday, one of the year's biggest shopping days. Retail sales jumped 10.8 percent from a year ago to $8 billion, according to sales analyst ShopperTrak. Visa USA said $4.1 billion was spent on its cards, up 15.5 percent from last year.

Paperless society? Not a chance. Despite advances in technology, including e-mail, PDAs, and instant messaging, the amount of data Americans generated on paper grew by 43 percent between 1999 and 2003, according to a new study out of the University of California at Berkeley. North Americans consume an average of 11,916 sheets of paper a year. The vast majority of the paper trail is left by office documents produced on computer printers.

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Investing regrets: The biggest mistake investors say they make is waiting too long to start, according to a Merrill Lynch survey of people with incomes and assets of at least $75,000. The second most common error: holding on to losing investments. Others included not setting aside enough money to invest and not cashing in on winners. Financial advisers surveyed by Merrill listed failure to observe basic investing fundamentals, such as asset allocation or regular rebalancing, as the most common error by investors.

Let's party: Surprise! Three out of four workers look forward to the annual holiday office party. Just 3 percent dread the thought, according to a survey by Quill, an office-supply firm based in Lincolnshire, Ill.


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