Last Minute Valentine’s Day Plans

Today is Valentine’s Day! Now don’t panic if you’re still working out some plans and/or gift ideas. I have some tips for you! (Just so you know, this week’s blog is not directed at my husband, who’s always very good at making plans. Love you, hun! Happy Valentine’s Day!)

If you haven’t thought much about what to do today, here are a few ideas, from hitchedmag.com:

  • Create Something Together: Make a scrapbook or time capsule with your partner or children, parents, or friends, and fill it one with meaningful mementos. (The “time capsule” could be just an old coffee or box can that you place in the closet and open on a significant anniversary/day.) So all that sentimental stuff – photos, old movie tickets, take out menus, etc. – that Marie Kondo is encouraging you to toss out you can instead put in the time capsule or scrapbook. Talk about sparking joy!
  • Make A Romantic Meal at Home: Cook something that’s simple and serve the meal on a candlelit table. Play some soft, relaxing music in the background. And make sure to help your loved one clean up after the meal.
  • Go On A Picnic: If you live in a warm climate, take your valentine outside and enjoy some sandwiches and snacks. If you live in a colder part of the country, take your picnic inside; place a few blankets on the floor, and enjoy your meal right there.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be dinner out at an exclusive restaurant or expensive jewelry or a big box of chocolate, although those things are pretty nice! Valentine’s Day just means spending time with a loved one (or loved ones).

We’re all crazy busy and so don’t always appreciate the people in our lives. So make this day special for the special people you know and love.

Oh, and don’t forget to record anything you buy your valentine, like flowers, candy, apparel, etc.

Have a very happy Valentine’s Day!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Millennials And Online Shopping

Are you a Millennial? If not, do you know a Millennial?

Well it seems that Millennials – anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019) – really like to shop online.

Millennials are certainly more active on social media than older generations, and this impacts how they look for information as they shop. For example, Millennials are much more likely than the general population to “conduct online research for common items like food and cleaning products,” according to The Nielsen Company.

And Millennials aren’t just doing research, they’re also buying a lot of consumer packaged goods (basically, anything packaged with a barcode). Check out this chart – based on NCP data – regarding the percentage who purchased consumer packaged goods online in the past three months:

How do Millennials – and others – get online? Well, according to Nielsen data, Millennials are “highly mobile, and their smartphones are increasingly becoming their go-to devices when it’s time to shop.”

This is how the various demographic groups get online, according to Nielsen:


Since so many Millennials, and other groups, shop online, here are some tips for recording those very purchases!

  • Online purchases may come in one or multiple shipments and don’t always include a packing receipt. Consider printing out your email/order confirmation so you can refer back to it when reporting your purchase.
  • If your items do come separately, please scan them as you receive them.
  • If an item arrives with the UPC barcode covered by another label, try carefully peeling off that label and scanning the UPC barcode on the item (or manually enter the barcode number if the barcode is damaged).
  • If you buy something from the website of a retailer that also has a storefront, make sure to report the trip as an online purchase. For example, if you order something from Walmart’s website, select “walmart.com” when you record the purchase (whether the item was shipped directly to you or picked up at the store).

As always, thank you panel members for reporting all of your purchases, especially the online ones.

Have a great weekend!

Will The Groundhog Give Us A Break From This Bleak Weather?

Well, it’s almost Groundhog Day. And that means if the little critter sees his shadow there’s only six more weeks of winter. Or is it if he doesn’t see his shadow there’s six more weeks of winter?? I always get confused.

But anyway … With much of the country in a deep, deep, deep freeze, any thoughts of winter being over and done with works for me! It’s been ridiculously cold in many parts of the country.

So let’s hope for an early spring as we await the “official” word from our groundhog friend.

Did you know that Groundhog Day marks the halfway point to the spring equinox? Here are some other facts about the day and the little guy himself, from The Old Farmer’s Almanac (almanac.com):

  • According to legend, if a groundhog sees its shadow on this day, there will be six more weeks of winter; if it doesn’t, then spring is right around the corner. But, as the Almanac says, “If he sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter; if he doesn’t, it’ll be six weeks till spring” because, of course, the dates of the equinox do not change.
  • Groundhog Day also represents “the triumph of spring over winter—and birth over death.” Originally, this was a Celtic festival marking the cross-quarter day, or midpoint of the season.
  • The Christian church later called this festival of light, “Candlemas.” The English name refers to the candles lit that day in churches to celebrate the presentation of the Christ Child in the temple of Jerusalem.
  • In the 1800s, German immigrants to Pennsylvania brought their Candlemas legends with them. Finding no badgers but lots of groundhogs, they adapted the New World species to fit the lore.
  • The groundhog, also known as a woodchuck or whistlepig, typically makes its home in the brambles and thickets that grow where forests meet fields. There, it digs burrows between 4 and 6 feet deep and up to 40 feet long—removing as much as 700 pounds of dirt in the process.

Now if you’re curious about the long-range weather forecast in your area of the country, check out this page on The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s website: www.almanac.com/weather/longrange

Stay warm my friends! And have a great weekend. And go Rams!

Best regards,

Taylor

Announcing The Winners Of The New Year’s Resolution Scavenger Hunt

Always a “crowd favorite,” our latest Scavenger Hunt contest has just ended. Did you find the images for the New Year’s Resolutions?

OK, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, the goal of this sweepstakes was to go through my 2018 blog postings and look for the six New Year’s Resolution-related images (graphics) that I had “planted” within specific blogs.

We had a lot of entries! Each of them were reviewed, and those that had all six correct answers were entered into the sweepstakes. We then randomly selected five winners.

Congratulations to these five individuals who will each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code. (The winners have already been alerted via email.)

  • Amy F. / puddin …
  • Chantel R. / rodrig …
  • Cheryl A. / cheryl …
  • Julia W. / 1870ju …
  • Lesley S. / stee …

Note: For privacy, we only used the first few letters of their email addresses.

Here are the blog postings where the six images were located:

Eat Healthy

Putting Gas In The Car? Record It! (Posted on July 27, 2018)

 

Exercise More

Have You Seen Any Good Movies Lately? (Posted on March 2, 2018)

 

Lose Weight

Dealing With Winter (Posted on January 12, 2018)

 

Save Money

Buying Books (Posted on November 30, 2018)

 

Travel More

A Lesson Learned Is A Lesson Shared (Posted on June 29, 2018)

 

Learn A New Skill

Are You Scanning Every Shopping Trip? (Posted on September 14, 2018)

 

Have a great weekend! For those of you who made resolutions, I hope you’re keeping them!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Commemorating MLK Day

Monday, January 21, is Martin Luther King Day. Our office, along with many other companies, banks, libraries, and the post office, will be closed.

So this is a good time to check out some facts about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the holiday that bears his name.

Facts about Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • King was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when he won it at age 35. That record was broken in 2014 by a 17-year-old activist named Malala Yousafzai. 
  • At the Atlanta premier of the movie Gone with the Wind, Martin sang with his church choir.
  • He went to college at age 15 and became a minister at 19. He had his doctorate degree by age 25.
  • There are over 730 streets in the United States named after Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The name on his original birth certificate is Michael King, which was a mistake. He was supposed to be named after his father who was named for Martin Luther, the leader of the Christian reformation movement.

Facts about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, according to theodysseyonline.com:

  • MLK Day is only 1 of 3 national holidays in the U.S. honoring an individual person. George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are the only individuals with national holidays honoring them. President’s Day, although commonly attributed with Lincoln’s birthday as well, was chosen because of Washington’s Birthday and was originally in honor of him alone.
  • MLK Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January because of King’s birthday. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. MLK Day is celebrated on the third Monday of each January because it is close to his birthday.
  • MLK Day is observed by groups in over 100 nations.

PSC Closed On Monday
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, our office and the Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday.

Remember To Take Part in Our New Year’s Resolution Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes! 
Don’t forget, this scavenger hunt is still going on until Wednesday, January 23.

Similar to our other scavenger hunt sweepstakes, I’ve hidden images in past blog posts for you to find. All you need to do is go through all of my blog postings from 2018 and look for the six New Year’s Resolution-related images (graphics).

When you find any of the images listed (salad, scale, etc.), make a note of the blog post title where you found the image. After you have found all of the images, go to the link below andfollow the instructions. 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCPBlog_ResolutionSweeps

I hope you have a nice weekend.

Take Part in Our New Year’s Resolution Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? If so, have you kept it so far? (If you did make a resolution, tell us about it!)

Whether or not you made a resolution, make this resolution to play our New Year’s Resolution Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes!

Similar to our other scavenger hunt sweepstakes, I’ve hidden images in past blog posts for you to find.

Your goal: Go through all of my blog postings from 2018 and look for the six New Year’s Resolution-related images (graphics) described below:

New Year’s Resolution                        Image To Find

·     Eat Healthy                       Salad

·     Exercise More                    Sneakers

·     Lose Weight                         Scale

·     Save Money                         Piggy Bank

·    Travel More                          Luggage

·    Learn A New Skill                Musical Instruments

When you find any of the images listed (salad, scale, etc.), make a note of the blog post title where you found the image. After you have found all of the images, go to the link below and follow the instructions. 

Go here to post your responses: 

surveymonkey.com/r/NCPBlog_ResolutionSweeps

Here are some other important details:

  • To be eligible, you must provide the exact title of the blog posting. (You may find it easier to copy and paste the exact title into the response field.) You do not need to include the date of the posting.
  • From all of the correct entries, five (5) winners will then be selected in a random drawing. Each winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code! (Please make sure to give us your contact information.)
  • The contest ends on Wednesday, January 23.

Please check out the rules.

Make sure you stick to this resolution! Good luck!

Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards (“GCs”) cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

Never Too Late To Go Holiday Shopping

Have you finished your holiday shopping? Have you even started it yet? (Don’t mean to be all judgy, but you better get going soon!)

How are you doing with your holiday shopping? Let us know!

This may not surprise you, but many, many people will still be shopping through Christmas Eve. (My husband being one of them!)

According to a really interesting survey from the National Retail Federation, more than 40% of holiday shoppers surveyed expected to finish their holiday gift shopping by Wednesday (12/19).

However, according to the National Retail Federation, 24% plan to make their last purchases Saturday or Sunday and 7% said they will still be shopping on Christmas Eve. And 4% said their final gifts wouldn’t be bought until after Christmas.

The survey found that 56% of holiday shoppers – about 134 million people, up from 126 million last year – plan to shop this weekend on “Super Saturday,” the last Saturday before Christmas.

Of consumers who had completed half or less of their shopping, 44% said they were still deciding what to buy, up from 42% last year. Meanwhile, 27% were waiting for family members to share their requests, while 26% cited other financial priorities, 25% were too busy with other activities, and 22% admitted being procrastinators, according to the National Retail Federation.

As of December 12, consumers still shopping planned to make their remaining purchases online (51%), at department stores (41%), discount stores (25%), apparel stores (21%), electronics stores (17%), local/small businesses (14%), and grocery stores (13%).

The survey also found that 53% of consumers have already purchased clothing as gifts; 38% gift cards; 37% toys; 32% video games, books, and movies; 24% food or candy, and 23% electronics or computer-related accessories.

No matter what you buy or where you buy it from, please remember to record all of your holiday – as well as your regular – purchases!

I wish you all the best. Hope you have a happy and healthy New Year!

I’ll be talking with you again in January. (Here’s a little teaser – we’ll be having a new contest early in 2019!)

PSC Holiday Closings
The Panel Support Center will be closed on the following days:

  • Monday, December 24
  • Tuesday, December 25 (Christmas Day)
  • Monday, December 31
  • Tuesday, January 1, 2019 (New Year’s Day)

Our PSC would like to wish you and your family all the best this holiday season and in the New Year!

Check Out Our Redesigned Blog!

I’m sure you noticed we have a new look. We just thought we’d spruce things up a bit. I hope you like it!

We’ve also included new links on the menu bar:

  • If you’re not a panel member and would like to become one, just go to the Join NCP page.
  • If you have a question about your panel membership, see the Contact NCP page for ways to contact our Panel Support Center.
  • Finally, if you have a question for me, well, that’s easy! Just go to the Contact Taylor page.

Please! Please! Please! If you have an issue with scanning and transmitting, or any other aspect of panel membership, contact the Panel Support Center directly. They will be better able to help you in a timely manner than if you contact me.

OK, so we’re all really busy this time of year. But I want to remind you to scan, scan, scan!

For some retailers, the holiday season can represent as much as 30 percent of annual sales. So now is the time to make sure you’re recording every single one of your purchases – this information is, as you know, so critical for both manufacturers and retailers.

Here are some scanning tips to help you:

  • Before you wrap that special gift you bought for a friend or family member, don’t forget to give the barcode a quick scan to record the purchase. But, you do not need to record gifts that YOU receive.
  • The best time to scan your purchases is as soon as you get home from a shopping trip. This way the purchases are fresh in your mind! Use your receipt as a guide.
  • Make sure to scan the actual barcode on the items purchased, and not the receipts from the stores!
  • On-the-go purchases and gifts, like a bottle of liquor picked up on the way to a party, pose a unique scanning challenge. So instead of asking for the empty bottle to go, just write down the barcode numbers on the back of the receipt and key the entry when you get home.
  • Many coupons have barcodes on them. Of course we want you to tell us about any coupons you use, but please do not scan the barcode on the coupon. Although the scanner may accept the barcode, the information is not readable to us.
  • If the store you shopped at does not appear on your Store List, use a Store Type category, for instance, Drug Store, Department Store, Pet Store, and Restaurant. If you still can’t find the right Store Type, use All Other Stores. Even though you won’t be telling us the specific store, we can still use these information, plus you’ll be credited with having provided us with a shopping trip!
  • Online purchases may come in one or multiple shipments and don’t always include a packing receipt. Consider printing out your email/order confirmation so you can refer back to it when reporting your purchase.
  • If your items do come separately, please scan them as you receive them.
  • If an item arrives with the UPC barcode covered by another label, try carefully peeling off that label and scanning the UPC barcode on the item (or manually enter the barcode number if the barcode is damaged).
  • If you buy something from the website of a retailer that also has a storefront, make sure to report the trip as an online purchase. For example, if you order something from Walmart’s website, select “Walmart .com” when you record the purchase (whether the item was shipped directly to you or picked up at the store).

Thank you in advance for making sure to scan all your purchases!

Have a great day!

Don’t Forget Your Pets This Holiday Season

Along with giving gifts to the humans in their life, many people also wrap up little surprises for their pets. I’m one of those people. I know there are a lot of other people who do the same!

According to a survey conducted by Rover.com, 95% of pet owners admit to having purchased a holiday gift for their pet. Christmas is, unsurprisingly, the most popular pet-rewarding holiday, ahead of their birthdays (which 61% surveyed admitted to giving on) and Valentine’s Day (11%).

The survey found that gifts average about $36, and that about 5% of respondents said they’d bought something that cost over $100. Meanwhile, 33% of all respondents said that they get their pet a present on every holiday and birthday.

According to survey cited by express.co.uk,

  • 54% of pets will have a Christmas stocking
  • 29% will receive a Christmas card from their humans even though they can’t read
  • 16% say their pets will be featured on their Christmas cards
  • 40% of pet owners confess to giving other people gifts and putting their pet’s name on the gift as the gift giver

If you buy gifts for your pets, what do you get? Do you sign your pet’s names on your holiday cards and gifts? Does your dog or cat or bird or fish have a stocking? Is your pet on your holiday card? Let us know!

As usual, please remember to record all of your purchases, even the gifts you buy your pets.

Have a great weekend, and happy shopping!

Buying Books

When asked what I want as a gift for the holidays, I often give out a number of book titles. I love to read, or at least listen to audio books on the way to work.

So the question becomes – print, e-book, or audio book?

I usually tell them to surprise me, since all those types work for me! (But honestly, I prefer a printed book. For me, it’s a sensory delight to be able to touch, smell, and see something in book form.)

According to pewresearch.org, about three-quarters (74%) of Americans have read a book in the past 12 months in any format. Print books remain the most popular format for reading, with 67% of Americans having read a print book in the past year.

Relatively few Americans consume digital books – which include audiobooks and e-books – and not read print books, according to pewresearch.org. Just 7% of Americans said they only read books in digital formats and have not read any print books in the past 12 months. In particular, 10% of 18- to 29-year-olds only read books in digital formats, compared with 5% of those ages 50-64 and 4% of those 65 and older, according to pweresearch.org.

So, how many books have you read in the past year?

Have you purchased print, e-book, and/or audio books in the past 12 months? If so, what do you usually buy?

Do you prefer to read e-books or print books or listen to audio books?

Let us know!

Record Your Book Purchases
So if you buy a book, e-book reader, or audio book as a gift (or for yourself!), please remember to scan the purchase.

Many books have UPC barcodes. However, don’t scan any store barcodes that may have been placed on the book; only scan the UPC barcode.

Happy shopping!

 

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