Going Online Shopping?

Have you gone shopping over the past few days? I did, and I certainly was not alone.

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 190 million consumers shopped between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Of that, about two-thirds visited physical stores while three-quarters shopped online. On Cyber Monday alone, shoppers spent a record $9.4 billion online, according to data released by Adobe Analytics. That was a nearly 20% jump from last year and the biggest U.S. online shopping day of all-time.

Black Friday for its part had $7.4 billion in online sales, making it the third-largest online sales day ever, after the last two Cyber Mondays, according to Adobe data. 

What about you? Tell us about your recent shopping (online or otherwise) experiences by leaving a comment or two!

Since so many of us are doing more and more shopping online, now is a good time to review the best ways to report these 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).

Whether you buy something in a physical store or online, please remember to tell us about it.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Thanksgiving Tidbits


It’s here again! Turkey day is coming soon and you know what that means! Hopefully lots of family/friends, food, and fun.

This year our family is hosting, and we expect a lot of people! We’re going to have to break out a few card tables to accommodate everyone. They’ll be a lot of preparation involved, but fortunately I’ll have a lot of help.

How about you? What are your plans for Thanksgiving? What about Black Friday – going shopping? Let us know by posting a comment.

You know we all love some good info. Well, here are some Thanksgiving tidbits from the folks at wallethub.com:

  • 96% of Americans say they celebrate Thanksgiving
  • $552M+ estimated amount spent on Thanksgiving turkeys each year
  • 73% of U.S. adults agree that a fridge full of leftovers is the best thing about hosting Thanksgiving
  • 3,000 – 4,500: Average number of calories consumed on Thanksgiving
  • 9% of Americans eat their Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant
  • 72% of Americans plan to attend a Thanksgiving dinner with 5 or more people
  • Americans’ favorite Thanksgiving dishes:
    • 39% turkey
    • 23% stuffing
    • 12% pumpkin pie
    • 9% mashed potatoes
    • 6% sweet potatoes
    • 3% cranberry sauce
  • Thanksgiving shopping trends
    • $313+ Average person’s spending over the five-day Thanksgiving period
    • 165M+ shopped over the five-day Thanksgiving period in 2018
    • 57% of people buying holiday gifts got clothing or accessories
    • 34% of Thanksgiving shoppers bought toys in 2018
    • $3.7B: Amount spent online on Thanksgiving Day in 2018 (28% increase over 2017)
  • Thanksgiving weekend traveling trends
    • 54.3M+ Americans will travel this Thanksgiving holiday (most since 2005)
    • 89.4% of travelers will drive to their destinations
    • 7.8% of Americans will fly to their Thanksgiving destinations

If you are one of those millions of people traveling by car this weekend, you’ll probably need to put some gas in the car. So please don’t forget to record the purchase. Just use the Gas listing in the Barcode Reference Booklet (Barcode Reference Booklet) if you use one of our handheld scanners, or if you’re an NCPMobile App user, use the Non-Barcoded Items list in the app. (NCPMobile people: Please do not use the Barcode Reference Booklet! Thank you.)

Note: Use Gas Trip Only designation if you just purchased gas during a trip to the service station. Use Gas With Purchase when the gasoline is purchased along with other items from the gasoline station’s convenience store. Only enter the price paid for the fuel. For all other items with a barcode, please record them as usual.

Also, let us know if you’re going to be away for a while by contacting the Panel Support Center at 800-962-6700. (If you have the NCPMobile App, you can use it while you’re away!)

Finally, I want to remind everyone that we are closed on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, Nov. 29. The Panel Support Center will be open on Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Have a very happy and safe holiday!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Thanksgiving Tidbits



Refrigerator Clean Up Time

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for! It’s National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!!!

I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this amazing day! (That’s not too sarcastic, is it??)

Anyway, I look at this as one of those necessary evils in life; things you really don’t want to do, but you know it’s a good idea to do them. This is especially true as we head toward Thanksgiving and the end-of-year holidays, when you might be doing a lot of cooking and also need room for a lot of leftovers.

WARNING! Be prepared for some surprises, most often found in the very back of the refrigerator. (“YUCK! What is that?!?!”)

OK, so let’s get into the nuts and bolts of cleaning your refrigerator. (We won’t worry about workplace refrigerators here – they’re often a lesson in grossness.)

Here are some great tips from the Michigan State University Extension:

  • Dispose: Start by taking everything out of the fridge. If you think the cleaning process will take you more than an hour, have a cooler handy for perishables. Check dates for expired foods, and start tossing! The United States Department of Agriculture has created a storage chart for recommendations of how long to keep leftovers. (https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts)
  • Consolidate: If you have two half-empty jars of the same item, combine them to save space. Just make sure one of them has not out lived its expiration date.
  • Dismantle: Take out shelves and drawers so you can give the inside of the refrigerator a good, deep cleaning with hot, soapy water. Wipe down the interior, wash the shelves and drawers, clean up all the drippings and spills and let everything air dry before reassembling. (Make sure to wash underneath everything, too!)
  • Get the door: Make sure you clean all the pockets on the door, wipe down the seal around the edge of the door and do not forget to clean the handle and front of the appliance.
  • Keep it clean: Michigan State University Extension recommends removing any expired food from the refrigerator once a week and placing a container of baking soda in the refrigerator to help control odors.

Also, take this opportunity to vacuum condenser coils and under the fridge, too. (But PLEASE unplug your refrigerator before doing any vacuuming.)

OK, so now that you’ve purged all the moldy, out-of-date stuff from the fridge, it’s time to get better organized, so you don’t have to go through that horrifying experience of undertaking a massive fridge cleaning.

According to the Michigan State University Extension, label and date what is in your leftover containers; this way you know what you are saving for another meal. By doing this, you’ll know exactly what you have in the container.

Consider starting an inventory sheet. This is helpful when it comes to using remaining leftovers and meal planning. Tips like these help reduce waste, save money and keep your family from experiencing a possible food poisoning.

Now, if you’re wondering where the idea for National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day came from, one theory is that a major appliance manufacturer created the day in 1999 to encourage people to clean out their refrigerator in advance of the upcoming holidays. At that time, the company even had a toll-free hotline that people could call into for cleaning tips.

Let us know if you have any tips for cleaning your refrigerator by leaving a comment.

Cleaning your fridge

Have a great weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Have A Happy Halloween!

On Thursday we celebrate one of the most fun days of the year – Halloween! How are you going to celebrate? Go trick or treating with your children or grandchildren? Be at home to hand out treats? Let us know in the comments section.

As you know, Halloween is a big holiday for purchasing things. So before we go any further, I just want to remind you to record all of your Halloween purchases such as costumes, decorations, and candy.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s do what we do best! Talk facts ‘n figures!

According to our friends at WalletHub,

  • $8.8 billion: The projected Halloween-related spending in 2019
  • 76% of Americans will spend $50 or less on/for Halloween this year
  • 68% of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year
  • 32% of Americans are throwing/attending a party
  • 44% of Americans plan to carve a pumpkin
  • 49% of Americans plan to decorate their home
  • 22% of Americans plan to visit a haunted house
  • 47% of Americans plan to dress in costumes

Speaking of Halloween costumes …

  • $3.2 billion: The amount Americans will spend on Halloween costumes this year
  • 1.3 million children plan to dress as a witch
  • 2.4 million children will dress as their favorite superhero
  • 3.1 million children will dress as their favorite princess
  • 2 million adults will dress as a vampire
  • 5 million adults will dress as a witch
  • 17% of Americans will dress their pets in costumes (most popular Halloween costumes for pets: Pumpkin, hot dog, superhero, bumble bee)

As for trick-or-treaters …

  • More than 41 million: The number of potential trick-or-treaters in 2019 (children age 5 to 14)
  • 69% of Americans plan to give candy to trick-or-treaters
  • $2.6 billion will be spent on Halloween candy this year
  • 29% of Americans plan to take their children trick-or-treating
  • 72% of parents admit to secretly eating their child’s candy
  • 85% of parents have a plan for helping their children enjoy candy in moderation
  • 68% of Americans say chocolate is their favorite Halloween treat

Finally, Candystore.com released its self-compiled rankings of the most popular Halloween candy in every state.

Candystore.com created its rankings based on 12 years of its sales data (from 2007 to 2018) with a focus on the months leading up to Halloween. The online candy seller also collaborated with “major candy manufacturers and distributors” to help determine the most popular candy in each state (and Washington, D.C.), as well as the first and second runners up. (Certain candies are more likely to be sold in bulk and, as a result, may be overrepresented in the lists.)

In addition to the top Halloween candy state rankings, Candystore.com also released a list of the most popular Halloween candy in the U.S. overall.

  1. Skittles
  2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. M&M’s
  4. Snickers
  5. Starburst
  6. Candy Corn
  7. Hot Tamales
  8. Tootsie Pops
  9. Sour Patch Kids
  10. Hershey’s

Most Popular Halloween Candy By State

Alabama ― Hershey’s Mini Bars
Alaska ― Twix
Arizona ― Skittles
Arkansas ― Hot Tamales
California ― Skittles
Colorado ― Twix
Connecticut ― Milky Way
Delaware ― Skittles
District of Columbia ― Tootsie Pops
Florida ― Skittles
Georgia ― Jolly Ranchers
Hawaii ― Skittles
Idaho ― Candy Corn
Illinois ― Kit Kat
Indiana ― Hot Tamales
Iowa ― Candy Corn
Kansas ― Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Kentucky ― Swedish Fish
Louisiana ― Lemonheads
Maine ― Sour Patch Kids
Maryland ― Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Massachusetts ― Butterfinger
Michigan ― Starburst
Minnesota ― Skittles
Mississippi ― Snickers
Missouri ― Milky Way
Montana ― Dubble Bubble
Nebraska ― Salt Water Taffy
Nevada ― Candy Corn
New Hampshire ― Starburst
New Jersey ― Tootsie Pops
New Mexico ― Candy Corn
New York ― Hot Tamales
North Carolina ― Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
North Dakota ― Candy Corn
Ohio ― M&M’s
Oklahoma ― Dubble Bubble
Oregon ― Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Pennsylvania ― Hershey’s Mini Bars
Rhode Island ― Twix
South Carolina ― Skittles
South Dakota ― Starburst
Tennessee ― Tootsie Pops
Texas ― Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Utah ― Jolly Ranchers
Vermont ― M&M’s
Virginia ― Hot Tamales
Washington ― salt water taffy
West Virginia ― Blow Pops
Wisconsin ― Starburst
Wyoming ― Salt water taffy

For more details, see https://www.candystore.com/blog/facts-trivia/halloween-candy-map-popular/

Let us know all about your favorite treats in the comments section.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes Results

Happy Friday everyone! Our most recent Scavenger Hunt has ended; so my question to you is, did you find all six fall-related images?

Just to recap: Six fall-related images (graphics) were hidden in past blog posts from this year. Once found, participants entered the title of the particular blog post in a specially created survey.

Out of the thousands of correct entries, we then randomly selected five winners.

So let’s hear it for the five Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes winners who will each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code.

  • Becky G. / ldar …
  • Christina B. / ms.rizk …
  • Jennifer H. / jlynj …
  • Raya M. / rayaf …
  • Samantha J. / Zebra …

Note: For privacy, we only used their first names and the first initial of their last name, as well as the first few letters of their email addresses. (Winners will be contacted shortly.)

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

Do You Know Your Stores? (Posted on February 22, 2019) Acorn
How ‘Bout A S’more! (Posted on August 9, 2019) Bucket of Apples
Got A Question? Go To The Video (Posted on June 7, 2019) Football
Millennials And Online Shopping (Posted on February 8, 2019) Pie
Spotlight On Sustainability (Posted on May 17, 2019) Pumpkin
A Brief History Of Coupons (Posted on March 22, 2019) leaf

I hope you enjoyed participating in this Scavenger Hunt!

Have a great weekend.

Best Regards,
Taylor

Keeping Cyber Secure

It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month. (The National Cyber Security Awareness Month was created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.)

With most people doing virtually everything online nowadays, it is crucial that you protect yourself from “bad actors” trying to get your personal information.

So here are some useful tips from cso.com to help you stay cyber secure:

1. Always keep your privacy settings on: Most social networking websites, including Facebook, Instagram, etc., allow users to tweak or update their privacy settings easily. You can take advantage of these features and keep your online privacy intact on social media. Also, and this is pretty much common sense, don’t tell the world your business! Don’t post personal details that might come back to haunt you.

2. Choose strong passwords: Although it might be difficult for you to remember, the trickier the password, the better! There are multiple tools available on the internet that can help you create the strongest passwords. Also, don’t forget to change your passwords every couple of months.

3. Keep your antivirus program updated: Always make sure to stay current with your Operating System’s updates and the applications that you use. They provide a vital layer of security for your system and your devices.

4. Make sure your Internet connection is secured: Try avoiding a public Wi-Fi network completely, unless you can use a VPN (virtual private network) app installed on your device.

Hopefully these tips will keep you from having any problems in the future.

And don’t forget our Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes, which ends on Monday, October 14.

To enter, go to

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

Here are some important details:

  • We’ve hidden images in past blog posts for you to find. It’s up to you to go through all of my blog postings from 2019 and look for the six fall-related images (graphics).
  • 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.)

Have a great weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes

Since it’s now officially fall, let’s celebrate the season with a Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes!

As we’ve done in the past, we’ve hidden images in past blog posts for you to find.

It’s up to you to go through all of my blog postings from 2019 and look for the six fall-related images (graphics).

Shhh… here’s a hint, you’ll be looking for graphics that depict: an acorn, a bucket of apples, a football, a leaf, a pie, and a pumpkin.

When you find any of the images listed, 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. 

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

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 Monday, October 14.

Please check out the rules:

http://www.ncponline.com/wbcnt/NCPBlog/Fall2019Sweepstakes.pdf

Good luck!

Best Regards,
Taylor

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.

Keeping It Fresh

Like many others, I’ve started purchasing more of my groceries online. Who doesn’t love the convenience! But if I do get anything online, it’s almost always a packaged item.

I still go to the grocery store for “fresh” foods, like bakery goods, deli, meat, produce and seafood. Interesting stat from the Nielsen Company: online grocery shoppers spend 1.5% more in-store on fresh food than the average consumer does.

According to Nielsen, deli and produce departments provide the highest sales of “fresh food” items in stores. In fact, three-fourths of deli sales come from items packaged by deli clerks, giving customers a more authentic, ready-made feel.

Meanwhile, online sales of health and beauty care items and dairy products are rising.

Where do you get your fresh food items? Let us know by leaving a comment.

As you can see, sales of fresh food continues to increase in stores.

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Scavenger Hunt News
It’s almost here! The next NCP Blog Scavenger Hunt, featuring fall-related items, will be starting next week. Remember to come back to the blog next week for details!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Grab ‘N Go ‘N Scan!

Busy, busy, busy. That’s the story of our lives. And although we want to provide healthy food choices for our families and ourselves, who has the time to prepare these goodies? I barely have time to breathe!

If you’re like me, you take some, shall we say, food prep short-cuts. That is, purchasing “grab-and-go” food.

We’re not alone: According to the Nielsen Company, deli departments, which have a lot of grab-and-go items, have had sales go from $15 billion in 2014 to $20 billion in 2018. Some of the biggest sellers in the deli department include prepared items like salads, sandwiches, wings, and meal kits. 

Further, according to Nielsen, consumers prepare just 4.6 dinners at home each week, and most aren’t interested in spending more than 30 minutes on prep time. Even among home cooks, more than half enjoy using semi-prepared ingredients on occasion to help get food on the table faster.

While some shoppers, according to Nielsen, look for something tasty, but a little indulgent, such as wings, lasagna and pizza, many others look for healthy options.

According to Nielsen data, salad dollar sales grew $193 million between November 2017 and November 2018 — up 49% from the prior-year period — while sales of smoothies increased 32% during the same period. Sales of what Nielsen calls “innovative” plant-based foods, including veggie noodles and plant-based yogurt, grew 18% over the year-long period.

What about you? Are you part of a grab-and-go household? And if so, what do you like to grab-and-go? Let us know in the comments section.

Recording Your Grab-And-Go Purchases
Record all of your household’s prepared foods purchases using the Prepared Foods listing in the Barcode Reference Booklet if you use a handheld scanner, or if you have the NCPMobile App, the Non-Barcoded Items listing in the app.

Record all food items that need no preparation before eating, such as chicken salad, sushi, etc., as well as foods that may need to be heated before you eat/serve them.

These prepared food items can be purchased at supermarkets, warehouse clubs, delicatessens, etc., and may not have a barcode. Do not use this listing to record prepared foods purchased from restaurants or fast food establishments.

NCPMobile users can also record their meal-kit purchases in the app.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Pour Me A Cup Of Joe!

Something is brewing in the coffee market! If you’re like me, you can’t live without a cup or two of coffee to get you going. (We’re certainly not alone: 64% of American adults drink coffee nearly daily, according to a 2018 National Coffee Association survey.)

Well, according to the Nielsen Company (and NCP panel members’ data), American’s consumption habits are changing, as many consumers are increasingly getting their coffee fix from chilled, on-the-go coffee options rather than energy drinks and carbonated soft drinks. 

In the ready-to-drink coffee market, within the past year 158 new ready-to-drink coffee offerings (up 14% year-over-year) have hit store shelves, with 89 new cold brews and an additional 30 iced coffee varieties brought to market, according to Nielsen.

Consumers are also enjoying fun creamer options, like white chocolate, toasted marshmallow and sticky cinnamon bun. According to Nielsen, growth in the U.S. coffee creamer market has actually outpaced that of traditional packaged coffee sales. Over the past four years (ending June 29, 2019), U.S. sales of creams and non-dairy creamers rose an average of 2.8% each year, compared with packaged coffee sales that rose an average of just 0.8% during the same time.

Finally, as we all know, it’s pumpkin spice flavor season! According to Nielsen, what “started as an innovative coffee flavor, pumpkin spice has sparked a flavor craze that now defines an entire season.” In fact, all pumpkin-flavored products put together brought in $511 million dollars in sales. That’s a lot of pumpkins!

So, what’s your favorite coffee/creamer flavor? Let us know in the comments section!

NCPulse Results!
A short time ago, Joanna from NCP asked panel members what they enjoyed most about this summer, and their favorite summer memories.

Here’s a brief summary:

  • Spending time with family
  • Sharing fun activities with grandchildren
  • Warm weather and longer days
  • Vacations
  • The availability of farm-fresh fruit and veggies

Scavenger Hunt!
Be on the lookout, in the next few weeks, for our latest scavenger hunt. More details to come very soon!

Have a great weekend, and relax with your favorite cup of coffee.

Best Regards,
Taylor