How Are You Spending The Fourth Of July?

Independence Day is this coming Tuesday. How will you be spending the holiday? It’s a tradition for my family to have a BBQ and then head out to watch some fireworks.

What are you planning to do? Let me know!

This is how many Americans plan to spend the day, according to the National Retail Federation,

  • Cookout/BBQ/picnic: 65.5%
  • Fireworks/community celebration: 43.6%
  • Travel/vacation: 13.3%
  • Will not celebrate: 11.6%
  • Attending a parade: 13.5%
  • Other: 8.3%

This is also a time when many people go away on vacation. According to AAA.com, 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home during the holiday weekend (Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4), an increase of 2.9% compared with last year.

So if you’re traveling and unable to record your purchases, please let us know by contacting the Panel Support Center by phone at 1-800-962-6700 or email support@ncponline.com.

If you’re an NCPMobile App user, you can continue to scan while away on vacation.

Thanks, and enjoy the holiday!

The Mystery Phrase Revealed!

It’s time to reveal the winning phrase in our Mystery Phrase promotion, which ran from June 1 to June 15. The winning phrase is …

Scan every week to earn the most rewards.

Congratulations to those who searched through the past blogs and found all the words and then also solved the Mystery Phrase!

We had thousands of correct responses. We then randomly selected the following five winners:

  • Charles B., Woodburn, OR
  • Lynn H., Pittsburgh, PA
  • Becky J., Muncy, PA
  • Miesha L., Paramount, CA
  • Kathy L., Lamesa, TX

These winners will receive their $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code within the next few days.

I just want to say thank you for the nice comments that many readers posted. We’re glad you enjoyed participating in this promotion!

For those who want to know where to find the words that make up the Mystery Phrase, they were in the following posts:

Scan – May 5, 2017
Every – September 8, 2016
Week – November 18, 2016
To – April 27, 2017
Earn – January 29, 2016
The – April 13, 2017
Most – August 5, 2016
Rewards – January 27, 2017

Thanks again, and have a great day!

Dad’s Day Is Coming

Father’s Day is almost here, and I know sometimes people wonder what to get or do for the dads in their lives.

And there are a lot of dads. In case you ever wondered how many fathers are out there, well the U.S. Census Bureau knows! According to the bureau, there are an estimated 72.2 million fathers across the nation in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available.

My kids and I have been trying to figure out what to do for my husband. He said he doesn’t want anything this year, so I’m working with the kids to come up with some ideas on what activities we can do.

Any suggestions? What will you be doing for Father’s Day? Let me know!

Here are some activities that dad might appreciate, according to the Readers Digest:

  • Fishing
  • Golfing
  • Beer tasting (my husband would definitely like this one!)
  • Visiting an amusement park
  • Having a spa day
  • Going to a car show
  • Attending a sporting event
  • Attending a musical performance
  • Attending a museum or art show
  • Cooking
  • Traveling
  • Volunteering with the kids

For those looking to purchase something for dad, Father’s Day sending is expected to reach an average of $134.75, up from last year’s $125.92, according to the National Retail Federation. Total spending is expected to reach $15.5 billion!

Here are some of the most popular items that people will pick up for dad, according to the National Retail Federation:

  • Greeting cards: 64.3%
  • Clothing: 46.1%
  • Gift certificates/gift cards: 42.6%
  • Books or CDs: 23.9%
  • Consumer electronics/Computer related: 21.2%
  • Personal Care: 20.9%
  • Sporting goods or leisure items: 16.7%
  • Tools or appliances: 16.3%
  • Home improvement or gardening supplies: 16.2%
  • Automotive accessories: 16.1%

While 48% will take dad to a special outing, such as dinner or bunch.

Whatever you do for Father’s Day, I hope you have a great day!

 

What Are You Snacking On?

It’s late in the afternoon as I write this, and boy could I use a snack! Who doesn’t like a good snack?

According to The Nielsen Company, “the total salty snack category accounted for more than $27.5 billion in sales across Nielsen-measured U.S. retail stores for the year ended Feb. 25, 2017.”

That’s a lot of snacks!

According to Nielsen, despite the fact that consumers want to eat better, snacking trends appear to be shifting away from snack bars, cereal snacks and dried fruits.

In addition, the potato chip category, which has more than $7.2 billion in annual sales, had a sales increase of just 1.7% for the recent year. Pretzels, meanwhile, lost 0.5% in sales in the last year, pulling in just under $1.5 billion.

Any meat snack fans out there? While potato chips and popcorn still lead the way, meat snacks are a growing snack category. Nielsen said the meat snack category – made up of jerky and sticks – has posted annual sales growth of more than 7% over the past four years. During that time, sales totaled $2.8 billion.

To be specific, American households spend an average of $25.81 per year on meat snacks. Other growing areas are pork and seafood snack products. (Yes, seafood snacks!)

What types of snacks do you like best? Are you in to meat (or seafood) snacks? Let me know!

It’s Not Too Late To Play Our Mystery Phrase Promotion
Do you want a chance to be one of five winners who’ll each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code?

Then take part in our Mystery Phrase promotion. Even if you don’t win, it’s a ton of fun to participate!

Here’s a reminder of what you have to do:

  • Read through our past blogs and look for eight highlighted words. (The words will be in bold and in red font.)
  • Construct a coherent NCP-related sentence – the so-called “Mystery Phrase” – using the eight highlighted words that you found. (The sentence must match NCP’s predetermined phrase. Please do not create your own phrase.)
  • Send your entry to news@ncppanel.com with the subject line, Mystery Phrase, and include your name and phone number (in case we need to contact you). Only one entry per person will be accepted.We’ve had a good response so far, but there’s still time to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, June 15.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Play Our Mystery Phrase Promotion And You Could Win a $50 Gift Card

It’s time for some fun! We thought it would be cool to have a contest. Hopefully you’ll find it fun – and rewarding!

You’ll have to do a little work, but you could be one of five people who’ll each win a $50 Amazon Gift Card* claim code.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Read through our past blogs and look for eight highlighted words. (The words will be in bold and in red font. Hint: You may have to go all the way back to the early blogs!)
  • Construct a coherent NCP-related sentence – the so-called “Mystery Phrase” – using the eight highlighted words that you found. (The sentence must match NCP’s predetermined phrase.)
  • Send your entry to news@ncppanel.com with the subject line, Mystery Phrase, and include your name and phone number (in case we need to contact you).
  • Five winners will then be selected in a random drawing. Each winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code!
  • The contest ends on Thursday, June 15, so get started soon!

Remember: The eight words could be in any of our past blogs, so you’ll have to do a little searching. (But the words are highlighted.)

Make sure to check out the rules.

If you have any questions, please contact us at news@ncppanel.com with the subject line, Mystery Phrase Question.

Good luck to all, and have fun!

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.

Commemorating Memorial Day

Memorial Day is this Monday, and we always think of it as the unofficial start of summer, a day of BBQing or shopping, a (possible) long weekend away from work and perhaps traveling to see family and friends.

But it is also a day where we remember those who died serving our country.

My family and I will be traveling to see some relatives and enjoy a BBQ. But we’ll also spend some time at a local National Cemetery placing flags on fallen solders’ gravesites.

What are your Memorial Day weekend plans? Let me know.

I came across some fascinating Memorial Day facts from wallethub.com that I’d like to share with you:

  • 75% of Americans plan to BBQ over the Memorial Day weekend
  • 41.4% of Americans are likely to take advantage of Memorial Day deals
  • 39.3 million Americans plan to travel over the Memorial Day weekend (a 2.7% increase over 2016)
  • 88.1% of Memorial Day weekend travelers will drive to their destination (a 2.4% increase from 2016)
  • 2.9 million people are expected to travel by plane over the Memorial Day weekend (5.5% increase over 2016)

And some sobering statistics:

  • 42+ million: The number of veterans who’ve served the country in war time
  • 1.3 million: Members of the armed services have lost their lives in conflict
  • 260,000: Graves at Arlington National Cemetery that are adorned with American flags each Memorial Day

Reminder: Our Panel Support Center will be starting the Holiday Weekend a little early. Our team will be available Saturday from 10 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET to assist you. We will be closed on Monday in observance of the holiday. We’ll be back on Tuesday May 30, at 9 a.m. ET.  

Get Out And Garden!

If you haven’t already done so (depending on where you live), now’s the time to get out and work on your garden. My husband and I have spent the last few (dry) weekends raking and cleaning up, getting ready to start our planting.

Gardening is a favorite hobby for many people. And even if it’s not your favorite activity, many people still do it. In fact, according to gardenresearch.com, 74% of all U.S. households participated in lawn and garden activities in 2016. The average amount spent on gardening per household was $407.

Food gardening and flower gardening were the most popular gardening activities, according to the National Gardening Survey. About one out of three households participated in food gardening (36 percent) or flower gardening (34 percent). Households spent an estimated $3.6 billion growing vegetables, fruit, berries and herbs and $2.7 billion on flower gardening.

Do you like to garden? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do in the garden? What do you not like to do? (For me, it’s weeding. UGH!)

Anyone have any good gardening tips they’d like to share? Let me know, I’m always interested in learning more about gardening.

Don’t Forget To Scan Your Garden-Related Purchases
Please record all your lawn and garden purchases. Many of the items you might buy for your garden or lawn are large or come in big, bulky packages or containers, such as topsoil, fertilizer, wood chips, rakes, wagons, wheelbarrows, and so on. These types of items are typically stored away in garages or sheds before and after use, so before you store these don’t forget to scan them.


Send Us A Picture Of Your Garden
Have a nice picture (or two) of your garden you’d like to share? Well, just send it to news@ncppanel.com and we’ll try to publish it here in the blog or in an upcoming NCP Newsletter! (Please send the photo as a .jpg attachment.)

Enjoy your weekend, and get outside if you can!

Celebrating The Moms In Your Life

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. This year, my husband will be cooking dinner for me, my mom, and my mother-in-law. It should be interesting!

While my kids usually make me a special gift, I know a lot of other mothers get gifts purchased from a store or restaurant. According to the National Retail Foundation, total Mother’s Day-related spending is expected to reach $23.6 billion, compared with last year’s previous record of $21.4 billion.

What are Americans planning to buy the moms in their lives?

Here are the top items being bought, according to the National Retail Foundation:

  • Greeting cards: 77.9%
  • Flowers: 68.5%
  • Dinner or brunch: 55.9%
  • Gift card(s): 45.0%
  • Clothing or accessories: 36.9%
  • Jewelry: 35.5%
  • Other: 24.3%
  • Spa day, etc.: 24.2%
  • Books or CDs: 20.8%
  • Housewares or gardening tools: 19.5%
  • Consumer electronics: 14.9%

Speaking of floral purchases, NCP panelists are certainly purchasing a lot of flowers for mom. Here’s the rundown of which months have had the highest recorded purchases of flowers, according to NCP data:

  1. May
  2. June
  3. December
  4. April
  5. July
  6. November
  7. March
  8. September
  9. October
  10. February
  11. August
  12. January

How do you celebrate the mothers in your life? Let me know!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

 

It’s Spring Cleaning Time!

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had a chance to start my spring cleaning. But I decided that this weekend my family and I were going to do a nice, deep cleaning.

In particular, my husband and I wanted to make sure our kids – who are still fairly young (9 and 11) – learn the importance of keeping things nice and clean. But I wasn’t sure of what’s the best way to engage them.

So I found some tips from Rasmussen.edu that I will be using to help get them get going:

  1. Use a cleanup song: Find a song the kids like, and sing it as many times as you can possibly stand it!
  2. Ensure the chores are age-appropriate
  3. Start with one-step commands: The task should be small, perhaps no more than 5 – 10 minutes. Once they’re finished, make sure to give some positive reinforcement.
  4. Focus on the successes: Make the chores fun by focusing on what your child is learning and doing well.
  5. Don’t give in and do it yourself
  6. Make sure you are also having fun

Spring cleaning is an excellent opportunity for your kids to learn responsibility and grow their self-confidence. Are there any tips you have for getting children to chip in with the cleaning? I’d love to hear about them!

Remember: At this time of year, it’s important to remember to scan all of your spring cleaning item purchases for both indoors and outdoors, such as brooms, mops, disinfectants, storage bins, rug cleaners, trash bags, lawn care/garden products, and so on. Also, before you put large, bulky items such as topsoil and fertilizer into the garage or shed, please scan them first so you don’t forget about them.

Happy cleaning!

NCP: One Of The Best Companies To Work For

Wow, this is great news! I am so proud to say that NCP – for the third year in a row – has been named one of the best companies to work for in New York State!

Last week, a number of NCP associates traveled to Albany, the state capitol, where the company was honored at a public awards dinner. There were 45 companies in the category for small/medium-sized employers with 15 to 249 U.S. employees.

The Best Companies to Work for in New York State awards are celebrating 10 years of recognizing the best employers in the state. It is a distinctive program that evaluates and ranks the best places of employment based on employee satisfaction and engagement, as well as workplace practices and policies.

To be considered for participation, companies had to enter into a two-part survey process and fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a for-profit or not-for-profit business or government entity
  • Be a publicly or privately held business
  • Have at least one facility in the state of New York
  • Have a minimum of 15 employees working in the state of New York
  • Be in business a minimum of 1 year

Again, we are so proud to have been awarded this honor.

Thanks, and have a great day!