Consumer Confidential: Retail sales, robocalls, bad pet treats

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Here’s your festive Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Yes, we’re shopping. That’s the word from the Commerce Department, which says retail sales were up a healthy 1.3% last month, indicating that the economic recovery is gaining traction. A separate report shows that consumer sentiment is improving as people gradually buy into the notion that there’s light at the end of the recessionary tunnel. Factor in the deluge of holiday sales and I’m thinking we’re going to see some equally strong retail numbers for this month as well.

--The Federal Trade Commission is stepping up efforts to crack down on robocalling telemarketers pushing worthless offers to help lower people’s credit card interest rates. ‘The FTC has heard the public outcry against robocalls and has taken swift action to stop them,’ said Jon Leibowitz, the head of the agency. ‘During these difficult economic times, the last thing anyone needs is to be bombarded by robocalls pitching worthless interest-rate reduction programs.’ Agreed. Let’s hope the crackdown works.

--A California pet food company, Pet Carousel, is recalling doggy treats made from pig ears and cow hoofs (yes, that’s where treats come from) because of a risk of salmonella contamination. The pig-ear treats are packaged under the brands Doggie Delight, Pork Tasteez and Pet Carousel. The cow-hoof treats bear the Choo Hooves, Dentley’s, Doggie Delight and Pet Carousel brands. Whatever happened to plain old Milk- Bones?


-- David Lazarus