Consumer Confidential: Redefining ‘green,’ boosting holiday sales, legalizing drugs


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Here’s your wet-wet-wet Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- What a surprise: Many businesses that say they’re green are more interested in greenbacks. The Federal Trade Commission has issued revised guidelines for ‘eco-friendly’ products, raising the bar for ways businesses can tout their environmental friendliness on packaging and in ads. ‘In recent years, businesses have increasingly used ‘green’ marketing to capture consumers’ attention,’ says FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. ‘But what companies think green claims mean and what consumers really understand are sometimes two different things.’ Now businesses will have to base such claims on science, rather than wishful thinking. Imagine that.

-- It’s not even Halloween, but retailers are already anticipating their best holiday season in years. The National Retail Federation is forecasting a 2.3% increase in November and December sales -- the biggest gain since 2006 -- and other predictions are coming in around the same level. Stronger-than-expected back-to-school sales have fueled some of the optimism. But analysts say retailers will have to offer snappy discounts to woo shoppers, and lower-priced stores will probably do better than high-end establishments.


-- So how can we boost the economy? Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Miron says legalizing drugs -- all drugs -- would help. ‘Legalizing drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition,’ he says. ‘Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government.’ He also says legalizing drugs would produce tax revenue of about $46.7 billion annually, assuming drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco. Just a thought.

-- David Lazarus