Consumer Confidential: Home sales up, Walkman saying sayonara, newspapers sink


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Here’s your make-my-day Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- A smidge of sunlight on the housing front: Sales of previously occupied homes -- I guess that’s a fancy way of saying ‘used’ -- rose 10% last month, suggesting that the housing market continues making advances toward a semblance of stability. One cloud of uncertainty, though, is whether a crackdown by federal authorities on the foreclosure market will knock the wind out of any recovery’s sails. Me, I think it’s about time the feds got involved in the foreclosure mess.

-- Sign o’ the times: Sony is retiring its groundbreaking Walkman cassette player in Japan because, well, no one there wants the darn thing any more. Production ended in April, and sales will cease once Japanese shelves are empty. The Walkman was introduced in 1979 and quickly became a gotta-have-it gadget. About 220 million have been sold worldwide. Not to worry if you’re one of the few who can’t live without a Walkman hereabouts. Chinese-made Walkmen still will be available in the United States, at least for a while.


-- The writing’s still on the wall for newspapers. Average daily circulation fell another 5% in the six months ended Sept. 30 compared with a year before. At least that’s not quite as bad as the 8.7% drop seen in the previous reporting period. Sunday circulation in the most recent period fell 4.5%, also a smaller decline than the 6.5% drop in the six months before that. The reason? A no-brainer. The Internet continues eating the industry’s lunch, and newspapers are struggling to find their place in a digital world (and to get paid for it). Help a starving columnist -- take out a subscription.

-- David Lazarus