Business Briefs – October 31, 2018

L.L. Bean Looks to Northern Neighbor to Boost Sales

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) – L.L. Bean is looking to the north — to Canada — to boost sales. The outdoors gear retailer has signed an agreement in which its products will be sold in 30 stores in Canada for the year-end season, and in L.L. Bean-branded stores opening over the next decade. The company also has launched a dedicated Canadian website that incorporates duties and smooths out currency fluctuations.

Small Businesses Seeking Seasonal Help Need to Get Creative

NEW YORK (AP) – Small businesses are having a harder time finding holiday staffers this year as they compete with big players like Amazon for a shrinking labor pool. Human resources consultants say owners need to get creative in where they look for help, and what they offer prospective hires. For example: Recruit from groups who aren’t working, like retirees, or who work off-hours, like bartenders. Be generous with hiring bonuses. And consider giving seasonal staffers benefits like paid time off.

U.S. Steps Up Scrutiny of Funds For Asbestos Exposure Victims

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration has stepped up scrutiny of trust funds for victims of asbestos exposure. The Justice Department is demanding documents for a civil investigation and injecting itself into corporate bankruptcy cases. The actions take aim at a system that compensates the sick but that critics say is opaque, prone to fraud and manipulation. The government’s intervention aligns it with business groups who complain about the process and could result in closer oversight.

Savers: Shop Around, and You May Finally Make Some Money

(AP) – Savers rejoice — you can finally earn a little more on the money you’ve been setting aside.

To draw in customers, banks — particularly online institutions — have been getting more competitive with the rates they are offering on savings, CDs and even checking accounts. That means a savvy consumer may be able to earn far beyond the norm if they are willing to shop around.

Take the humble savings account: The average interest rate in the U.S. is 0.09 percent, according to the FDIC. And that is just an average — some banks are offering rates as low as 0.01 percent while many others are at or above 2 percent.

To someone with $5,000 sitting in an account, that means the difference between earning 50 cents a year in interest versus $100.