Money Minute: J.C. Penney Reports Rise in Theft; McDonald's Keeps McRib Local


Despite the improving economy, fewer people plan to travel for Thanksgiving this year.

AAA forecasts that 4.3 million people will drive 50 miles or more for their turkey. That's a lot of traffic, but it's down 1.5 percent from last year. And if you do hit the roads, there's this bit of good news: the national average for a gallon of regular is down to $3.22. Air travel is expected to be down by nearly four percent.

In addition to reporting an improved sales outlook Wednesday, J.C. Penney (JCP) also said shoplifting is on the rise. The reason is that the company removed those security tags from its clothes as part of a move to a new system to track inventory. All of that pilfering added to Penney's losses. But the problem should ease up as it nears completion of the re-tagging process.

McDonald's Brings Back The McRib Sandwich
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

McDonald's (MCD) says it won't offer a national rollout of its popular McRib sandwich. Instead, local franchises will decide whether to add the McRib as a temporary menu item. Either way, the McRib will remain a seasonal item, available for only a limited time.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 66 points Wednesday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 6 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) dropped 10 points.

As stores prepare to mark-down prices for the holidays, some retail stocks could be discounted as well. Target (TGT) reported disappointing earnings, and warns that consumer spending will be "constrained."

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) posted a quarterly loss as sales plunged by 14 percent. Analysts had expected a profit. Sears Holdings (SHLD) posted a loss that wasn't quite as bad as expected, but sales at its Sears and Kmart stores fell by 6 percent.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' (GMCR) earnings topped expectations. But sales of the company's single-serve coffee products weren't as hot as expected.

Finally, online gambling launches Thursday evening in New Jersey. If the test phase goes well, the full rollout will start next Tuesday. But bettors must be in New Jersey to access the system, which will be run by the ailing casinos companies in Atlantic City.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.