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Retailers have reported steady sales gains for July, as larger discounts and sweltering hot weather forced shoppers into air conditioned shopping centers. However, with growing economic concerns, many analysts worry that the back-to-school shoppers will stick to the habits they demonstrated during the Great Recession – sticking to necessities only and waiting around for bigger discounts.

Earnings reports released on Wednesday afternoon from BJ’s Wholesale Club and Target show that consumers are spending cautiously due to higher gas and food prices. The results demonstrate discretionary spending; meaning retailer margins could remain pressured this year.

Investors are most concerned with the prospects for Target, as shoppers are purchasing food and necessities, but avoiding non-essential purchases.

It may be time for shareholders of Pier 1 Imports to pop the cork on that champagne they have been saving. The less-than-profitable home-furnishings seller, which has been beset by rapid sales declines and a shrinking margin, was given a stock upgrade by Goldman Sachs Group on June 12th.

Adrianne Shapira, a top Goldman analyst, and her group upgraded Pier 1 from neutral to buy, and added their stock onto their Americas Conviction List.

Google stunned the globe on August 15th by agreeing on a $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility. Google will dip into their $39 billion cash reserve to purchase the initial phone manufacturer to prominently support the Android operating system. Android has been hit from all sides by Microsoft, Apple and many others with a stake on the smartphone market.

Here are more great contests for small businesses to enter.

Next Gig Business Idea Contest

BizSugar.com is awarding Amazon gift cards for the best business ideas posted through a blog comment.

There is never a shortage of awards and contests that are geared towards the small business owner. Let’s take a look at a few ongoing promotions.
 

Avaya Small Business Innovators Contest

It’s a question many business owners ask. Do I need business insurance? The answer is an emphatic YES! This insurance is there to protect the business owner from the many risks their company faces. There are many ideas floating around in the business world, with an idea from every business owner who thinks insurance is unnecessary.

Following a steady stream of changes over the past few months, the search leader has announced they will be trimming their offerings.

In the upcoming few months, Google intends to shut down many products and merge them into other products as additional features.

This move comes after a leadership change, a social networking push and an announced major acquisition coming soon.

Here is more proof that history can indeed repeat itself. The San Francisco Police Department has confirmed that they have helped Apple search for an iPhone 5 prototype that disappeared in July. The iPhone 4 was dealt a similar fate prior to its release. Don’t get too excited yet, as there is unfortunately no leaked photographic evidence of the phone.

Many years ago, a venture capitalist named Stewart Alsop went public with his view that Facebook should not have accepted an investment from Microsoft based on a valuation of $15 billion.