Consumer Business Update: Wal-Mart Faces Pro-Union Protests, Amazon Goes to France

Pro-union protests against Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) are now spreading to 12 states and 28 stores as organizers suggest that further events are planned into the shopping season. Analysts give a low probability to success, given the retailer has a workforce of more than 1.4 million workers, so garnering enough support for a union would seem a difficult task.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) will introduce its VOD Lovefilm service in France starting March 2013. According to analysts, the firm holds a distinct advantage in that country with its myriad of rules that reduces distribution for the film industry to narrow windows should it claim to be exempt.

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Shares of Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM) slip moderately on the day as the firm issues a recall for more than 7 million vehicles. The problem is a faulty power window switch and though the number of recalled vehicles might seem high, no injuries or deaths have been attributed to the issue and observers do not seem to see the event as unsurmountable by any means.

United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) issues a number of price hikes on its domestic flights, anticipating that other major carriers will do the same. However, earlier in the week, Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) went the other way, initiating an off-peak winter sale on selected flights. Overall, lower fuel prices along with higher baggage fees are boosting the margins of airline companies in the face of weak industry demand.

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