Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Shoppers Fight For Black Friday Bargains; Wal-Mart Cheers Black Friday, Braces For Protests; Fighting For Black Friday Bargains; Loud Explosions Outside U.S. Air Base; Lindsey Vonn Skis Again After Crash; Poll: Biden Is Second Choice For Dems In 2016; Nigella Lawson's Ex- Husband Testifies

Aired November 29, 2013 - 10:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: -- and it's the secret works from the man behind "The Catcher in the Rye." Books not supposed to be out for decades are available right now. It's a big mystery this morning. The second hour of NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much nor joining me. Some call it the Super Bowl of rail. Black Friday in full swing and shoppers are showing off moves you might find on the football field. Peeking breaking tackles, making interceptions all in the hopes of scoring great holiday bargains. This was the scene at a Wal- Mart in North Carolina which opened up on Thanksgiving night.

And at some Wal-Mart shoppers might have to push through protesters as a union-backed group called "Our Wal-Mart" is picturing what it says are poor working conditions at the retail giant.

Let's go to Alison Kosik first we are going to talk to the vice president of marketing at Wal-Mart in just a second. But I wanted to check in with you because it seems like sales are hot this year, maybe on the rise?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Online, yes. Apparently what's happening yesterday while everybody was sitting at the table eating their Thanksgiving dinner, there were two-fisting it. They got the turkey leg in one hand and the smartphone in the other because what people were doing were apparently squeezing in some quality time with smartphones over at Aunt Sally's eating their dinner.

And what were they doing? They were working their smartphones. IBM says that they were shopping. They say that smartphones accounted for 23.5 percent of all online traffic yesterday and while they were browsing on their smartphones, though, they were actually on their tablets.

I think it's easier to see what you are going to buy if you get a bigger picture. If you look at the total online sales yesterday, they were up 10 percent from last Thanksgiving. So how much were people spending? The average order on a tablet was more than $127. Here's an interesting note on this.

IOS, that's the Apple operating system, it drove about four times the sales online compared to the Android operating system. This is interesting because it's actually the Android operating system that gets a bigger market share compared to the iPhone. But apparently it doesn't get the share of the shopping at least around the holiday time -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Alison Kosik, thanks so much. OK, now we're going to talk to that executive from Wal-Mart. Duncan Mac Naughton is the executive vice president and chief marketing and chief merchandising officer for Wal-Mart USA. Good morning, Duncan.

DUNCAN MAC NAUGHTON, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, WALMART U.S.: Good morning, Carol. Great to be with you today.

COSTELLO: Great that you're here. You must be having an incredibly busy morning.

NAUGHTON: Boy, it's been an exciting a couple of days. This in fact is the Super Bowl of retail and we had over 22 million customers in our stores last night. We did over 10 million transactions in the first four hours. We had 5 million people use our one-hour guarantee and it was really fun to be out with our associates who flipped the biggest food retailer and the biggest mass merchants in just a matter of hours. And associates were excited. Customers were excited. It was a really festive environment last night.

COSTELLO: I know your PR department has been sending out press releases all morning long. One we got this morning, both record breaking Black Friday results. You sold 5,000 items per second. Last year, I heard all your facts and figures. But will you top that figure this year?

NAUGHTON: You know, we're actually -- all the indicators are we served more customers, had more transactions. We are selling more products and the customer is very engaged. We're very excited about where we are and we have more events going out today throughout the weekend. We expect the whole weekend to be a great festive environment for our customers.

COSTELLO: I know retailers like you have tried to stem these bizarre incidents of violence that seemed to happen every year on Black Friday. Not just at Wal-Mart. This year was no exception sadly. The video we showed earlier was taken at a Wal-Mart in North Carolina. It shows a guy apparently fighting over a television. What is it about Black Friday deals that brings out the crazy, Duncan?

NAUGHTON: You know, Carol, we served, as I said, over 22 million customers yesterday. We have over 4,100 stores and actually, we had quite a safe environment across the country last year. Unfortunately, this one incident is being talked about across the country and it's unfortunate for the customers and folks around that incident last night --

COSTELLO: You know what the charge is from this incident. It's all over. It's online, YouTube. Two security guards were standing nearby this incident and it appeared they didn't try to intervene at all. Do you know anything about it? NAUGHTON: Yes, Carol. We hire both our own asset protection people as well as local law enforcement to provide a safe environment for our customers. That's why they are there and across the country, we did that last night. And this particular incident, I have not seen that video in detail so I can't comment on that.

But I will tell you that's why we did our one hour guarantee from three items to 21 items. People could come in and get a wrist band and shop with confidence around the store. Over 5 million people used that last night. That was really about creating a family environment for our customer. Unfortunately in this particular incident, that didn't come through.

COSTELLO: Protesters at the union's urging going to picket Wal-Mart stores across the country for what they call low wages. I know you're going to say Wal-Mart pays at the top of the retail wage scale, but can you give me a figure.

NAUGHTON: You know, Carol, we do, in fact, have more full-time associates than part-time which is unusual in retail. And we do have very competitive wages, benefits and we do actually are on the top side of that. I appreciate you answering that question for me.

COSTELLO: What exactly does the average worker make at Wal-Mart? What is the high end of the wage scale of retail?

NAUGHTON: Well, you know, the great part about Wal-Mart is we're a reflection of the American economy and I think the discussion that we need to have is really about rebuilding the middle class in America. And we offer entry points of work for people that want part-time work and also opportunity.

That's what so great about Wal-Mart is if you want to work hard and want more responsibility, we promote over 160,000 people a year. And that's what key about Wal-Mart, is providing that opportunity and many different opportunities whether you want to be in logistics or ISD, marketing and merchandising. You want to work on the floor or fresh foods. We have great opportunities. We always see this --

COSTELLO: Is it safe to say that most workers at Wal-Mart, and I'm talking about part-timers and full-timers, you know, all put together, is it safe to say that they make under $10 an hour?

NAUGHTON: No, that's not accurate, Carol.

COSTELLO: What is accurate?

NAUGHTON: I can't quote the exact number for you, but we are on the top end of the retail wage.

COSTELLO: Well, I ask you this because there's a California millionaire, libertarian, former Republican candidate for governor. His name is Ron Ant. He submitted paperwork in California to raise the minimum wage in California to $12 an hour. And here is why he says he wants to do that. He says, quote, "One of the strange things in our society right now is that we have all of these low wage workers who are getting $7.50/an hour, 8 bucks an hour or 9 bucks an hour and because they earn such small wages, the government subsidizes them with tens of billions of dollars of social welfare spending that comes from the taxpayers.

Now there is no question no low wage workers turn to food stamps for help, but I mean, is that fair to the taxpayers?

NAUGHTON: You know, Carol, I think this is a very important discussion that we need to have as a country. It's about rebuilding middle class jobs. In an open economy like we have, it's about supply and demand. We're interested in participating in those conversations to say what is the right price for workers across the country?

And because we are a large retailer, we are excited to be able to offer that. Our average hourly number is $12.81 per hour. So we're above the number you're talking about right now. We're very confident that we can make a difference for our associates and the United States economy.

COSTELLO: Well, $12 an hour is about $25,000 a year. If you have a family, that's still like pretty hard to live on, right? I mean, you would understand why some would complain --

NAUGHTON: The $12.81? I think the opportunity is that's our average rate. People have opportunities to make more per hour. They can get management jobs. That's the key to Wal-Mart. We want to be a part of that discussion with the local and national officials and other retailers.

COSTELLO: So you would be amenable -- because he went on to say he wants to approach Wal-Mart and have discussions with you. President Obama said he wants the minimum wage across the country to be raised to $10 an hour for everyone. Would Wal-Mart accept the government setting a minimum wage for its stores?

NAUGHTON: You know, I think what we do is like yesterday, Carol, we had over 900,000 associates working on Thanksgiving Day to service our customers. That's what great is about Wal-Mart is our folks came to work excited to serve our customers. We had over 22 million people in our stores last night.

They are coming back in this morning. We feel good about the relationships that we have with our associates. I engage with many across South Texas last night. People were having a great time interacting with our customers, selling them products, helping them get out to their cars. It was a great night. Our associates are our key asset and we're proud to be their partner.

COSTELLO: Well, I do hear from Wal-Mart workers that they enjoy the work and the store, some of them want to make a little more money. But I want to ask you again about the minimum wage question, would Wal-Mart be interested in talking to maybe someone from the federal government about raising the minimum wage across the country for all workers?

NAUGHTON: You know, Carol, I always engage with both our local government officials as well as our national officials because Wal- Mart is the largest retailer in the United States, we have a platform for these discussions and we would be happy to weigh in to find the right resolution here.

COSTELLO: Duncan McNaughton, thank you so much for taking time out to talk with us this morning. We appreciate it.

NAUGTON: Thank you, Carol, appreciate it.

COSTELLO: You're welcome. Earlier this morning, I talked with the man who took that video we were talking about at that North Carolina Wal-Mart. His name is Brian Spain and he said he purposefully went to Wal-Mart to document the Black Friday frenzy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You feel kind of helpless and then when you look and see there's two officers off to the side that are just kind of like standing there watching all this happen and there's nothing going on, I thought they would be there to help. To make sure this kind of stuff didn't happen, but they just kind of watch it happen. That was the thing that was really frustrating.


COSTELLO: As you heard Duncan say, Wal-Mart is now investigating this incident. If you think the chaos was limited to Wal-Mart, think again. This is the scene at another store in West Palm Beach. They were cramming through the doors hoping to score deals on electronics.

Three suspected shop lifters are now under arrest after a wild chase that ended in gunfire at a Kohl's Department store outside of Chicago. This happened on Thanksgiving night. Police officers chased the suspects into the parking lot where one officer got caught in a getaway car after a struggle.

The driven then took off and dragging the cop across the parking lot. The second officer fired into the car hitting the driver and stopping the car. A third suspect was found inside the store. The officer and suspect were treated at a local hospital.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, the GOP finds a clear front runner are for the 2016 presidential election, and Democrats confess who their number one choice is if Hillary Clinton says no way for running for the White House.


COSTELLO: Checking our top stories at 15 minutes past the hour. An overnight explosion rocked a pipeline company in Missouri. No injuries reported. Some families in the area were evacuate the just as a precaution. Of course, an investigation is underway. Two loud explosions go off just outside a U.S. Air base near Tokyo. Investigators have found an improvised launch device. The Air Force says there was no damage or injuries. The U.S. base has been targeted before. Those incidents usually blamed on leftist guerrilla groups.

Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn hit the slopes for the first time since hurting herself in a crash nine days ago. She's had a test run on her injured knee yesterday. Vonn will have to miss three World Cup races this weekend, but says her first day back on the slopes was awesome.

Despite all the Black Friday shopping madness and some stores reporting record breaking sales, nearly four out of 10 Americans say the economy is actually getting worse. Take a look at this new CNN/ORC poll, only a quarter of Americans say the economy is starting to recover. And Americans seemed to be overall pessimistic. Nearly six out of ten say things are going badly in the country today.

Joining us to put this into perspective is CNN Political Director Mark Preston. Good morning, Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good morning, Carol. Tell you, terrible news for the Obama administration with this new CNN/ORC poll numbers. Certainly Black Friday a lot of people out there shopping, but they have a terrible outlook right now on the economy. What's really troubling about these new numbers that have just been out this morning is that we've seen an increase over the past six months now.

We've seen it go from 50 percent back in the spring up to 59 percent of Americans who think things are going poorly. Look at those numbers. When you only have a quarter of Americans saying that things are going well, Carol, I've got to tell you, not good news for the Obama administration.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about another poll that CNN just did. For the first time we're seeing a frontrunner in the Republican Party for the 2016 presidential election, 24 percent saying this report, the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Of course, Hillary Clinton is overwhelmingly the presidential choice for Democrats, but if you take Hillary Clinton out of the running, more and more Democrats seem to favor Vice President Joe Biden and I must say this surprised me.

PRESTON: Yes, no question. Well, look, you know, a lot of people think that Joe Biden is not the heir apparent to Barack Obama. That it really does lie with Hillary Clinton, but the fact is she doesn't run, Democrats at least at this point want to see Joe Biden run. What's interesting about this poll is that his closest competitor is Elizabeth Warren, somebody that liberals would love to see run in 2016.

They would love to Elizabeth Warren on the ticket, but Joe Biden does very well with moderate voters. He also does a little better than Elizabeth Warren when it comes to women voters. Now, of course, we are long way off, but of course, you know, these polls do give us a little indication about where we are right now -- Carol. COSTELLO: Well, on the Republican side, what's the take away? I mean, Chris Christie is a rock star. So you kind of expect him to come in at number one, right?

PRESTON: Yes. And you know, the interesting thing about Chris Christie is that not only did he win by a huge margin his re-election just last month or in earliest month, beginning in November, but he won convincingly. He beat a woman and he won the women vote. He won the majority of Hispanics. What's interesting about this number though is that you would think that Chris Christie would do well with blue collar Republicans.

And in fact, this poll shows that Senator Rand Paul does better with blue collar Republicans, people who make under $50,000 a year. Chris Christie does better with Republicans who make over $50,000. So he kind of has that knock them, sock them blue collar swagger, but he's not doing as well as some others such as Rand Paul.

COSTELLO: Well, maybe part of the problem is Chris Christie is in New Jersey, which is kind of hard for the middle part of the country to relate to, right?

PRESTON: Yes, a little work to do, but you know, again, a lot of road ahead for Chris Christie.

COSTELLO: All right, CNN Political Director Mark Preston, thanks so much.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, a celebrity chef's ex-husband now on the stand, two of Nigella Lawson's former aides are accused of fraud.


COSTELLO: Happening right now, the millionaire ex-husband of celebrity chef on the stand. I'm talking about Nigella Lawson.


NIGELLA LAWSON: There is for me no better way to eat bread. That's why thank goodness you can get this by the quarter loaf.


COSTELLO: You know her. Lawson's ex-husband, Charles Saatchi, is now testifying in the trial of two former personal assistants. Now those two assistants, both women, are accused of defrauding Lawson and Saatchi for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

CNN's Max Foster is outside the courthouse and some interesting testimony so far, right?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. These two sisters after they were accused of fraud started making allegations about Nigella Lawson's drug use claiming that she had a severe drug problem stretching back for the whole duration of this marriage. And it was around the time of that photo coming out where you saw Charles Saatchi holding his hands to Nigella Lawson's neck.

He says around this time he started hearing about these allegations. In October this year, he wrote an e-mail to Nigella Lawson and that was read out in court in the last hour or so. It's pretty dramatic, Carol. It does point out though this was meant to be a private e-mail to Nigella. He's bereft that it got leaked, but he says Nigella's side leaked it to the court as it were.

This is what it said. "Nigella, I was sent these by a newspaper and I can only laugh at your sorry depravity. These are the allegations from the Grillow sisters. Of course, now the sisters going to get off on the basis that you were so off your head on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked.

And yes, I believe every word the Grillows have said who, after all, only stole money." And the e-mail went on, but I'm sure it was all great fun and everything was perfect. Bravo, you've become a celebrity hostess on a global TV show. Free to hardly enjoy all the drugs you want forever, classy.

He does say it was only meant for Nigella to read and he also points out that he never actually saw Nigella taking drugs. There's no hard evidence that she was taking drugs, but he does believe the Grillow story and you know, he outlined it pretty clearly there.

COSTELLO: So whose side is he on? He does think the sisters are guilty of fraud, right, and he says, they essentially blackmailed Nigella Lawson in order to steal all of this money.

FOSTER: Well, what is fraud? Fraud is taking money without permission. I mean, there's been all of this talk of them spending more than $100,000 a month of his money or his company's money and using it for luxury lifestyle. They're not necessarily contesting that apart from a lot of the money wasn't used for them because they did all of the spending for the household.

But they do contest whether or not Nigella Lawson knew and they said she did know and she was hiding her drug habits from Charles Saatchi. Some people arguing in the defense, Charles is using this as an opportunity to get back at Nigella. He's also very upset about all of this money being taken away from him.

So we're just reporting what's in court, but certainly the defense think this is inappropriate that he's using it to criticize Nigella Lawson. I have to point out that the Grillows deny all the charges.

COSTELLO: Max Foster, interesting story. Thanks so much.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Black Friday madness in full swing at Macy's in Herald Square in New York City and in the middle of it all, Zain Asher. Hi, Zain.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE/BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thousands braving the call to shop on Black Friday. I'll have that story after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)