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Target liquidation, oil rebounds past $50 & robot cars: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP


The biggest business story of the week was definitely news (which Sophia Harris first broke on Monday) that Target Canada’s liquidation sales would start on Thursday.

After a judge gave the OK on Wednesday, the process was underway on Thursday and the chain started marking prices down to move merchandise and pay back creditors

The crowds came, but many of those who spoke to CBC reporters on the ground left disappointed by meagre discounts and empty shelves. It wasn’t the bonanza that many were expecting, but certainly something to watch in the coming weeks as we move closer to the day when Target’s ill-fated launch in Canada comes to an official end.

January car sales strong

One company may be on the wane, but there were encouraging signs this week that another key industry may be on the mend. The start of the month brings new monthly data on car sales, and January proved to be a decent month for Canadian car companies.

Especially anyone in the truck business. Most companies saw double-digit sales growth in light trucks, during a month which is not historically known for being a strong one for car sales.

It’s good news for an industry that’s had its fair share of bad headlines in recent years. As auto analyst Joe McCabe told CBC this week, that shows the industry has learned from its mistakes. “They are listening to what the customer wants, in terms of a vehicle,” he said.

It’s early days yet, but that’s an encouraging sign for a key Canadian industry.

Robot taxis taking over?

But that wasn’t the only automotive news making headlines this week. Two tech giants, Google and Uber, announced in separate news stories this week that they were each climbing into each other’s turf. We already knew Google was working on a driverless car, but this week the company revealed it’s thinking of taking the next logical step and getting into driverless ride sharing.

That’s big news for Uber, who appeared to be more than ready for the revelation. Because the ride-sharing company says it, too, plans to test out driverless cars in its fleet in the future.

It’s all the stuff of science fiction for now of course, and years away from fruition no matter who gets there first. But as noted science-fiction nerd (and amateur economic prognosticator) Don Pittis wrote this week, driverless cars make perfect sense and will make all of our lives better — once we can get past the scary notion of being in a moving vehicle that no person is in control of, that is.

No matter how it turns out, the fact that two heavy hitters in tech are climbing into the space is a sign the driverless car is a topic we’re going to be talking about for a while yet.

Teed off caddies

And speaking of an industry updating itself to modern realities, professional golf was in the news for a new reason this week. That’s because a group of PGA caddies are suing the tour for $ 50 million US, claiming they are tired of being treated like human billboards covered in ads while not being compensated for it.

The tour says they’re independent contractors, paid by the golfers they work for, so they aren’t owed anything else. But the caddies say they are entitled to a slice of all that revenue that’s being generated by their services.

The fight is about money, but there’s also some bad blood, as the caddies have long complained about being treated like second class citizens who don’t have access to facilities the players do.

“This lawsuit is intended to protect the rights of caddies who are required to endorse tour sponsors with zero compensation from the PGA Tour,”  the caddies’ lawyer Gene Egdorf told us this week. “Any working professional deserves to be paid based on the income they generate, but that’s not happening on the PGA Tour.”

Other stuff

Those were some of our biggest stories this week. Be sure to check back with our website often for more, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter here. In the meantime, here’s a list of some more of our most popular offerings this week.

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CBC | Business News