BOSTON (TheStreet) -- We haven't had a city-crippling blizzard in a few weeks, but that month between now and spring has a lot of cold and cabin fever left in it. Get ready.
Melting snow piles and solid days' worth of sunlight aren't making winter-stricken America any more comfortable of a place to be, as the sun tends to lie this time of year and lure hopeful morning commuters into bright, blue-skied hotbeds of hypothermia. Guzzling coffee or cocoa and cursing the seasons is the least costly coping mechanism, but huddled post-recession hermits are signing up for modest sessions of retail therapy.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose this month to its highest point since February 2008. That optimism about income and the economy weathered the worst storms January could throw at the country, with retail sales rising 7.8% from January 2010 to $381.6 billion after increasing 4.4.% in the fourth quarter. If the U.S. is ready to shop its way through the winter, who are we to impede this seasonal-affective-disorder-induced economic recovery?In the interest of comfort and convenience, TheStreet has come up with seven must-have items for any cold-weather recluse. It looks like a checklist for pessimistic misanthropes, but if you've spent the past few months digging out your sidewalk and steps just to have them snowed under again or digging out a parking spot just to find a neighbor's plastic patio chair "claiming" it when you return, chances are you could use these services to deal with a few less people as well:
Let the investors sweat over whether media companies will renew their sweetheart content deals with Netflix. Consumers still get tens of thousands of titles that they can stream over 200 devices -- including just about every Apple
Depending on what Netflix user you talk to, the new pricing scheme introduced in November is the greatest little bit of awesome since Starz's Party Down came back to streaming or the biggest sellout move since the 30-day new-release window. Netflix raised the price of its one-at-a-time DVD and streaming plan from $8.99 a month to $9.99, but offered streaming alone for the first time for $7.99 a month. That pretty much ended any argument about how Netflix values new releases and DVDs -- they don't -- but consumers didn't seem all that put off by the change, as the subscriber base grew by nearly 3.1 million, to more than 20 million overall.