Televisions and computers will continue being intertwined in the home of the future. A parent can get some office work done while watching TV and monitoring a kid at play in the backyard via picture-in-picture and a closed-circuit camera. And in the kitchen the refrigerator will manage a grocery list, placing orders for home delivery of foodstuffs as needed.
HOME SALES BEAT MORTGAGE INCREASES
Rushing to lock in mortgage rates before they rose even higher, home buyers pushed May sales of existing homes above expectations. Sales rose 4.3 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.09 million units.
Many economists were surprised because they had expected the market to cool as interest rates rose. Now all signs point to a booming market with the year finishing just two percent shy of last year's record total of 5.197 million homes sold. The national median existing-home price now is $137,200.
REMEMBER GREEN STAMPS? THEY'RE BACK . . . ON THE WEB You might not be old enough to have sat around the kitchen table helping Mom and Dad paste up coupon books full of S & H Green Stamps, the national stamp frenzy launched by Sperry & Hutchinson Co. in 1896 eventually all but died out. But following acquisition last year,
S & H did a man-on-the-street study and found just about everyone remembered Green Stamps.
So now Green Stamps are back as Greenpoints offered by more than 100 e-commerce merchants. S & H also is pushing Greenpoints offline with co-branded frequent-shopper clubs aiming to let consumers earn points for anything from filling a gas tank to shopping on the Web. S & H also is working with regional grocery chains around the country to bring Greenpoints to the checkout lane
BUY OR SELL YOUR BUSINESS ON THE WEB
In March, eBay launched Business Exchange for entrepreneurs to buy and sell supplies and equipment on the Web, but it got out of hand. Now entire businesses are being auctioned off on eBay. One traditional business broker says, "You would have to be nuts to buy a business that way." But he charges the usual 10 percent commission, whereas eBay charges at most five percent.
Unlike eBay, which is an auction site, Biz Quest links business buyers and sellers through a database of 15,000 small companies for sale. About 2.3 million small businesses are now buying online, and 1.3 million of them say they're interested in banding together to bargain.
SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS TO GO TO THE POLLS
A new survey of small business owners finds almost 90 percent are determined to vote this fall, and the majority is angry with the level of taxation and regulation by state and federal governments.
The National Federation of Independent Business, which conducted the survey, says this is the first election year in a long time with so many issues vital to small businesses such as tax rates, Social Security reform, the elimination of the death tax and association health plans.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
The differences between women and men shoppers is nearly always being explored. A recent university study discovered women are much more likely to buy on impulse:
• 36 percent of women buy things they don't need versus 18 percent of men
• 24 percent of women said they can't resist a sale versus five percent of men
• 31 percent of women shop to celebrate versus 19 percent of men.
A Wall Street Journal study finds that a large majority of women say they have become equal to men in making decisions about big purchases such as buying a home or car, either by acting autonomously or joining in the decisions.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
It's not always good to be rich. The top five percent of income taxpayers, those with incomes of $108,048 or more, pick up more than half of the total U.S. tax bill. The top one percent, with incomes of at least $250,736, paid a third of the nation's income tax.