LAND OF OPPORTUNITY
In case you couldn’t tell, 2002 was the home-building industry’s best year, according to Commerce Department figures released earlier this year. Last year, 976,000 new homes were sold, up 7.5 percent from 2001.
Nationally, December’s new home sales jumped 3.5 percent from November, setting a monthly record.
But wait, it gets even better: the National Association of Realtors also reports that sales of existing homes set a record in 2002, and the Commerce Dept. adds that 68.3 percent of adult Americans own their own homes, also a new high.
IDENTITY THEFT BECOMES NO. 1 CONSUMER CRIME
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says in 2002 it received 162,000 reports of identity theft, making it the most widely reported consumer crime since the agency started issuing reports three years ago. The 2002 figure compares with 86,000 the previous year, as reported in the New York Times. In about one out of four reported cases, information from stolen identities was used to open new credit card accounts. Loan and bank fraud made up another 23 percent of all identity theft. Fraudulent new cell phone accounts made up about 10 percent of cases.
The places with the most victims per capita were the District
of Columbia, California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas.
Suggestions for avoiding having your identity stolen include shredding financial documents and giving out Social Security numbers judiciously.
HAVE WE MET?
For today’s business execs e-mail seems to be preferred over meeting in person. A recent study published by the staffing firm Accountemps, shows 92 percent of 150 executives polled said managers are more likely to send e-mail than call a face-to-face meeting.
That could be a problem. The firm says regular meetings with employees should be scheduled to avoid confusion about work or about the company’s mission or goals. Face-to-face meetings, it adds, reduce the potential for miscommunication.
Meetings are particularly effective if the topic involves debate or requires reaching a consensus.
Just what is it that consumers want? If it were a matter of organizing a few focus groups or conducting a few surveys it would be easy to figure out. But the problem is that consumers can say what they are interested in, but can’t translate that into specific products.
v For example, surveys show consumers are interested in improving their health, but Brian Johnson, adjunct professor in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, says consumers define health oriented products as anything from aroma therapy to exercise gear and vitamins. It seems to boil down to consumers are looking for inner peace. How retailers offer that is up to them.
PULLING THE RED CARPET OUT FROM UNDER YOU
On-the-go salespeople often find airline clubs at busy airports good places to schedule meetings between flights—they offer a range of amenities including privacy, telecommunications, Internet connections and accessibility, perfect for last-minute deals.
But hold on a minute! Guidelines imposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could put a crimp in these plans. Access to airline clubs is restricted to those people flying or holding gate passes, but under new, stricter rules only club members who have scheduled a meeting in the club at least 24 hours in advance can obtain the gate passes needed to get everyone beyond security checkpoints.
TSA says the rule maintains a “sterile area” beyond the airport security checkpoints. One airline spokesperson said his company imposed the 24-hour rule because it did not have the staffing to run lists by the TSA every time someone who was not traveling called for a room.