ONLINE BUYING CONTINUES GAINS
A consumer survey by American Express finds airline tickets the hottest item in the online market, but gains were seen in all major categories.
Almost half the consumers polled bought airline tickets online this year, an almost fourfold leap from last year. About 40 percent bought music, computers and books online. Even clothing and shoes were purchased on the Web by more than 30 percent of respondents.
NEGATIVE SAVINGS TREND
It used to be that economists got upset when consumers spent more than they took in. Not any more. Such was the case last year, and it's continuing presently.
Excessive spending could make consumers more vulnerable in a recession, but for now some analysts believe that the heavy spending—up briskly in April—is the main oil keeping economic wheels turning despite the weight of rising unemployment.
CONSUMER DOLLARS GO TO STATE LOTTERIES
State lotteries are big business with Americans spending almost $38 billion a year on those tickets. That works out to a per capita average of about $140.
Massachusetts sells the most tickets, $3.7 billion, and Rhode Island the most per capita, $823. They did not feel as lucky in Montana with a per capita sale of just $33.
DON'T CALL, WRITE INSTEAD
More than six of 10 consumers either hang up on a telemarketing caller or else just screen it out. Why? A study by Pitney Bowes, leading postage meter supplier, found three of four feel the sales pitches aren't geared to their needs or interests, and almost as many said they'd prefer to receive direct mail instead.
MOTORISTS LOSE A DAY AND A HALF A YEAR
The time an average motorist spends just sitting in traffic is now 36 hours a year—having tripled in the last 20 years. Texas Transportation Institute also reports rush "hour" has grown to six hours a day, three hours each in the morning and evening, twice as long as in 1982.
One result of increased traffic is more aggressive driving, so of course that is being studied too. Measuring drivers' rude gestures, speeding, horn honking and flashing high beams, a survey finds that Boston, MA, has the most aggressive drivers of eight major U.S. cities studied. Close behind were Miami, FL, and Washington, DC.
IMPROVING ECONOMY HAS ITS WEAKNESSES
There are encouraging signs that the economy is improving such as upticks in the stock market and general expectations among economists that the yearend will see some further economic improvements. Yet, things are still flat. Three economic reports released May 25 all reveal weakness in the economy.
• National Association of Realtors reported existing home sales fell 4.2 percent in April, evidence that the still strong real estate market is starting to weaken.
• The gross domestic product, perhaps the best survey of economic health, grew at just over half the rate previously estimated.
• For the manufacturing sector, orders for durable goods dropped five percent.