E-COUPONS SHOW PHENOMENAL REDEMPTION RATE
Eighty percent of Americans clip coupons every year and among this group e-coupons are catching on fast. Nearly 57 percent of those who click on e-coupons or get them via e-mail redeem them as compared with the 1.2 percent redeemed from Sunday newspapers.
Sites such as coupons.com and coolsavings.com let you print a coupon and redeem it at your local grocer. Other consumers look for an e-tailer's printed coupon with a special code and enter the code on a Web site to get a discount when buying online. The most popular online coupons are for groceries, books, health items and music.
E-coupons may have been why e-tailers had a jollier Christmas than did most retailers. Internet e-tailers reported their revenue doubled that of a year ago, while traditional merchants suffered flat sales.
RETAIL SALES TO GAIN WITH SURGE IN SECOND HALF
The National Retail Federation estimates retail sales will grow a healthy five percent this year, most of that coming in a second half surge. Retailing now is one-third of the U.S. economy.
In order to make that overall gain, however, sales first must overcome a glut in the specialty sales sector, which recorded a 19 percent increase over the last two years.
MS. HOME BUYER SECOND ONLY TO MARRIED COUPLES
The homeowner instinct appears to be stronger for women. Among singles owning homes, women outnumber men two to one. In fact, women own 18 percent of America's homes, and rank second only to married couples.
The average age of a single, female homeowner is 41, her annual income $39,700 and the median home price $102,300. Almost two-thirds of these homes are single-family detached rather than condos or townhouses.
COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE HIGH HOPES
College students often feel they are ready to take on the real world after graduation, and apparently they are just as optimistic when it comes to their expectations for jobs and salaries.
A survey of students by WetFeet.com, a recruitment-services provider, finds half the students are "very" or "extremely confident" they will find the job they really want. As for the compensation that's expected? MBAs look for $122,500 including a $20,200 signing bonus, and undergraduates look for $57,200.
COMPANIES TIGHTEN BELTS, EMPLOYEES GRUMBLE
Sure to exasperate 4,000 employees at Aetna, the big insurance firm, is the cancellation of free coffee for a company savings of $400,000 a year. Other companies reportedly are trying such belt-tightening tactics as dropping employee discounts, eliminating free food at company cafeterias and even removing water coolers. Employee bonuses may be next to go. Currently more than two of three firms offer no bonuses other than those tied to performance.
Researching the effects of these cuts on worker morale, a Rutgers University professor asks, "How can you be proud of a company that can't even afford coffee?" Research finds employees are much more receptive to such cuts when they know they are shared by executives.
JUST DON'T GET SICK
Health care costs for businesses are expected to spurt 11 percent this year, almost quadrupling the two to three percent inflation forecast. The cost of the increase would be 20 percent for small businesses. Fueling much of the cost increase will be drug prices, expected to soar 20 percent.
In answer, many firms are cutting back or ending retiree coverage and boosting worker premiums, co-pay and deductibles.