Buying behaviour

October 03, 2021

Tablets buyers turn out to be heavier shoppers: study

While there's still some debate about which one, Forrester Research claims that one in three of us will own a tablet PC by 2015, which is great news for retailers. 

Ad They're ecstatic, in fact, since consumers who shop with tablets seem to buy more frequently and drop more cash than traditional online shoppers. It’s all about conversion, of course, making sure the shoppers who show up actually buy something.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, on average, those using a laptop or desktop PC to visit a retailer’s website makes a purchase 3% of the time.

The conversion rate for shoppers who do their browsing via an iPad or other tablet, however, is more like 4% or 5%, according to data from Forrester.

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September 21, 2021

More older and educated people declaring bankruptcy

Times sure are tough across the border.

B The number of Americans with advanced degrees filing for bankruptcy jumped 20 per cent over the last five years, the Institute for Financial Literacy reports. And the Canadian numbers show a strikingly similar trend.

More and more people over age 55 are finding themselves having to file for bankruptcy as a way to get out of financial holes and to help rebuild their lives. 

Older debtors, particularly those on a fixed income, run into financial problems, largely because their cost of living keeps increasing.

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September 19, 2021

Human hair trade soars on celebrity culture

Talk about a crime wave.

Hair Discerning thieves have decided that high-end human hair is now a worthy target, forcing some hair retailers to take precautionary measures.

High-quality human hair retails for as much as $200 per bundle, with the average individual needing two to three bundles to complete a hairdo, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

And prices are rising as the growing desire for the glossy, long locks of celebrities has driven demand for hair through the roof, according to e-commerce site Alibaba.

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September 07, 2021

Can you still afford to eat out regularly?

On average, Canadian households visit a restaurant for a meal or snack 520 times a year, according to the most recent StatsCan data. And that number is expected to grow.

Dinner Even though their parents steered clear of eating out, many boomers have raised their kids to think that eating out in restaurants or from the take out window as Swiss Chalet is no big deal … something you do, well, when you're hungry.

But can you really afford it, asks MELISSAB, who blogs at Beating Broke. She doesn’t think so, particularly when you consider all the costs. 

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September 06, 2021

Do you split the cheque or try hard to pay separately?

Eating out with a group of people from work or your softball team can be a real hoot.

Cheque You know what's not much fun though? Trying to figure out who owes what when the cheque hits the table, particularly when you realize that how you pay often affects how much you pay.

A study done a few years ago found that people who dined out in a group spent more if they knew the bill was going to be split evenly. If each person settled up individually, the group as a whole ordered less.

Not surprisingly, if everyone knew that someone else was picking up the tab, they ordered twice as much.

But that still doesn't address the issue of you paying more than your fair share. So even split or separate cheques?

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August 25, 2021

North Americans lacking when it comes to self control: Study

From a coterie of self-sufficient farmers and thrifty merchants, the United States has evolved into a country where people not only want more than they have but generally want more than is good for them.

Book So says Daniel Akst, in his new book We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess.

It's an interesting treatise on how Americans (don’t gloat; Canadians fare almost as poorly) have slowly become consumers who simply don't know when to stop — even though their habits are bad for their health, finances, and the planet they live on.

Akst estimates that overeating, smoking, unprotected sex, drinking too much alcohol and similar excesses contribute to close to half of the deaths every year in the U.S.

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August 23, 2021

Is home ownership getting out of your reach?

The cost of home ownership in Canada is on the move again.

House The proportion of pre-tax income required to handle the costs of owning a home jumped last quarter for all types of housing tracked by RBC Economics housing affordability index.

The biggest jump was once again in Vancouver with the cost of mortgages payments, utilities and property taxes for a bugalow coming in at close to 93% of a typical household’s monthly gross -- up 10.4 percentage points from the previous quarter.

In Montreal, home ownership cost roughly half that eating up 43% of a typical family’s income, up 1.4 percentage points from the first quarter. Other major cities in the survey include: Ottawa (41%), Calgary (37% and Edmonton (34%)

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August 17, 2021

Do stores really match lower prices from competitors?

“We’ll match any price or give you a discount if you find the same item offered for less at another store," screams the ad.
But does it really happen?And will your time be well spent?Price Sometimes, particularly if you're politely assertive. Some outlets even offer the full difference and 5-10% on top of that. The only catch with price matching is that it's usually a bit of hassle, particularly if you care what the people behind you think and you don't really know the rules.

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August 15, 2021

Motor homes shrink in size but sales continue to climb

Hoping to get another weekend or two at the cottage before school starts? You may soon see some relief from the convoys of motor homes lined up ahead of you.

Rv The sluggish economy and high gas prices are forcing many monster RVs to the side of the road. And, it seems, the newer models that are taking their place are that much smaller.

"Fuel prices are driving it, but this is a cultural shift," says Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream, which converts delivery-van-style Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into low-key motor homes. "There's a shift away from conspicuous consumption," he told US Today.

Though these units are still priced upwards of $125,000, they typically don't have the panache of larger units. But they do get triple the gas mileage of some big gasoline-powered motor homes.

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August 10, 2021

Do more expensive wines actually taste better?

While many wine lovers will tell you otherwise, the most dominant flavour in that glass of Merlot may its price tag.

Wine That's the opinion of Robin Goldstein, whose paper detailing more than 6,000 blind tastings maintains that “individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine.”

Goldstein argues that most people buy wine based on image rather than smell and taste and that our expectations do influence our taste sensations.

As a result, when most people are given wine without seeing the label, they prefer cheap wines just as much or more than expensive wines.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...