By Quentin Fottrell
A slow Internet connection could be costing you $8,000 a year in lost bargains. High-speed broadband allows consumers to browse more sites in less time (obviously) and seek out bigger bargains, according to a new study released by the Internet Innovation Alliance, a Washington-based non-profit industry group. So the next time you’re waiting for a page to load take a moment to imagine what you could do with all that loot. How about a fancy seven-day trip for two to Morocco? Or a nifty spin in Mitsuishis’s new electric car?
To be fair, round-the-clock access to online shopping also makes it easy to splurge. But that could be offset by the ability to instantly comparison shop can offer the potential for great savings. (The study says you can save 30% on $391 of over-the-counter drugs, for instance.) But all the bargain hunting could backfire. As Pay Dirt reported, people tend to spend more if they think they are getting a bargain. Experts advise consumers to shop smart. That is, separate the “need” (your weekly grocery shop) from the “want” (your third pedicure in a week).
The popularity of Groupon and LivingSocial has also helped consumer cut their spending in half, says Nick Delgado, principal of Chicago-based wealth management firm Dignitas and author of the IIA’s study, “The Real Cost of the Digital Divide in 2011.”
Some 66% of American now have a broadband high-speed internet connection at home, a figure that is little changed from the 63% in 2009, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Nearly 100 million Americans, many in rural communities or lower-incomes urban areas, don’t have broadband at home, and 24 million Americans don’t have any access at all to broadband services in their local community, according to the Federal Communications Commission
The average annual household spending on housing, food, gasoline and clothing quoted in the study is gleaned from the government’s annual “Consumer Expenditure Survey,” which was released last month by the U.S. Department of Labor. For a household that spends $5,000 on entertainment, they can save nearly 50% by using a faster broadband connection, Delgado says.