It’s a seasonal tradition many consumers could do without — unpacking winter garb only to discover some has been rendered holey.
The usual suspects for the damage, the two species of clothes moths that menace innocent garments worldwide. Experts say infestations become more or less common as natural fibers like wool, down and silk — the bugs’ preferred snacks — go in and out of favor with manufacturers of clothing and home furnishings. “As long as we’re using natural fibers, it’ll be a problem,” says Jason Dombroskie, coordinator of the Insect Diagnostic Lab at Cornell University. (Moths are less active in the cold, but if your home is heated, they can wreak havoc year-round.)
Investors and homeowners got mixed messages about the nation’s housing market this morning, with the National Association of Realtors reporting that existing-home sales in September were down 1.7% from August’s levels, while the median existing-home price was up 11.3% from the year-earlier level. That good-news-bad-news report increases the odds that the nation’s housing struggles could be a major theme in the home stretch of the presidential campaign — especially since several “swing states” that could play a crucial role in the election have particularly weak property markets.
According to the “housing misery” index compiled by online real estate marketplace Trulia and updated this week, sunshine swing states — essentially, Florida and the West — are suffering more than most. Nevada and Florida have the highest scores on the misery index, at 70 and 58 respectively, thanks to an overall decline in house prices and rise in delinquencies and foreclosures in both states since President Barack Obama took office in 2008. “They are key battleground states in the election homestretch,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia. A third swing-state, Michigan, also ranks high on the misery index, with a score of 32.
A new study suggests that energy-efficient products now dominate sales in some appliance and electronic categories—and lag in others. Whether or not people buy those products may in some cases have less to do with eco-friendliness and utility bill savings than with the products’ secondary perks.
Energy Star is a program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy that identifies the most energy-efficient products on the market. Energy Star products account for close to 100% of the sales of some appliances like dishwashers and televisions, but they command relatively little of the markets for desktop computers and freezers, making up 17% and 21%, respectively, according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The report measured market penetration of Energy Star products in 2011.
She’s American, 28, has 208 followers, loves her iPhone, talks endlessly about her family and fashion – and her favorite color is purple. She’s also, according to new research, the average Twitter user.
This composite character was pieced together through an analysis of 36 million Twitter profiles by Beevolve, a social media marketing firm based in London — but it’s more of weird science than an exact one. For instance, among Twitter’s active followers, the mean number of followers is 208, but more than four-fifths of the micro-blogging site’s members have fewer than 50. And, according to the survey, 25% of Twitter’s 140 million accounts have never been used. (Though some 40% of users have not tweeted over the last month, they may log on just to read tweets by others, says Jim Prosser, a Twitter spokesman.) The average age of 28 was calculated by analyzing both user bios and tweets.
Forget Super Bowl Sunday. For a number of businesses, the real profits may be in a completely different sort of showdown: Call it Presidential Debate Wednesday.
With President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney set to square off on Wednesday night in the first of three nationally televised debates, considerable attention is going to the potential political drama, particularly given this event’s focus on hot-button domestic issues. And naturally, the struggling American economy is expected to top the list.
Facebook, Google and other tech companies have puzzled over how to make advertising work on mobile devices. But it turns out that tablet and smartphone users, when reading news sites, are more likely to click on ads than those using computers, a new survey suggests.
Consumers don’t appear to be turned off by mobile ads, according to a survey of nearly 10,000 people by Pew Research Center and The Economist Group. Half of tablet and smartphone users notice ads when they’re getting news on their mobile device. Of that amount, roughly 15% click on ads. “People notice ads on mobile devices and may be even more likely to click on them than they are to click on other digital ads,” the report states. A recent Ad Age study, in stark contrast, found that less than 1% of people click on digital ads regardless of the viewing platform.
Apple didn’t change the price of its iPhones with the latest upgrade, but analysts say owning one is about to get a lot more expensive.
The combination of a bigger screen, access to higher-speed LTE networks and the ability to use the FaceTime video chat app on a cellular connection mean the iPhone 5 – which goes on sale Friday — will likely gorge on more data than its predecessors.
Back in February, when Apple’s stock hit $500 – the same price as an iPad — we asked which was the better buy. Most experts said the company’s stock was headed higher – and they were proved right.
Oscar Wilde said, “Each man kills the thing he loves.” Many iPhone owners can relate.
Some 30% of iPhone users damaged their devices within the past 12 months, according to a study by gadget insurer Square Trade. The phones get far more scratched, soaked and abused than iPads, only 10% of which were damaged during the same time period, based on data from 2,000 customers. Perhaps part of the reason some 2 million new iPhone 5s were preordered in the first 24 hours is that many customers didn’t have a choice: Their older models needed replacing.
Today millions of seemingly rational people fished a fully functional iPhone from their pockets and contemplated hurling the device out the window. I know, because I am one of them.
Like many, I committed to the iPhone 5 upgrade even before Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new device with the usual burlesque slideshow presentation. It’s not that I have any major complaints with my iPhone 4S — sure, it occasionally freezes up and the battery doesn’t always make it through the day, but it’s probably the best piece of technology I’ve ever owned. Nor do I think the thinner, faster, bigger-screened and brushed aluminum iPhone 5 will do a substantially better job of delivering email, locating restaurants, playing music, or distracting my four-year-olds at restaurants with unusually slow service. But I want it anyway.
Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @SMPayDirt.