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AmEx sees America on the move

BY Ken Clark

American Express says 35 million Americans plan to move this year; that’s up 50% from last year.

The New York-based financial company’s Spending & Saving Tracker also reports that seller confidence increased 36%; and 72% plan to spend an average of $4,000 on home improvements.

The data, available in its entirety here, paints an optimistic picture that is consistent with the current theories of a slowly recovering housing market, and even goes a step or two further. Perhaps not coincidentally, the study tracked affluent homeowners (minimum income of $100,000). 

“Consumers are investing in their homes this year across nearly every category from DIY to new home furnishings,” said David Rabkin, senior VP U.S. Consumer Lending Products, American Express. “Whether they’re redoing one room or the whole house, there is a significant bump in spending that should bode well for many merchants.”

Even if Americans aren’t moving, the vast majority (72%) of them have at least one home improvement project on their to-do list this year, expecting to spend an average of $4,000, up from $3,500 in 2012.

The tracker study also found:

  • 62% have plans to purchase new home accessories or furniture;
  • 63% are remodeling their interiors, spending an average of $3,300;
  • 39% are remodeling outdoors or landscaping, spending an average of $1,800;
  • 39% are re-doing a single room, spending an average of $2,900; and
  • 33% are updating their appliances, spending an average of $1,033.

While many believe the improvements will add to the value of their home (30%), the majority is upgrading because they want a home that better reflects their personal styles (33%).

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,518 adults, including the general U.S. population, an affluent demographic, defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000, and homeowners.

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CG&P takes accepts two Walmart supplier awards

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Walmart recognized Central Garden & Pet Co. as the retailer’s Outdoor Living Supplier of the Year. In addition, Central won the People Award for Walmart’s Home Division.

Walmart annually recognizes its top suppliers that demonstrate superior customer service. 

“Winning not just one but two awards from Walmart is a tremendous honor considering the standard of excellence that Walmart instills in every aspect of its business,” said John Ranelli, president and CEO of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Central Garden & Pet. “Achievements like these represent a collective, company-wide effort to understand our consumer and work in concert with Walmart as partners to drive meaningful value for the consumer. These are core principles we live every day at Central."

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Wellness incentive spending doubles over four years

BY SHRM online staff

Corporate employers plan to spend an average of $521 per employee on wellness-based incentives in 2013. This marks an increase of 13% from the average of $460 per employee reported in 2011, and double the per-employee average of $260 reported in 2009, according to an employer survey by the nonprofit National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments.

Data for the survey were collected in October and November 2012 from a sample of 120 U.S. companies spanning a range of fewer than 2,000 to more than 50,000 employees.

In addition to higher spending on wellness-based incentives, the survey found that the overall use of these incentives among corporate employers continues to increase. Nearly nine out of 10 employers (86%) surveyed indicated that they offered wellness-based incentives, an increase from 73% in 2011 and 57% in 2009.

The most popular wellness-based incentives continue to be:

• A decrease in premiums (offered by 61% of employers).

• Cash or gift cards (55%).

• Employer-sponsored contribution to a health savings account or similar heath care-based savings vehicle (27%).

While the percentage of employers offering wellness-based incentives has risen across all markets, the results illustrated significant growth in the midmarket, where 77% of employers plan to offer wellness-based incentives in 2013 — more than double the 38 percentage of midmarket employers that offered such incentives in 2010. In addition, almost half of employers in the midmarket (45%) plan to offer average incentives of more than $500 per employee.

A majority of employers (54%) will expand their wellness-based incentives to include dependents, up from 45% in 2011. And almost half (49%) will include spouses/dependents in communications about wellness programs. 

Requiring risk assessment or biometric testing

Fifteen percent of employers are mandating that employees complete a health activity — like an employer-sponsored biometric screening or a health risk assessment — in order to determine their eligibility for one or all of the company’s health plans in 2013. The survey results further revealed that:

• 10% of employers will be requiring workers to complete a health assessment or risk being moved automatically into a less attractive subset of the company’s health plan.

• 7% of employers indicated that failure to complete a biometric screening would result in an employee being switched into a less attractive subset of the company’s health plan.

• 3% of employers indicated that failure to complete a health assessment or biometric screening would result in a loss of benefits for 2013. 

Tailoring programs to reward behavior

Forty-one percent of employers include, or plan to incorporate, outcomes-based metrics as part of their incentive program; this gives both employers and employees a measurable goal that can be used to reward behavior or results in certain health categories, such as lowering cholesterol (used as a goal by 30% of employers) or blood pressure (29%) or reducing waist measurement (11%).

“An increasing number of employers understand how wellness programs contribute to a healthy workforce,” said Helen Darling, president and chief executive officer of the National Business Group on Health, in a media release. “And it’s encouraging to see employers take the necessary steps to tailor their wellness programs in a way that will [incentivize] and motivate their employees to engage in health-improvement activities, and find ways to reward them for their progress.”

©2013 SHRM. All rights reserved.

Have HR-related questions and concerns? Get access to essential forms, policies and guides, plus a live call center, aToolkitHR.com, powered by HCN and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). 

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