March housing starts slip 6.8%
U.S. housing starts backtracked in March, falling 6.8% even as building permits eked out some progress.
Total housing starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,215,000 last month, down from February's revised estimate of 1,303,000. However, this is still 9.2% above the March 2016 rate of 1,113,000.
Single-family starts fell at a slightly less dramatic rate (down 6.2% for the month), coming in at a rate of 821,000. That's down from February's revised rate of 875,000.
More optimistically, an increase in building permits pointed to the possibility of a speedy recovery. Permits clocked in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,260,000, up 3.6% over the revised February rate of 1,216,000 and 17.0% above March 2016.
Single-family permits numbered 823,000, however, which is 1.1% below the revised February figure of 832,000.
Regionally, the Northeast was the only area of the U.S. that actually saw major month-over-month progress in March: a 12.9% boost in starts (though this is down 14.9% year-over-year).
The Midwest and West got hit the hardest since February, down 16.2% and 16.0%, respectively.
Study: Shoppers will share personal data if it benefits them
Despite privacy concerns, consumers will share data with companies if it saves them money or resolves customer service issues faster.
This was according to a recent study conducted by YouGov on behalf of customer experience company |7, which tapped 1,145 U.S. consumers.
Nearly half (43%) of consumers agreed that they would exchange personal data with companies to save money through personalized promotions, discounts or deals, followed by 39% looking for speedier issue resolution.
Off-target messages and privacy concerns proved to be the biggest deterrents for consumers receiving personalized marketing messages, the study reported.
Cost-savings are universally seen across all age groups as the top benefit to sharing personal data — information such as e-mail, age, location, interests, previous purchases, etc. — with millennials' willingness to share data for deals (49%) slightly outranking GenXers (44%) and baby boomers (38%).
Relevancy is the primary reason consumers embrace personalized marketing messages (26%). But off-target messages irritate consumers, with a similar percentage of respondents stating that irrelevancy was on par with invasion of privacy as a major cause of annoyance.
Twenty-nine percent (29%) said irrelevant messages were the leading reason they were bothered by personalized messages. Slightly more than that (32%) cited "it felt like an invasion of privacy" as the top reason they disliked a personalized message.
Privacy concerns ranked high among consumers, with 28% stating, "I don't like it when companies have my information when I don't explicitly provide it,” when asked about their overall feeling towards companies using personalized data.
Almost half of those surveyed (47%) had higher expectations about their customer experience as a direct result of sharing personal information with companies, with age proving to be a significant factor. The younger the respondent, the higher their expectations, with over half (59%) of millennials noting the more data they share the higher the expectations for a better customer experience, followed by GenX (47%) and baby boomers (38%).
While consumers are willing to share more personal data, they are particular about when and why. For example, 22% surveyed are open to sharing personal data after buying a product or service in exchange for an improved level of customer service in the future.
Likewise, 16% would share data post-purchase to receive ongoing information from the company, and 17% only want to share information if they encounter an issue that requires resolution. However, trust continues to be a deterrent to disclosing personal data, with 27% of consumers stating they would not share their information at any point.
When it comes to which industries make the best use of their information, insurance (50%) and financial services companies (48%) use of their personal data to deliver a better experience. These two industries outperformed retail, travel and hospitality, utilities and telecommunications in consumer perception, with the telecom industry receiving the lowest ranking (38%).
"If used correctly, consumer data can play a valuable role in improving the customer experience, but this information should be used wisely to avoid alienating customers," said Scott Horn, chief marketing officer, 7.
"The key to a great customer experience is dependent on companies' ability to understand a consumer's true intent,” he added. “If companies understand precisely what a customer is trying to do and where their interests lie, they can deliver a more personalized interaction that doesn't feel intrusive.”