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Sam’s Club polls microbusinesses on providing health insurance

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — If you’re running a company of five or fewer workers, chances are you’re relying on funds for healthcare insurance from a source outside of that company. If you’re an employee of a microbusiness, you’re likely not relying on your boss to cover your healthcare benefits, according to the Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker
 
Sam's Club and Gallup discovered that microbusiness owners, many of whom are moonlighting to pursue their small business dream, are getting creative in financing their own healthcare coverage. Only 1-in-10 (9%) of the microbusiness owners funded their own healthcare insurance from within the microbusiness itself. More than 50% rely on their primary job or pay for it out of their own wallet, showing a diverse pool of sources for medical benefits:
 
  • 32% from a current or former employer that is not the microbusiness;
  • 23% from insurance paid for on their own but not through the microbusiness;
  • 19% from Medicare;
  • 9% from insurance paid for through the microbusiness;
  • 4% from military or veteran benefits;
  • 1% from a union; and
  • 1% from Medicaid.
According to the Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker, microbusiness owners with employees say they largely do not offer healthcare benefits to their employees now (76%), did not provide these benefits in the past (63%) and do not plan to offer these benefits in the next 12 months (70%). For those employers that do provide the benefits, looking at the business outlook ahead most (78%) plan to maintain them at a current level, with some (10%) increasing the benefits and some (7%) lowering them.
 
"The microbusiness owners we track in this study have demonstrated a steely resolve to know their customers and deliver quality products or services to market. Their sometimes razor-thin margin business models do not always leave room to cover health care,” said Rosalind Brewer, president and CEO of Sam’s Club. “Yet, health benefits are a key differentiator for many microbusinesses and a recruiting tool for top talent so it’s an issue the small business community is watching closely.”
 
The survey found that 1-in-3 (38%) microbusiness owners with employees see providing adequate benefits to their employees as a major issue. This number increases for newer microbusinesses.
 
In terms of financing, the Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker finds that owners continue to fund their business from a range of sources, with personal savings (66.6%) and credit cards (40.6%) remaining the most commonly utilized sources.
 
More veterans have used bank loans (37% compared with 28.7%) or retirement savings (38.2% compared to 27.7%) to fund their business compared to owners who haven’t previously served. Examining gender, male owners are more likely to use bank loans (34.1%) compared to their female counterparts (22.6%).
 
Microbusiness owners remain concerned about future cost increases, mainly taxes (67.2%) but also for employee health benefits (40.9%), utilities (37.9%) and other business costs, such as transportation (32.5%).
 
The Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker results reflect 1,006 phone interviews conducted Sept. 2-16, 2014 with companies of five or fewer workers. 
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Survey: Potential for data breach worries two-thirds of consumers

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — As the holiday season approaches, shoppers are apprehensive about the rise in credit card breaches at major retailers and adjusting their shopping behavior accordingly. According to a new survey from TheStreet conducted by GfK, two-thirds of them are concerned that their credit card and personal information will be stolen whether they shop online or in stores.
 
TheStreet asked consumers about their feelings regarding recent breaches as well as how they have adapted their shopping behavior and found that:
 
Sixty-six percent of consumers are concerned that their information will be stolen. 
Men are more apprehensive than women with 71% of men versus 61% of women saying that they were concerned. 
Age groups revealed a trend in how consumers are dealing with those concerns: 61% of 18- to 24-year-olds versus 49% of those 65 and older said that they would continue to shop in stores that have had security breaches but that they would use cash instead. 
Fifty-eight percent of men compared to 47% of women would continue shopping in stores with data breaches but would use cash instead.
 
The survey also asked if people would feel more comfortable paying for items with their phone using "digital wallets" instead of a credit card and found that:
 
Twenty percent of consumers would feel more comfortable. 
Twenty-three percent of women versus 17% of men would feel more comfortable. 
Those ages 18 years and 24 years old were more comfortable with the idea, with 28% saying that they would feel more comfortable using digital wallets versus only 9% of those 65 years of age and older.
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Deloitte: Consumers will increase spending this holiday season

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — Shoppers plan to spend more during the upcoming holiday season with omnichannel shoppers having even higher spending expectations. According to Deloitte’s 29th annual holiday survey, total holiday spending is predicted to increase by 13% to $1,299 per household, including gifts, socializing away from home, entertaining at home, non-gift clothing for family or self, home/holiday furnishings, and any other holiday-related spending not in the other categories.
 
Spending on just gifts is expected to rise by 9% to $458 from $421 the prior year. Consumers who shop across store, mobile and online channels are expected to spend 66% more on gifts than those shopping stores only, $592 compared to $357. The number of gifts consumers expect to purchase increased to 13.4, up from 12.9 in 2013, but nearly 10 fewer gifts than the high of 23.1 in 2007.
 
The internet and discount/value stores once again rank as the top shopping venues, with the internet number one for the second straight year. Nearly half (45%) plan to shop online, followed closely by 44% at discount/value stores. In-store purchases are expected to account for 52% of the holiday budget.
 
Shoppers appear undeterred by data breaches. More than half (55%) of respondents indicate they are concerned about the protection of their personal data when shopping online and 42% have the same concerns in-store. Though there is concern for personal data when shopping both online and in-store, 56% indicated they will continue to shop this holiday season at retailers that have experienced a data breach. Nearly four in 10 (36%) indicated “I am more likely to shop at a retailer who provides me education surrounding the security of my personal data.”
 
Other notable findings include:
 
• Consumers expect to make an average of five (4.6) trips to traditional “brick-and-mortar” stores during the holiday season.
• Clothing remains the top item consumers plan to purchase as a gift, cited by 45% of respondents; gift cards (43%) continue to hold the number two position, but are down from a high of 69% in 2007.   
• The top two gifts respondents would like to receive are gift cards (37%) followed by cash (35%).
• More than two-thirds (68%) plan to “shop local” this year. In the survey, “local retail stores” are defined as small businesses, independent retailers or boutique shops that are not part of national chains. 
• Forty-three percent of respondents will do a majority of their holiday shopping in December or later, an increase of 6% age points from 2013.
• Almost seven in 10 (68%) indicated they will go online to look at an item, then go to a store to see it and buy it in the store (“webrooming”).
• Nearly half (49%) indicated they will go to a store to look at an item, then search online for the best price and then purchase online (“showrooming”).
• Roughly three-quarters (74%) of shoppers say they will be influenced by coupons/promotions.
• Consumers plan to take advantage of a number of retailer offerings this year, including free shipping (68%), free returns (52%), price matching (45%), extended holiday hours (35%), order online for pick up in-store (34%) and free layaway (16%).
• Nearly half (47%) of shoppers say they do not rely on Black Friday as much as they used to for holiday shopping.  
 
 “With the short, 27-day shopping stretch between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, retailers need to be sharp with their promotional timing, inventory management and distribution capabilities,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and retail sector leader, Deloitte LLP. “Retailers that can fulfill orders from both online distribution centers and store inventories, for example, may be more nimble and poised to respond quickly to pockets of high demand for certain gifts—and ensure timely holiday deliveries.”

 

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