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It's a curse: Impulse buying costs Canadians thousands a year Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.

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How we spend
Remember this number the next time you’re simply in the mood to shop whether you need something or not: $3,720.

That’s how much Canadians spend a year, on average, for things they want but don’t necessarily need, according to a poll released by Bank of Montreal. Men, by the way, outpace women in that area by more than two-to-one.

“The majority shop to improve their mood, while nearly half regret purchases after the fact and sometimes spend more than they make on a monthly basis,” the bank said in the study by Pollara, released today.

I think I knew this, but lacked the numbers.

Here are some highlights:

  • Some 60 per cent do it to cheer themselves up.
  • Fifty-five per cent do it because a specific item is discounted.
  • Forty-two per cent grab goods they don’t use.
  • The biggest culprits are clothes, restaurants, entertainment and shoes.
  • Fifty-two per cent regret what they’ve done.
  • Forty-three per cent can spend more in a month than they make.
  • Almost one-third have borrowed for their impulses.
  • Men spend double the amount of women, largely on dining out and clothes. Women spend less for the same thing.
  • Impulse buying is more prevalent among young people.

The bank says only one out of every five people take a look at their non-essential shopping in a monthly review, with many thus “avoiding the reality” of what they’ve done.

The bank, of course, wants you to put money in a BMO TFSA or savings account, but the survey results are still interesting and worthwhile in this uncertain climate.

Remember that Canadian consumers are juggling record debt burdens, a concern to the Bank of Canada and the federal government.

Factoring out mortgages, consumer debt in Canada has climbed 100 per cent over the past 10 years.

RIM at 80 million
Research In Motion Ltd.’s stock price is on a bit of an upswing, after the company released several pieces of good – or at least reassuring – news, The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad reports.

The BlackBerry-maker saw its stock price jump today after it announced its user base has jumped to 80 million users, up from 78 million at the beginning of this month.

Perhaps more important, the company also reassured developers, customers and investors that its new slate of BlackBerrys is still scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2013.

Retail sales rise
On the same day as the BMO report, the latest reading of retail sales shows Canadian shoppers picking up, though largely because of cars, which, presumably, aren’t an impulse purchase.

Retail sales in Canada climbed 0.7 per cent in July, Statistics Canada said, with sales of autos and parts up 1.7 per cent, largely at new car dealerships. When you factor out autos, sales were up 0.4 per cent.

But general merchandise stores also chalked up gains of 1.5 per cent, while department stores saw an increase of 2.9 per cent.

July’s gains more than offset the loss in June, with sales up in eight of the 11 categories measured, or more than 70 per cent of over all business.

Gains were broad-based, including merchandise stores, gasoline stations and building materials (the latter likely helped by above-normal temperatures in Central Canada)," said Emanuella Enenajor of CIBC World Markets.

"Vehicle sales also gained, after several months of weakness. All provinces registered gains – highlighting the broad-based nature of July’s uptick. Today’s positive retail data follow a string of earlier negative readings for July, including poor wholesale, factory shipments and international trade numbers. Taken together, today’s data still pegs July’s GDP at roughly flat."

Business taxes among lowest
Canadian businesses may gripe about a lot of things, but they shouldn’t moan about their taxes.

The tax burden for businesses in Canada is second lowest among 14 major countries and lowest among developed countries, according to a KPMG survey of international tax competitiveness, The Globe and Mail's Barrie McKenna reports.

“This helps our attractiveness around the world and helps us compete,” said Elio Luongo, KPMG’s Canadian managing tax partner. “We need this to compensate for other costs.”

How Apple is shaping the world
It’s amazing, even troubling in some respects, to think of the impact of gadgets from Apple Inc.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has already projected a bump in U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter of the year because of the new iPhone 5.

Now, the New York City Police Department has noticed the contribution to crime in its area.

Indeed, the NYPD said in a statement, a rise in theft of Apple products this year is outpacing the increase in crime in general.

The NYPD cited 11,447 incidents of theft for Apple products between the beginning of the year and Sept. 23.

That’s up 3,280, or 40 per cent, from the same period of 2011. Over all crime was up just 4 per cent.

The NYPD cited increases in burglaries, robberies and, to a lesser extent, grand larcenies involving Apple devices.

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