Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For November 29, 2009

Percentage of consumers who plan to ask their friends, family and loved ones for necessities instead of luxuries this holiday season, according to a recent survey by Black and Decker and Zogby International: 70

Percentage of respondents who would like to get an even split of practical and luxurious gifts: 17

Source: Zogby International.

Percentage of Americans who are of the view that "family responsibility" appears to be one of the key reasons that women do not break through the glass ceiling to the top ranks of management, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends Project: 34

According to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, percentage of women who now work or are actively seeking employment: 59

Among working mothers, percentage who work full-time: 74

Source: Pewsocialtrends.org.

Percentage of administrative professionals who support one to two managers, according to a survey from the International Association of Administrative Professionals: 45

Percentage who support three to four manager: 28

Percentage who support five to 10 managers: 18

Percentage who support 11 or more: 5

Source: International Association of Administrative Professionals.

Expected retail sales on the traditional Black Friday weekend, according to industry research firm IBISWorld: $42.9 billion

Estimated number of people who will swarm into retail stores on Black Friday alone, expecting to take advantage of this day to ensure they get all the items on their gift lists: 76.9 million

Source: IBISWorld.

Percentage of consumers who say increased credit card rates, penalty fees, etc. is one of the key financial difficulties they are facing, according to the Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index: 15.1

Percentage who say they are unable to afford medical bills or medications: 13.7

Percentage who have missed payments on a major bill: 9.2

Percentage who have lost or reduced their health care coverage: 7.6

Source: Consumer Reports.

Percentage of Americans who will visit mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart and Target to get the most bang for their buck this holiday season, according to the Blistex Holiday Shopping Survey: 73

Percentage of shoppers who won't let winter weather stop them from heading out to do holiday shopping -- rain, snow or shine: 66

Source: Zeno Group for Blistex.

Year that an airplane flew over Mount Greylock in Massachusetts dropping ice crystals into a cloud, creating the first artificial snow, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: 1946

Because of this experiment by noted scientist Vincent Schaefer, year that the first snow-making machinery was in regular use at a resort in the Catskill Mountains: 1952

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Despite job losses, foreclosures and climbing interest rates, percentage of Americans who are focusing on what they have and are feeling more grateful than they were at this time last year, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the Chinet brand of disposable tableware: 43

Percentage of U.S. adults who tell friends, family and colleagues every week that they're glad to have them in their life: 51

Percentage who vocalize this sentiment daily: 24

Source: Chinet.

Percentage of American households that use coupons, according to a study by Experian Marketing Services: 66

Percentage of coupon-using households that obtain their coupons from newspapers: 70

Source: Experian Public Relations II.

Percentage of leisure travelers who feel travel is affordable now, according to The Ipsos Travel Barometer: 41

Percentage of respondents who say that -- based solely on their personal finances -- they are somewhat or very able to travel: 47

Percentage of consumers who are also saying that they have the time availability to travel, indicating that there's a possible sweet spot for some travel suppliers and destinations: 66

Source: Ipsos Travel.

Idle Thought

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." -- Salman Rushdie

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at johnmacintyre(at)bwr.eastlink.ca.)