sealPurdue Lifestyles News Briefs

December 1998

Internet shopping no threat yet to stores and catalogs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University retail expert says holiday shopping on the Internet may triple this year, but stores won't be any less crowded.

Richard Feinberg, professor of consumer sciences and retailing, says that even if Internet retailing reaches $4 billion nationally in 1998, it still is a drop in the bucket next to the year's $60 billion in catalog sales and the $2.3 trillion in merchandise sold in stores.

"Consumers will not desert the thrills and spills of in-store retailing in great numbers despite the sometimes frantic shopping environment," Feinberg says. "No amount of hassle, no number of rude sales associates, will change the habit American consumers have of finding great bargains and values inside stores. Consumers like to touch, feel and smell the products they purchase."

Feinberg predicts that the Internet retailers that will do the best this holiday season are those with a strong brand name image and/or presence, such as and CDnow. He says catalog retailers with strong brand names, such as Lands' End, also will find Internet shoppers seeking them out.

Feinberg says many consumers like the convenience of Internet shopping, but are wary of purchasing products over the Internet. He says retailers are taking measures to combat some of those fears, such as pointing out their security measures to on-line customers.

Anxious shoppers also find the high-speed information highway too slow. "They still enjoy shopping for the perfect gift and carrying it home that moment. Consumers don't like to wait for the product," he says.

CONTACT: Feinberg, (765) 494-8303; e-mail,

Workers unhappy with projected retirement income

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A copy of Sharon DeVaney's study on retirement income satisfaction is available from Beth Forbes at the Purdue News Service, (765) 494-9723.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The vast majority of working people are not satisfied with the amount of money they expect to have for retirement, according to research by a Purdue University expert on retirement finances.

In a study of self-employed and wage-and-salary workers, Sharon DeVaney, assistant professor of consumer sciences and retailing, found that only 15 percent of persons in each group were satisfied with their expected pension and Social Security incomes.

"Most people these days plan to work some after retirement. However, if poor health inhibits their ability to work later on, then their financial well-being may be in jeopardy," she suggests.

A recent poll from the American Association of Retired Persons shows that eight out of 10 baby boomers plan to keep working at least part-time after retirement.

Retirement income traditionally has been viewed as a three-legged stool consisting of Social Security, employer-provided pensions and private savings. "Many people believe that the three legs of the stool have weakened and that a fourth leg -- earnings after retirement -- will become increasingly necessary," DeVaney says.

Her study used data from the 1995 Survey of Consumer Finances, a triennial cross-sectional survey sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board and the Department of the Treasury. The study included approximately 1,000 self-employed workers and about 2,000 wage-and-salary workers.

DeVaney found that older workers were happier than younger workers. "As people age, they are more likely to save for retirement, which increases their satisfaction," she says.

The findings were presented at the November meeting of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education.

CONTACT: DeVaney, (765) 494-8300; e-mail,

Attitude change will cure communication anxiety

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A little change in attitude can calm the butterflies in your stomach before a job interview or business presentation, says a Purdue communications professor.

"We tend to think of situations like these as performances, and in that case, it's no wonder we get keyed up," says John Greene, an expert in communication anxiety.

He says the anxiety felt in those instances is the same as that triggered by any situation in which we feel we are being evaluated. "The trick is to change our focus. Whether it's an interview or a speech or whatever -- what we need to do is concentrate on communicating versus performing," he suggests.

Greene says folks have no problem with nerves when chatting with family or socializing with friends. That's because the focus is on sharing thoughts and ideas with no worries about appearance or making a mistake. He says that even during more formal occasions, communicating is made easier when people focus on the ideas they want to get across rather than on making a good impression.

Greene says people tend to judge themselves more harshly than others when it comes to public speaking. "Natural hesitations, 'ums' and the like are all a part of normal speaking," he says. "For the most part we tune those out when we hear them because as listeners, we are focusing on the message and not on the way it's presented."

But a little rehearsal is good even if that job interview or presentation isn't a performance. "It's a disservice to yourself not to prepare for these situations," he says. Greene suggests practicing answers to tough questions or reading over your presentation several times before giving it.

However, don't prepare to the point that you sound scripted. "Spontaneity is a good thing -- and so is enthusiasm. Both can give any presentation sparkle," he says.

A few nervous willies are good, too. "When we're nervous, we're aroused, we have energy. Research shows that we do our best when our level of arousal is neither too low or too high -- but somewhere in the middle," Greene says.

Greene researches communication-skill acquisition, communication anxiety and the mental processes involved in speaking.

CONTACT: Greene, (765) 494-3320; e-mail,

Compiled by Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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