That Holiday Feed Bag, Improving on Men, Etc.

If you’re buying clothes as a holiday gift, get the “relaxed-fit” variety. A Fox News/ Opinion Dynamics poll on people’s holiday-eating plans suggests the recipients might need the extra room. Asked how many pounds they expect to gain over the holidays, fewer than half (44 percent) said “none.” Nineteen percent expect to put on one or two pounds, and 26 percent anticipate a gain of three to five pounds. More extreme are the 5 percent who think they’ll eat their way to a gain of six to 10 pounds and the 1 percent who think they’ll weigh 11-15 pounds more by the time the holidays are over. The same survey asked people to characterize their approach this year to holiday eating. Fifty percent said they’ll “try to eat healthy, but enjoy some holiday treats”; 41 percent said they’ll eat and drink whatever they want; and 7 percent will “completely stick” to their nonholiday diets.

Don’t expect consumers to spend their holiday bonuses on holiday shopping. Just 16 percent of workers expect to get one this year, finds a Maritz Poll. How do these lucky few plan to allot the loot? Forty-two percent said they’ll use it to buy holidays gifts for family and friends. That figure doesn’t count the 10 percent who’ll spend it on gifts for themselves. Another 10 percent will use the bonus to fund a vacation. Sixteen percent will save or invest the money; 12 percent will use it to pay bills. Maybe your co-workers should give you a bonus even if your boss doesn’t. Elsewhere in the poll, 37 percent of workers said they plan to give gifts to their co-workers, while 22 percent said they’ll buy the boss one.

Car buyers love gadgets. But do people love them well enough to pay what they’ll cost? A study by J.D. Power and Associates examined that question by presenting a list of two-dozen automotive features and asking consumers whether they’d be interested in having them. Respondents were then asked if they’d still want them after being told the likely cost of each item. Night-vision systems were the top item on respondents’ initial list, but fell to 18th place when the $1,800 price tag was attached. External-surround-sensing technology fell from No. 3 to No. 14 when respondents factored in its price ($1,500). By contrast, adaptive headlights came in second in the initial vote and rose to No. 1 when price ($100) was cited. Other features holding up well when price was a factor included electronic stability control ($600), anti-whiplash seats ($300) and brake-by-wire ($400).

Current conventional wisdom to the contrary, baby boomers don’t devote all their time to getting and spending. Indeed, one of the ways in which they define themselves is by their volunteer work. In a recent AARP survey, 57 percent of respondents age 45-57 said they’ve done volunteer work in the past 12 months for a non-profit organization, school, hospital, religious organization or other worthy group. Among all adults age 45 and over, 49 percent of men and 53 percent of women said they’ve done so. About half said they do such work “sporadically,” while 38 percent “pitch in each month.”

While men could use some improvement, most wouldn’t care to do it surgically. In a survey conducted by Glamour in partnership with, men were asked which of seven plastic-surgery procedures they’d pick if they could have it free of charge. A majority of respondents (63 percent) said they wanted no such assistance, thanks very much. Among men who’d go under the knife, liposuction was the top pick (17 percent), with nose job and tummy tuck tied for second (7 percent each). There were few takers for calf implants (2 percent), eye lift (2 percent), Botox (1 percent) or chin implants (1 percent).

The phrase “business traveler” likely evokes the image of a weary man trudging through an airport. But a report from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics points out that 81 percent of long-distance business trips (i.e., those to a destination at least 50 miles away) are made by car. Even among business trips to places 250-499 miles away, 67 percent are made by car—as are 33 percent of those to destinations 500-749 miles away. The male part of the business-traveler stereotype is more accurate, though, as men account for 77 percent of business trips.

We’re doomed—doomed!—to a winter of telecom ads that urge us to switch cell-phone carriers now that we can keep our old number while doing so. But are consumers eager to make such changes? Not to judge by the results of polling conducted as the FCC’s new rules on “number portability” took effect. A poll of cell-phone users by Synovate found relatively few of them either “extremely likely” (7 percent) or “very likely” (10 percent) to “switch to another cell service provider knowing that you can keep your current phone number.” A similar survey by Ipsos-Insight found little difference in intention between cell subscribers who are aware of the new rules and those oblivious to them (see the chart below). Along the same lines, a Gallup poll found just 13 percent of cellular users planning to switch carriers due to the new portability rule. Gallup also found 87 percent saying they have no plans to replace their home or business land lines with cell phones as a result of number portability. Maybe these telephonic stick-in-the-muds will be swayed by the onslaught of advertising by telecom companies, but it seems the latter will need to work awfully hard to achieve that result.