CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Memorial Day deals, legislation to limit overdraft fees reintroduced, and how your phone makes you spend more at the store

ByMichael Finney and Simone Chavoor via KGO logo
Saturday, May 25, 2019
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CONSUMER CATCH-UP: What to buy -- and what do avoid -- at Memorial Day sales, Sen. Cory Booker reintroduces legislation to limit overdraft fees, and how your phone makes you spend more at the store.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- What to buy -- and not buy -- this Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day is commonly thought of as the start of the hot summer season. Well, our Memorial Day this year may not be that hot - but some of the shopping deals are! Here are some categories where shoppers can find great bargains... and some where you can afford to wait.

Traditionally, Memorial Day weekend is when mattresses, large appliances, and cars see deep discounts. Right now, it's a buyer's market for new cars. According to analysts, new-vehicle inventory reached 4.06 million units this past April. Plus, the number of days new cars sit on the lot before selling has gone up 6% from last year, meaning that new cars are now taking 75 days to sell.

"If you know that you want to buy a new car this year, this holiday weekend might be the best time to jump into the ring," said Jeremy Acevedo, an analyst at Edmunds. "Auto makers are going to be scaling back production this summer to address weakening demand, and given how expensive financing has become, they won't have the resources to throw as much cash onto other summer sales events this year."

However, according to MarketWatch, there are some things you should avoid purchasing this holiday.

Laptops, televisions, and similar electronics might see markdowns, but they'll be for "older, slower machines," according to online shopping expert Brent Sheldon.

Other categories simply have better sales at other times of the year. Power tools often go on sale in June to make the most of Father's Day, and jewelry sees price reductions just before Valentine's Day and again at the end of the summer when sales are slow.

Bill to limit bank overdraft fees revived

A 2018 bill to halt overdraft fees is being reintroduced to the Senate.

Sentators Cory Booker and Sherrod Brown are reviving the "Stop Overdraft Profiteering Act," which curbs banks' ability to charge customers overdraft fees. Overdraft fees are levied against customers who spend or withdraw more than their available balance - meaning that they can disproportionately impact those with low incomes.

The renewed legislation would push back against the expansion of overdraft fees, preventing them from charging the fees on debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals. It would also limit how often fees can be incurred on payments made by check.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has become more lax on enforcing overdraft fee limits with the Trump administration. They are currently considering overturning a rule that requires banks to get consent from customers before allowing the kinds of overdrafts that incur penalties.

"As the Trump administration questions the importance of the 2009 overdraft rule," said Senator Booker, "hardworking Americans are even more at risk of being trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty by these predatory fees."

Consumers spend more while distracted by smartphones, says study

Checking your phone while shopping could result in more spending, a new study says.

According to the University of Bath's "In-Store Mobile Phone Use and Customer Shopping Behavior: Evidence from the Field," shoppers who browse their phones end up spending 41% more than those who didn't.

Researchers suggest that the phone acts as a distraction that interrupts consumers' normal shopping habits, making them spend longer in the store and look at more products - leading them to buy more.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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