Savings accounts most popular place to stash money last year

Savings accounts were the investment vehicle of choice for Austrians last year, new research has shown.According to results of a new poll by GfK Austria released today (Weds) 52 per cent of Austrians put available money into them in 2009.That percentage compares to the 15 per cent of Austrians who chose to put money into such accounts in 2000 and 50 per cent who did so in 2008.GfK financial-market researcher Alexander Zeh explained the surge in savings accounts’ popularity since 2000 despite the low interest they pay as the result of feelings of insecurity during recession.People trusted what they were familiar with and were afraid to put money into long-term investment vehicles that could decline in value, he said.Poll results show that the second most popular investment vehicle last year was building society accounts, which 48 per cent of Austrians said they were interested in. That percentage, however, is lower than the 58 per cent who were interested in them in 2002.         Land was the third most popular investment vehicle, with 23 per cent interested in it, and life insurance was fourth, with 19 per cent interested in it.Gold and private old-age pensions subsidised by the state attracted the attention of 15 per cent, shares and mutual funds only seven per cent.GfK Austria has been polling 20,000 Austrians older than 15 on the subject each year since the 1980s.Popular savings accounts are paying practically no interest, according to the Labour Chamber (AK).AK consumer-protection expert Michaela Kollmann said last week that a recent AK “Mystery-Shopping-Test” at nine banks had shown that savings accounts at the banks were paying an average of only 0.125 per cent in interest exclusive of taxes on such accounts.She advised people interested in opening a savings account to engage in comparative shopping before doing so.Meanwhile, Austrians are cutting back as the economy continues to struggle out of recession, new research has shown.People are mainly spending less on food and dining out, according to results of a new study by Nuremberg’s Institute for Consumption Research (GfK) released this past Monday.Its poll of 10,200 people in nine European countries including Austria shows that 43.5 per cent of Austrians are shopping for the cheapest food and drink and 41 per cent are dining out less often.Meanwhile 36 per cent are saving by buying fewer household appliances, new cars and less furniture, 30 per cent are purchasing less clothing and fewer shoes, and 23 per cent are making fewer trips by car.