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  HALLELUIA!  There may not be a rash of spending this Christmas, but if the National Retail Federation’s latest survey is at all correct, we can all expect an encouraging boost in sales as consumers ease up on their budgetary tightness and actually let go of some of those iconic greenbacks.  Yes, indeed, says the NRF, this holiday season is shaping up to be somewhat better than last year’s.  And, we all know that anything is an improvement worth rooting for!

NRF’s Holiday Consumer Intentions and Action survey indicates that total spending on gifts is expected to rise 2.1 percent to an average of $518.08 per person. Holiday sales, in general, are expected to go up 2.3 percent to $447.1 billion. Oh, those billions are nice to see when we are talking national sales, aren’t they?

Consumers are still aching from the sting of the recession, one national newspaper claims.  But there are small signs that they feel a bit more confident than last holiday season. On one hand, a big trend in gifts this year is expected to be simple necessities, with luxury items falling far behind.  That is in keeping with 2008/09 Holiday patterns.

On the other hand, though, there is a growing number of consumers who seem to be more willing to splurge this year on gifts.  Understanding that, gift recipients are getting a little bolder, too!   NRF’s survey shows that 23 percent of people will ask for jewelry this year, a more than 10.5 percent jump from 2009!

The number of people who will buy gifts for themselves this year has also gone up, a full 8 percent to 57.1 percent.   — So, what do you want for Christmas?  You might ask yourself that question!

CHRISTMAS GIFTS ARE ALWAYS A JOY TO SHOP FOR, EVEN WHEN MONEY IS TIGHT.  LOOK HERE FOR SOME WONDERFUL ITEMS AT GREAT VALUE PRICES:

 

 

                                      Gift Cards Are Hot

THE NUMBER OF BUYERS who listed customer service or quality as the most important factor in buying gifts rose, the NRF survey found, although recessionary factors still remain strongly in place. Discounts, sales, and low prices in general remained very important buying considerations, indicating that economic restraints still wend significant influence on what is purchased. 

What individual gift recipients want for Christmas was also noted in the survey.  For example, 57 percent of people surveyed put gift cards on their wish lists; understandably, gift cards remain the most popular holiday gift.

Although discounted items were given high consideration by people surveyed, it is interesting to note that the number of people shopping at discounters (or expecting to shop at them) has fallen from 70.1 percent to 65.1 percent this year.

When people will buy their holiday gifts was also probed by the NRF survey, which found that 37.2 percent expect to begin their shopping by Halloween.  It is not that long ago that major holiday shopping did not begin in earnest until Thanksgiving!

                                                Baby Steps

“CONSUMERS WILL STILL SHOP with the economy in the back of their minds, but we’re starting to see shoppers take baby steps toward a new normal,” declared Matthew Shay, President of NRF.  Many retailers agree.  

For example, Julie Veenstra, assistant manager of the Helzberg Diamonds store in Wellington, Florida, says, “It’s obviously way too soon to see how things will play out, but it just feels like there’s an energy in the store lately.”  The Palm Beach Post further reports her as saying that more people are putting things on layaway for the holidays, and there is increased interest in sterling silver, an affordable alternative to white gold or platinum. 

Still, while there are many positive signs in play, most fashion accessories executives warn against feeling too optimistic about sales this year.  Consumer confidence, they contend, is still shaky. What’s more, 67.1 percent of shoppers say the economy will affect their spending this year.  Now, that is admittedly down from last year, but it is still significant.

The message:  Rejoice, but conservatively.  Rock bottom, it seems, is behind us!

 

BUYING GIFTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS?   HERE ARE SOME DYNAMITE ITEMS AT PRICES YOU’LL APPRECIATE:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, November 8th, 2010


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