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Holiday Sets Stage for 2009

BY Marianne Wilson

A recent survey from The Nielsen Co. offers insight into consumer shopping patterns this holiday season—and what retailers can expect as they move into 2009. According to Nielsen’s 2008 Holiday Forecast, more than one-third (35%) of consumers across all income levels expect to spend less this season.

The survey leaves little doubt as to where the holiday action is likely to be: mass merchandisers, dollar stores, supercenters, supermarkets and warehouse-club stores are expected to attract the lion’s share of holiday spending as consumers shift their purchases to more value-oriented channels. Convenience and gas retailers may also come out ahead, with 12% of consumers expecting to spend more in these locations.

Online retailers are another bright spot, according to the report, with consumers increasingly turning to comparison-shopping sites to find bargains and check competitive prices.

The season is likely to prove the biggest challenge for department stores and electronic stores, with almost one-third (28%) of consumers expecting to spend less in these outlets this year, Nielsen reported.

“Whether it’s lower prices, instant rebates or free-shipping offers, value messages will speak to bargain-seeking consumers in today’s tough economic climate,” said Todd Hale, senior VP, Consumer & Shopper Insights, The Nielsen Co., Schaumburg, Ill.

Necessities (as opposed to novelties and luxuries) will rank among the hot items this year, according to Nielsen, along with practical apparel (undergarments, socks, fleece jackets and the like) and household goods (basic kitchen supplies and bed/bath linens). Also in: categories aligned with at-home entertainment, DVDs, mobile phones, books, wine and spirits, and video games. Indeed, this last category appears recession-proof, according to the survey.

As to how retailers can survive this holiday season and reinforce consumers’ desire for value, Nielsen offers these suggestions:

  • Manage inventory like never before to avoid extra inventory come January.

 

  • Recognize that necessities will drive strong sales this season. Gift cards for basics—grocery items, toiletries, baby-care products, gas and car repair—are all expected to do well.

 

  • Reach out to your best customers and make them feel special by providing special coupons or sale prices.

 

  • Leverage consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories, from toiletries to pet care to food stuffs, to drive basic gifts and stocking stuffers.

With no easy end in sight to the economic crisis, the report makes clear that the results of this holiday season will serve as an important precursor as to what retailers can expect in the New Year. Looking into 2009, Nielsen predicts more of the same as existing patterns intensify, with fulfillment of basic needs taking precedence over discretionary spending. Consumers will continue to trade down, and variety and convenience will continue to take a back seat to value.

But all is not lost. Nielsen advises companies to use the current economic slowdown to build competitive advantage, differentiation and loyalty. It reminds retailers that those companies that help drive the trends, as opposed to those that just react, will be best-positioned to grow and succeed.

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Best Buy LCD TV line to earn Energy Star label

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Best Buy has announced that its entire line of exclusive-branded Insignia LCD televisions manufactured after Nov. 1 will meet the new ENERGY STAR version 3.0 requirements, including six Insignia models which will exceed the new specification for energy-efficient televisions by 15% or more.

All Insignia LCD televisions available at Best Buy stores across the U.S. by Dec. 31 will be ENERGY STAR 3.0 certified. For more information and an updated list of brands meet the 3.0 specification, visit www.energystar.gov/products.

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Klein’s Markets joins Wakefern under ShopRite banner

BY CSA STAFF

KEASBEY, N.J. and FOREST HILL, Md. Klein’s Family Markets, based in Harford County, Maryland, announced that it will be joining the Wakefern Food retail cooperative. With membership in the cooperative, Klein’s will transition its seven stores to the ShopRite banner.

“Transitioning to the ShopRite banner will allow us to expand our offering throughout our store including a broader selection in our meat, produce, deli and bakery departments,” noted Marshall Klein, perishable director of Klein’s Family Markets. Marshall Klein also noted that the quality of the ShopRite private label brand was another consideration when deciding to join ShopRite. “Harford County residents will now have access to more than 3,000 ShopRite branded items, including imported specialty foods, that we believe will bring a new level of quality and value to our customers,” said Klein.

The Klein family becomes the forty-fourth member of Wakefern Food Corp. and will complete their transition to the ShopRite banner by the first quarter of 2009. In addition to providing its members with procurement, warehousing and distribution services, Wakefern is the marketing and advertising arm for ShopRite.

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