OPERATIONS

Increased number of shoppers intend to spend more for holidays

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — A report released Wednesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs found that consumers are more willing to spend this holiday season.

According to the 2012 Holiday Spending Intentions Survey, 19% of consumers plan to spend more (and 5% plan to spend substantially more) on holiday gifts this year versus last year. This is the highest percentage of consumers reporting they intend to increase spending over the previous holiday season since ICSC began asking the question in 2004.

The top three holiday-gift items for 2012 are gift cards (21.3%), apparel (14.1%) and toys and games (14.1%). Gift cards have consistently been one of the top items that consumers exchange during the holiday season, which is a key reason why the holiday season has been extended into January as gift-card redemptions dominate shopping in the post-Christmas period.

The top items that consumers say they want for this holiday season are: (1) gift cards (59%); (2) electronic gadgets (38%); and (3) electronic media (28%), which today spans music, CDs, DVDs and e-books. Interestingly, the ICSC-Goldman Sachs survey found that women are more inclined to want a gift card than men (63% versus 55%). However, men are more inclined to want electronic gadgets for their holiday gifts than women (46% versus 31%).

With the traditional holiday-season length being at its longest possible span this year (between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day is 32 days in 2012), consumers were asked when do they expect to finish their holiday-gift buying. About a fifth (21%) reported they intend to complete it within November with Black Friday shopping alone accounting for about 60% of the November completion target (or 12% of the November-December total). A little less than a fifth (19%) expected that they would complete their shopping by the first week of December and 27% thought the second week of December was their likely completion time frame. Another 20% reported the third week of December was their expectation for completion, while just 3% were real procrastinators, expecting to finish on Christmas Eve or later.

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OPERATIONS

Wal-Mart launches food subscription service called Goodies

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Wednesday it will officially launch its previously announced food-by-mail subscription service, called Goodies, which allows customers to trial sample-sized foods for a monthly fee.

For $7 per month, participants get a box of five to eight hand-picked, sample-size food items, ranging from organic to ethnic products that are not currently carried on Wal-Mart’s shelves. Wal-Mart, which first announced in May that its Walmart Labs division was researching the service, began testing the program in August and has to-date 3,000 subscribers.

Users sign up for the service at goodies.com. If they like the sample-size products, they can purchase full-size versions on the Goodies Co. website. Goodies has also created a social community online where subscribers can post reviews to earn loyalty points. The points can be redeemed in the future for items in the store.

“People love to talk about new food products,” Ravi Raj, VP products at San Bruno, Calif.-based Walmart Labs, said.

Wal-Mart said it is also looking to use Goodies as a way to spot food trends in its stores. “Wal-Mart is the (world’s) largest grocer but there’s room for us to innovate,” Raj said.

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Survey: Some consumers think Black Friday sales start too early

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Whiting, Ind. — Survey results released Wednesday by CouponCabin found that nearly a third (31%) of U.S. consumers feel that holiday shopping is starting too soon, with many stores opening their doors to shoppers Thursday, and in some cases, even Wednesday, night.

Stress is a factor, as many respondents reported that a variety of factors make Black Friday a nerve-wracking holiday. When asked which of the following stressed them out about Black Friday, U.S. adults said the following:

  • The thought of that many people in one store is scary: 34%
  • The item I want might be out of stock before I can purchase it: 28%
  • The competition among other shoppers for deals: – 26%
  • There are so many deals it’s overwhelming: 16%
  • Other: 8%

Even with the possibility of a stressful situation, many will still check out the sales on Black Friday this year. Two-in-five (40%) adults plan to shop either online or in-store this Black Friday. On the flip side, 60% said they aren’t sure or don’t plan to shop on Black Friday. Some shop the sale every year, as 16% said it’s a tradition in their family.

"Even though some people will avoid Black Friday this year, others who embrace it are likely to find huge discounts on a variety of items," said Jackie Warrick, president and CEO at CouponCabin.com. "If you’re one of the shoppers seeking deals this year, make sure to do your research ahead of time, plan your shopping strategy and check out the offers online before you make your buying decisions."

Some shoppers anticipate buying more on Black Friday this year than in years past. In fact, more than one-in-five (21%) of those who plan to shop in stores or online on Black Friday plan to spend more this year than they did last year. Fifty-two percent plan to spend the same amount, while 18% plan to spend less.

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