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MasterCard: In-store Black Friday shopping to rise over last year

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Forty-one percent of respondents are expecting to make purchases in-store this holiday season more often than they did last year, which should make for a busy Black Friday, according to MasterCard’s 2013 Holiday Spending Survey.

The survey also found that more than half of Americans who use their debit or credit card for holiday purchases and have a rewards program plan to cash in their points this season. Of this group, 40% will strategically spend on one card only to rack up rewards points.

In other findings:

  • Consumers are most likely to say shopping (30%) and holiday budgeting (23%) are their top stressors
  • Spouses are hardest to shop for as identified by 26% of shoppers followed by children (23%) and then parents (Mom 18%, Dad 13%)
  • Men are significantly more likely to dread shopping for their spouse or partner (32%) compared with women (20%)
  • Forty-three percent of Americans polled preferred receiving a gift card over other gifts

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Verizon unveils lifestyle store concept

BY Marianne Wilson

Bloomington, Minn. — Verizon Wireless unveiled its Verizon Destination Store format, at Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn. The new concept is designed to help customers discover all that wireless technology can do for their mobile lifestyles.

The 9,715-sq.-ft store features interactive lifestyle zones where customers can engage with associates and experience wireless gadgets, apps and tech gear, running on the Verizon Wireless 4G. The zones include Get Fit, for the active sports and fitness buff, Have Fun, for gamers, and Home on the Go, for home monitoring and energy management. Additional departments include Amplify it, for music aficionados, and Anywhere Business, for the mobile professional and entrepreneur.

The new store also includes a dedicated workshop area with seating where an education specialist can share tips about getting the most out of a device and lead classes in front of a large touch-screen digital display screen. Customers also can visit the Customize It Zone and create colorful covers for their smartphones and personalize them with photos. For a fun experience, a huge Focal Wall toward the back of the store beckons customers to approach and see themselves appear as avatar surfers, guitarists and more.

The Verizon Destination Store is part of a broader initiative that includes the redesign of Verizon Wireless’ more than 1,700 retail stores throughout the country. Called Smart Stores, the newly designed locations showcase the same mobile lifestyle zones as the Verizon Destination Store on a smaller scale. In addition, the company plans to open a number of Verizon Destination Stores in the next few years in high traffic locations across the United States.

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Prosper Insights predicts holiday winners and losers

BY Marianne Wilson

Worthington, Ohio — Target, Kohl’s, Costco, Macy’s and Old Navy, with an honorable mention to J.C. Penney, are the holiday 2013 retail winners, according to business intelligence provider Prosper Insights & Analytics. The firm on Tuesday released its Holiday 2013 Retail Winners & Losers list at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer and Retail Conference.

Prosper Insights noted that the terms “winners” and “losers” are relative with consumer spending expected to be down this year. Still, the company said, there are some bright spots this year: Retailers that have an effective omnichannel strategy, are promotion-heavy, and carry a strong consumer base of higher-spending Gen X’ers will likely perform better than others in a zero-sum game.

“Knowing who your consumers are and how they are feeling is even more critical when you are grasping for a smaller piece of the pie in an off holiday season,” said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst and consumer insights director for Prosper. “We’ve identified a mix of key metrics that enables us to look at a holistic view of shoppers to predict which retailers may be positioned for a better holiday season this year.”

Holiday 2013 retail losers include Kmart, Walmart, Toys “R” US and Sam’s Club. In announcing its holiday losers, Prosper Insights noted some retailers have a customer base that is more susceptible to uncertain economic conditions, which will likely impact their outlook for the holiday season.

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