FINANCE

NRF: Gift card spending to reach $27.8 billion this holiday season

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — Holiday shoppers are expected to spend $155.43 on average for gift cards this season, and total gift-card spending is projected to reach $27.8 billion, according to a survey released Friday by the National Retail Federation.

NRF’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that eight in 10 shoppers will give gift cards this year, thanks to e-gifting, instant delivery through Facebook, personalized video and mobile giving options. Average spending is expected to be the highest since 2007.

Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season (80.2% versus 77.3% in 2010), gift givers will also spend more on each card they buy. Shoppers will spend an average of $43.23 per card, up from $41.48 last year. Men will spend significantly more on gift cards than women this year, shelling out an average of $164.24 versus women’s $147.06.

When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, most shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (38.7%), restaurant (33.8%) or an entertainment venue such as a night at the movies or music event (18.2%.) Others will buy gift cards to book stores (19.8%), coffee shops (15.9%) and discount stores (13.0%).

Practicality wins as the most likely reason shoppers will buy gift cards this year as 46.4% say they will buy gift cards because it allows the recipient to select their own gift. Additionally, 19.4% say they will choose the cards because they are more convenient, as they are easier and faster to buy.

For those who don’t buy gift cards, reasons given are that cards are too impersonal (26.1%), they are concerned about fees and expiration dates (17.4%) or they’d rather buy items on sale to stretch their dollar (9.1%.)

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OPERATIONS

Oracle: One in four consumers to start holiday shopping this week

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — One in four consumers will start their holiday shopping this week, according to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted this fall by Oracle. The report, “Oracle Holiday Shopping Snapshot 2011,” finds that Black Friday and Cyber Monday still reign supreme when it comes to getting consumers out to shop.

In other findings:

  • Forty –three percent of consumers say they have already started their holiday shopping, while plenty will hold off until the last moment.
  • Twice as many men (11%) will wait until the final week of the season to shop, versus fewer than 5% of women.

No matter when consumers turn their attention to holiday shopping, retailers must be at the top of their game across all retail channels in order to capture sales, the report advises. Sixty-three percent consumers expect to do more than half of their shopping in stores, and that shopping is preceded by visiting e-commerce sites.

In all, 54% say they rely on websites to research and browse products before they buy.

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REAL ESTATE

AT&T opens ‘Retail Innovation Center’

BY Staff Writer

Chicago — AT&T announced the opening of the AT&T Retail Innovation Center in Arlington Heights, Ill.

The 10,400 sq.-ft. space — more than twice the size of a conventional AT&T store layout — is designed to showcase the company’s most innovative products and serve to gather customers’ feedback on new retail concepts — all designed to help shape the ultimate customer experience across AT&T’s more than 2,300 stores nationwide.

“Our customers want to learn how they can make the most of today’s technology to improve every aspect of their lives,” said Kent Mathy, AT&T president, North Central Region. “Our retail Innovation Center is uniquely designed to provide that education. Customers will interact with our products and get a first look at our most innovative customer service strategies at this location before we launch them nationally.”

The store includes interactive, touchscreen walls, where customers can check out the latest apps on a large scale and see how to make the most of any smartphone and tablet, and demonstration areas where customers can try out the latest in AT&T technology.

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