FINANCE

NRF survey: Holiday bargains entice, but much more shopping to be done

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — A survey released Wednesday by the National Retail Federation found that aggressive holiday sales drew shoppers a little earlier this year, but many shoppers still have half their purchasing yet to do.

According to NRF’s 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average person had completed 49.5% of their holiday shopping by the second week of December, up from 46.7% at same time last holiday season.

“It’s well-known that at least half of the shopping that occurs during the holiday season happens during the last few weeks, making the final stretch of utmost importance to retailers,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With the big day falling on a Saturday this year and a lot of shopping left to be done, retailers will continue to push aggressive promotions in the weekdays leading up to it, hoping to remind shoppers they only have one more weekend to shop.”

According to the survey, 37 million people (16.9%) had not even started their shopping as of late last week, lower than the estimated 42 million people who said so during same point last year.

Additionally, 22 million (10.1%) say they have already finished, up from 8.6% who had finished by this time last year. Men admit to having completed slightly less than women at this point (48.5% vs. 50.4% respectively).

Most holiday shoppers (32.4%) plan to complete their list prior to Saturday, Dec. 18, yet Friday, December 24 (11.9%) is expected to be the second busiest day between the 18th and Christmas Day.

Of the people who say they have used their smartphone to shop this holiday season, 26.0% have used the phone to make an actual purchase. Nearly one-third (32.5%) are specifically using their phone to receive text messages with special offers and 34.6% are reading customer reviews. Locating store hours or locations (50.7%) and browsing for gifts (60.2%) are the most popular ways shoppers have used their phones thus far.

Department stores can expect the larger share of traffic over the next few weeks (38.4%), though online retailers (37.6%) and discount stores (36.5%) will also be popular shopping destinations for last-minute shoppers. Electronics stores (19.4%), clothing or accessories stores (18.8%) and outlet stores (10.8%) will also see their share of procrastinators in the coming days.

When it comes to gifts that have been bought so far, most say they have purchased clothes or clothing accessories (43.9%). Though books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (38.1%) have also been popular purchases. Consumers also bought toys (35.3%), gift cards (29.9%), consumer electronics (21.3%), food or candy (20.0%), and home décor (15.2%).

When asked which payment method they have used the most, 40.9% have used their debit or check cards most often. Nearly one-third (31.1%) have used their credit cards and 24.4% have used cash. Just 3.6% have relied on checks.

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News

Kohl’s expands Elle-branded line

BY CSA STAFF

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. – Kohl’s and Lagardère Active have announced plans to expand the Elle-branded contemporary lifestyle collection into fashion jewelry and beauty. The Elle Bijoux jewelry collection and Elle-branded line of cosmetics will be available exclusively in Kohl’s stores nationwide and Kohls.com beginning spring 2012.

“Elle has consistently exceeded our expectations in the contemporary category and with its demonstrated success, we are confident the brand will continue to be instrumental in driving our exclusive brand strategy,” said Don Brennan, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer. “Expanding Elle into additional categories allows us to increase the value proposition to our customer and delivers on our commitment to offer world-class brands in each category.”

Elle Bijoux will include runway-inspired fashion jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings, according to the companies. The Elle-branded line of cosmetics will ultimately include on-trend make-up and color, skin care, bath and beauty and nail products.

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FINANCE

U.S. consumer prices rose less-than-forecast 0.1% in November

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — The Labor Department reported Wednesday that the consumer-price index increased 0.1% in November after a 0.2% rise the prior month. The rise was less than forecast, indicating higher prices for commodities such as fuel aren’t filtering through into other goods and services.

The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a gain of 0.2%. The so-called core measure, which excludes more volatile food and energy costs, also rose 0.1%, matching the median forecast.

“Inflation is a non-threat right now, there’s a lot of slack in the economy,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pa., told Bloomberg. “Inflation will remain very subdued and tepid over the next several months.”

The measure of consumer prices was restrained by a second straight drop in new vehicle costs, cheaper household furnishings and a decline in natural gas.

A Labor Department report on Tuesday showed the producer- price index in November increased 0.8% and the cost of goods excluding fuel and food rose 0.3%, both more than forecast. The cost of goods imported into the United States, reported last week, rose 1.3% from the prior month, the most in a year.

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