Sensitive Santa event caters to children with autism
Glimcher Realty Trust, based in Columbus, Ohio, is launching its Sensitive Santa program again this year, a sensory-friendly event that caters to children with autism.
With approximately three to six children out of every 1,000 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it can be difficult for families of children with autism to enjoy some of the holiday celebrations and traditions most people take for granted, including simple things like sitting on Santa’s lap in a busy shopping mall.
For Glimcher’s Sensitive Santa event, held at 20 Glimcher malls on a Sunday morning during the holiday season, the Santa area becomes “sensory friendly,” meaning the lights and music are turned down, staff are instructed to avoid loud, distracting movements, and the mall is closed to shoppers. Working in partnership with Worldwide Photography, each family that attends receive a free 4 x 6 photo keepsake to commemorate the holiday season.
“We decided to launch Sensitive Santa across the portfolio last year to reach as many children and families that are affected by autism as possible,” said Michael Glimcher, CEO, Glimcher Realty Trust. “Our biggest hope is to see this program grow so that all families can enjoy this special and memorable part of the holiday season.”
Sensitive Santa started three years ago at Dayton (Ohio) Mall as part of the shopping center’s annual Magical Season of Giving, out of a partnership with the Autism Society, Dayton Chapter. Because of the success and impact of the event, Glimcher has rolled the program out portfolio-wide, and hopes to inspire other partners and mall developers in the future to provide this unique experience to families across the country.
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Walgreens touts Redbox movie rentals giveaway
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens will reward 1 million customers at its stores nationwide on Thanksgiving Day with a free one-day Redbox DVD rental, the drug store chain announced.
The DVD rental, which will be given to the first 130 customers (not including prescription purchases) at the chain’s more than 7,700 locations, will be valid at all Walgreens Redbox locations from Thanksgiving Day through Dec. 24.
“We’re pleased to build upon our existing relationship with Redbox to offer this reward to our early bird shoppers this Thanksgiving,” Walgreens divisional merchandise manager for front-end services Bob Cinq-Mars said. “The holidays are a great time to gather the family for a movie. This will be a good chance for some to try out the service for the first time and a nice bonus for many others who have long enjoyed the convenience and value of Redbox rentals at their neighborhood Walgreens.”
Online spending to increase 15%
New York City — Heading into the holiday season it was widely expected that online sales would enjoy another year of double-digit growth, and now new data from the online measurement firm comScore confirms those earlier expectations.
For the first 20 days of November, comScore reported that online sales had increased 14% to $9.7 billion, and forecast that online sales for the full November through December period would increase 15% to a total of $37.6 billion. If online spending hits comScore’s forecast, it will mark acceleration from the prior year when online sales increased 12% to $32.6 billion.
“The 2011 online holiday shopping season has shown strength in the early going with a year-over-year growth rate of 14%,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni. “With the persistent backdrop of macroeconomic uncertainty and continued high unemployment, consumers appear to be increasingly favoring the online benefits of convenience and lower prices. Based on the expectation that these positive spending trends will continue for the season, this year promises to be a Merry Christmas indeed for online retailers.”
According to Fulgoni, comScore relies on statistical modeling to forecast holiday sales that incorporate year to date online sales that are well above prior year levels along with other well-documented trends.
“These projected growth rates reflect the significant channel shift we’re witnessing from offline retail as an increasing number of consumers rely on the online channel for initial browsing, price comparisons and completing transactions,” Fulgoni said.
Alongside the firm’s reporting of behaviorally monitored e-commerce spending, comScore is also conducting regular surveys of approximately 1,000 consumers to determine attitudes and sentiment in regard to the holiday shopping season. In the most recent survey, conducted during November 17-21, consumers indicated that they believe retailers’ promotional activity for the early part of the season has increased in relation to last year. Specifically, 33% of respondents indicated that they are seeing more discounts, sales and promotions versus last year, compared with just 7% who said there were fewer. They also indicated that if retailers aren’t offering free shipping they aren’t likely to buy.
When asked how important free shipping is for making an online purchase this holiday season, slightly more than three-quarters of consumers indicated it was important, and 47% indicated they would abandon a purchase if they got to checkout and found that free shipping was not included.