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Shoppers Starting Holiday Buying Later

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) study released Tuesday, the average person has completed far-less holiday shopping than in recent years.

The NRF’s 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch,  found that 41 million people have not yet started their holiday shopping.

The study also found that the average person had completed 47.1% of their holiday shopping by the second week of December, about 10% less than the 52.6% average completed by this time last year.

Of the 41 million who haven’t started shopping, the study said that the biggest procrastinators were men (20.7% haven’t started) and 35 to 44 year-olds (20.9%). Only 8% of shoppers say they have completely finished their shopping.

“Procrastinators are in good company this year because a shorter window between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year means that the holidays have snuck up on many of us,” said NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Retailers will try to manage the rush of last-minute shoppers with expanded hours, extra employees to stock shelves, and a lot of sales and promotions.”

While shoppers will be visiting a variety of retailers over the next 10 days, some categories will be busier than others. According to the survey, discount stores (43.0%) and department stores (42.5%) will be the top spots for shopping, with about one-third (31.8%) planning to visit specialty stores.

Additionally, a large majority of last-minute shoppers are planning to skip the crowds and visit the Web, with 40.2% of people planning to shop online for the remainder of their holiday shopping, up substantially from 34.9% a year ago.

In order to stick to a budget this holiday season, consumers continue to shun credit cards. According to the survey, two-thirds of shoppers (66.2%) have primarily used cash, debit cards, or checks to pay for holiday purchases, up from 64.5% last year.

Practical gifts reign this holiday season, with clothing being the most popular gift purchased (44.8%). Additionally, shoppers have been buying books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (40.8%); toys (33.1%); and electronics (24.5%).

As expected, fewer people have purchased gift cards this year compared to a year ago. Though gift cards are the most requested gift for the holidays, 24.3% of shoppers have purchased gift cards this holiday season, compared with 30.2% who had done so by this time last year.

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Target goes Thai with new designer

BY CSA STAFF

In one of the more highly anticipated launches of its GO International Collection, Target next week will introduce a new line of swimwear and apparel from Thakoon Panichgul.

Born in Thailand and raised in Omaha, Neb., since the age of 11, Panichgul is a designer who burst on the fashion scene in 2004, and quickly rose to prominence in fashion circles. He gained notoriety this fall when Michele Obama wore one of his dresses as she shared the stage with her husband after his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. The dress she wore that evening cost upwards of $1,000, and Panichgul’s other designs cost even more at retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Prices at Target will range from $16.99 to $44.99.

“Thakoon Panichgul is an extraordinary design talent with a keen eye, whose brilliantly priced collection is sure to please our guests,” said Trish Adams, senior VP at Target. “His silhouettes are trend-forward with an urban femininity, providing chic looks at a great value.”

GO International is a program squarely aligned with Target’s “expect more, pay less” brand promise, as it provides customers access to exclusive product created by well-known designers for a fraction of what they would pay in high-end department stores. The product offering also brings excitement, newness and a sense of urgency to the apparel department, since the collection only is available for a limited time.

Prior to Panichgul, Target partnered with American designer Richard Chai, whose designs were offered throughout August. And in October, it was Scottish-born designer Jonathan Saunders whose limited edition designs were found in Target.

According to the company, its newest line, called Thakoon for Target, provides a contemporary take on classic resort must-haves, with stunning graphic prints and a colorful palette.

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KB’s loss could be Target’s gain

BY CSA STAFF

As one of the nation’s largest toy retailers, Target is poised to benefit from the demise of KB Toys, as the toy specialist’s filing for Chapter 11 will likely result in the elimination of toy selling capacity.

KB Toys became the latest retailer to fall victim to the difficult economy when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following a significant drop in sales at its 277 stores. The retailer reported that same-store sales from the period between Oct. 5 and Dec. 8 fell nearly 20%. In its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, KB stated that it had debts between $100 million and $500 million and total assets in the same range.

The company said that it plans to close all of its stores and begin liquidation sales in the middle of the holiday season.

Back in January 2004, KB filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 after a dismal holiday selling period, only to later to emerge from bankruptcy in August 2005. This time around, the retailer isn’t waiting to see how the holidays turn out. Though the season is a critical time for most toy retailers, according to The NPD Group, toy sales are expected to be flat or down slightly from last year, so KB isn’t holding its breath.

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