Survey: Holiday Sales Forecast Up Despite Slowing Market
New Canaan, Conn., Customer Growth Partners (CGP) has issued its annual holiday sales forecast, predicting 5% to 5.4% annual growth, in line with average growth rates of the past decade and despite continued soft apparel sales.
“As we said after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, when gasoline prices rose well above $3 per gallon, Americans are far more resilient than the experts expect,” said CGP president Craig Johnson. “And just as sales rose 7% at holiday 2005, despite Wall Street expectations of a low-growth Christmas, 2007 will see over 5% holiday sales growth, held down only by a stubborn housing slump.”
Turning to this year’s hot merchandise categories, Johnson said it will be a very “tech Christmas.”
“Apple is today’s leading fashion icon,” Johnson said. “The ‘it’ items this year are not handbags but iPhones and Wii’s. Nobody stands in line to buy a handbag or a sweater. But they do stand in line at 5 a.m. at every Wal-Mart and Best Buy in the country on mornings Wii shipments are arriving.”
In highlighting CGP’s forecast, Johnson said, “Based on energy and consumer statistics going back 30 years—and ten major energy and disaster events since—Americans have always been pluckier than the pundits predict, particularly at the holidays. Based on everything we’ve seen to date—and with the caveat that both apparel and home improvement are still in the doldrums—this year should be no different.”
IKEA Welcomes In-Store Hostel
IKEA in Norway is making customers feel right at home by offering them a bed at night and some breakfast, too.
The furniture giant in Furuset, Norway—located in the outskirts of Oslo—is offering free overnight lodging to shoppers as part of a promotional effort to become a temporary in-store hostel.
IKEA shoppers in Furuset, Norway now have the unique opportunity to stay overnight in the store.
“A large number of beds are not being used at night, and we think it is nice to be able to offer people free accommodation—especially at the end of the summer when a lot of people have little left of their holiday budgets,” company spokesman Frode Ullebust said.
From July 23 to July 27, shoppers can spend the night in special rooms set up in the store, with a choice of a bridal suite, complete with hanging chandelier and a round bed, or a luxury suite that includes breakfast in bed.
Others can share a bunk in the dormitory, while parents and children can stay in a family room.
Children can stay in colorful and vibrant bunk bed rooms.
Guests, which were required to make reservations through the store directly or on its Web site, can bring back souvenirs. The company will provide bathrobes with the IKEA Hostel logo, slippers and bed sheets for guests to take home afterward.
The stay also includes a free breakfast and dinner. And to make getting to the location easier, IKEA is offering a free bus from Oslo to its Furuset location.
Ullebust said the store will be open as usual and the promotion shouldn’t affect the shopping experience of its regular customers.
Living room areas are also available for in-store hostel guests.
“However, you may end up meeting our guests in the bedroom department from 10 p.m., and perhaps see a few sleepyheads in their beds when the department store opens in the morning,” Ullebust said.
Customers might also run into IKEA’s own hostel staff, which will be busy making the beds and getting ready for the company’s nighttime experience.
Ullebust said the company expects the promotion to have a positive impact on IKEA’s in-store experience.
The bridal suite is for romantic couples. It comes with a hanging chandelier and a round bed.
“We are hoping for a lot of interest,” Ullebust said. “We expect even more smiles than usual on the week of the IKEA-hostel.”
The company said that if the run is successful, it would consider increasing the number of days for the promotion next year and possibly launch several other IKEA hostels in Norway.
IKEA’s New Campaign Explores the Meaning of Home
IKEA is launching a multi-million dollar, multi-component brand campaign designed to highlight the importance of home in America. The retailer launched its “Home is the Most Important Place in the World” campaign in late September, with a press event at Cedar Lakes Studio and Theatre in Manhattan.
To convey the idea of home and the comforts therein, the retailer transformed the theatre with residential touches. IKEA sofas and loveseats filled the audience floor. Caterers, clad in pajamas, walked the floor with such comfort food offerings as peanut butter and jelly, milkshakes, and macaroni and cheese. Refrigerators complete with family drawings, post-its and take-out menus, were placed off to the side. They were stocked with milk, water and soda. And bowls of popcorn were placed throughout the room so attendees could snack throughout the presentation.
Actress/comedian Amy Sedaris, who is also the author of “I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence,” kicked off the event with amusing anecdotes about her own home life.
Amy Sedaris kicked off IKEA’s new campaign by sharing stories about her own home life.
“I love being at home,” Sedaris said. “In fact, I offered to host tonight’s event from my home over a phone patch, but they won’t let me do that.”
Sedaris lives in her Greenwich Village apartment with her rabbit Dusty. “My entire apartment was designed around her,” she joked. “I chose paint colors based on their names alone, like ‘straw,’ ‘dandelion green,’ ‘carrot orange,’ ‘green leaf’ and ‘marsh brown.’ I also live with my imaginary boyfriend Ricky, who can sometimes be distant and transparent.”
Sedaris said she loves to entertain at her home “because I believe it is a place to share. The most important part of my home is that it is an extension of me,” she added. “It tells my story in pictures. Home means comfort.”
Attendees sat on IKEA sofas and chairs that were later donated to charity.
At the event, IKEA revealed results from a recent poll conducted to learn more about the attitudes, feeling and habits about American households. These results helped shape the new campaign, according to Pernille Lopez, president, IKEA North America.
“[This] campaign isn’t about bricks and mortar, or real estate value,” Lopez said. "We intend to bring to life the understanding that home is more than an address; it’s a secure place where we can celebrate our lives and embrace family and friends."
“This research has given us an incredible insight and ability to provide people with furnishing solutions to make their everyday life at home easier,” Lopez continued. “By launching our first national-brand campaign with such magnitude and such a strong opinion, we hope to raise awareness and discussion about the topic.”
About 94% of those polled believe home is the most important place in the world. This finding, according to Lopez, speaks to the heart of the IKEA brand campaign.
To add to the "home" allure, comfort food was served and drinks were kept in refrigerators.
The new brand campaign includes a short documentary film, “America at Home,” which follows seven U.S. families throughout their daily activities (available for viewing at ikea.com), and a new TV commercial, in 30 and 60 second formats, that illustrates the great diversity of lifestyle home options across the globe. Television, outdoor, online and cinema advertising will support the campaign.
Additionally, the campaign includes a large-format photo book, “America at Home,” featuring home photos by professional and amateur photographers around the country. It will be available in March 2008.
Lopez also detailed two initiatives IKEA at the event, the first of which involves the issue of family homelessness.
“We will work with the alliances and organizations in our local communities to insure that children who are being re-housed will have a warm, clean bed,” Lopez said. “And for older children, a place to study. We will pilot this program this year and roll it out to all IKEA U.S markets in the following year.”
The second initiative is with IKEA’s long-time partner Save the Children.