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Survey: Politics/social issues will influence holiday shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

U.S. consumers are paying closer attention to social issues and politics than ever these days, and it may be changing the way some of them plan to shop for the holidays.

In The NPD Group annual “Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, 52% of consumers said that a manufacturer’s or a retailer’s position on social or environmental issues would impact their holiday buying decisions, up 3% from last year. Among the Generation Z cohort (born after 1997), that number rose to 65%, followed by Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, at 55%.

“In this mid-term election year, political polarization and activism is on the rise in this country, and it’s bleeding into the upcoming holiday season, especially among younger consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group. “While many might disregard the social and environmental views of younger consumers, they do so at their peril,” After all, the oldest Gen Z consumers are just now entering the workforce – and the purchasing power of this generation will increase significantly in the years ahead.”

NPD noted that Gen Z will account for 40% of all consumers in 2020.

“Younger generations want – and will pay a premium for — brands that stand for something and those that have corporate social programs that are aligned with their values,” Cohen said.

Political issues are also influencing consumers. Nearly half (47%) of all U.S. consumers indicated that general political issues would play a role in their purchases, three points higher than last year. Nearly half (49%) of Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reported that a company’s politics would affect their buying decisions, followed by Generation Z at 48%, and Millennials at 47%.

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Starbucks comes out of holiday starting gate early, debuts cups and beverages

BY Marianne Wilson

Starbucks Corp. is getting a jump on the holidays with cups that are sure to please even the most ardent holiday enthusiast.

The coffee giant’s holiday cups and beverages will be available in stores on Friday, Nov. 2, which is anywhere from seven to 10 days earlier than in past years). Starbucks first debuted its holiday cups in 1997 and, over the years, some of the designs have sparked controversy among critics on the right for not being Christmasy enough.

This year, as in the past, the company debuted four unique cup designs, including one with red holly-like berries, one with green stars, and one with a red stripes. Notably, all designs strike a more traditional note than some of Starbucks’ past holiday cup designs and are unlikely to raise any criticism.

“We listened to our customers,” Roz Brewer, Starbucks’ COO told USA Today. They said they “loved the tradition of Christmas,” she added.

Starbucks is giving customers who order a holiday beverage on Nov. 2 a free, limited-edition reusable red cup, while supplies last. Customers who bring the cup to a participating Starbucks store in the U.S. or Canada after 2 p.m. Nov. 3 through Jan. 7 will get $0.50 off a grande holiday beverage.

In addition to the cups, Starbucks is launching an array of seasonal beverages and food items that range from gingerbread latte and eggnog latte to cranberry bars and snowman cookies.

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Target to get an earlier start this Thanksgiving

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. is kicking off the holiday shopping season by opening its stores a bit earlier on Thanksgiving — and by making some Black Friday deals available early.

The discounter on Thursday announced it will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving (Nov. 22), and close at 1 a.m. It will reopen its doors on Black Friday at 7 a.m. Last year, Target opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. (Macy’s and Kohl’s will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and J.C. Penney will open at 2 p.m., which is in line with what all three retailers did last year.)

Target on Thursday also unveiled its annual Black Friday ad, which includes deals on everything from televisions (with more than 15 under $300) and the Xbox One console to home, apparel and beauty. For those looking to get a jump-start on holiday shopping, the retailer is offering select Black Friday deals across categories in stores and on Target.com today (Nov. 1) only.

In addition, Target is offering a bonus to shoppers who spend $50 in store or online or scan the wallet feature in the Target app in stores on Black Friday (Nov. 23): a coupon for 20% off on a future shopping trip, redeemable from Nov. 27 through Dec. 8. And as it did last year, Target will offer localized store maps in its app that clearly identify where specific Black Friday deals are located within each Target store.

Target also announced that mobile checkout is now available at all its stores nationwide. During peak events like Black Friday, associates will be located in the busiest areas of the store, such as electronics.

“We know many of our guests look forward to our Black Friday deals every year, and today, they can start shopping and save big on some of the hottest items of the season,” says Mark Tritton, executive VP and chief merchandising officer, Target. “Combined with the unmatched easy ways to shop with us — including new mobile technology that allows guests to skip the line for an even more convenient checkout — we’re confident guests will save time and money, and experience the joy of the season by choosing Target.”

Target has already unveiled its overall holiday strategy, which includes a bigger emphasis on toys, and free two-day shipping, with no minimum purchase and no membership requirements.

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