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ARG: Economic hardships to influence holiday shopping

BY Dan Berthiaume

CHARLESTON, S.C. — One-third (33%) of U.S. families are making less money as a result of job loss, moving to a part-time job and/or working at a lower-paying job.

In addition, according to three recent consumer surveys from America’s Research Group, 40% of parents are trying to save as much money as they can for their children’s college education, 38% of families did not take a vacation this year of four days or longer, and 44% of parents will do most of their back-to-school apparel shopping in December when the deals are better.

"All these things are going to affect Christmas shopping,” said Britt Beemer, chairman and CEO of ARG. “What is going to happen this year is going to be that families are not going to be able to have anything extra to splurge on and that’s the issue. Last year, 38% of adults did not buy gifts for each other, that number will likely be higher this year.”

The ARG research consisted of three national surveys: one conducted the first weekend in October; a back-to-school shopping survey conducted the second week in July; and the survey conducted the weekend after Labor Day weekend.

 

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Deloitte: Holiday spending up despite gloomy forecasts

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — Despite many forecasts of a gloomy holiday season for retailers, Deloitte is predicting an increase in consumer spending. Deloitte’s 28th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends indicates shoppers surveyed plan to spend an average of $421 on holiday gifts this year, up from $386 last year. They also expect to buy an average of 12.9 gifts, ending a five-year decline in the number of gifts they plan to purchase.

The amount consumers plan to spend on non-gift items for themselves or their families rose 14% from 2012, while spending on home and holiday furnishings jumped 25% from last year. In addition, 54% of consumers believe the economy is on the rebound, an increase of 22 percentage points in the past two years.

The Internet moved into the top spot among holiday shopping destinations for the first time in its 15 years represented in the survey, bumping discount/value department stores from the No. 1 position. Nearly half (47%) of consumers plan to purchase items online, followed by 44% at discount/value stores. More than three-quarters (76%) of consumers cite convenience as a reason for shopping online, followed by price (63%). 

The omnichannel shopper is most likely to make retailers’ spirits bright. Those who shop a combination of store, Internet and mobile channels plan to spend a total of $1,643 on the holidays, 76% higher than those who shop in the store only. Nearly 8-in-10 (77%) consumers say that if a product is not available on a store’s website, they will go elsewhere, while only 13% would go to that same retailer’s store. In addition, 45% of all respondents indicate they would switch to an entirely different store chain or website if they can’t find the desired item in a retailer’s store.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of consumers say their holiday spending will be influenced by coupons or promotional offers.  
  • More than 7-in-10 (71%) say they plan to take advantage of free shipping offers, while nearly half (47%) expect free returns.  More than 4-in-10 (44%) shoppers intend to take retailers up on price-matching guarantees, 36% will shop extended hours and 35% plan to order online for in-store pickup.
  • Retailers also may have good reason to roll out the promotions early this year: The number of consumers who say they expect to complete the majority of their shopping by early November (30%) rose five percentage points from last year.  One-quarter (25%) of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, and 24% plan to do so on Cyber Monday. Forty-five percent indicate that Black Friday isn’t as important as it used to be.

"The survey reveals a brighter consumer spending outlook than we’ve seen in several years," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail and distribution sector leader. "Consumers are feeling more generous about gift spending, and we are encouraged by their plans to spend more on going out for celebrations, decorating their homes and treating themselves and their families to ‘early gifts’ while holiday shopping this year. The government shutdown and debt crisis had the potential to dampen consumer sentiment; however, the settlement likely averted any significant impact on the holiday season. The timely resolution of those issues may also give consumers an extra confidence boost just as promotions start hitting the stores and the shopping season gets underway."

 

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Reports: Sears Holdings may be open to selling Canadian flagship store

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Sears Holdings’ Canadian division may consider selling off its Toronto flagship store if the right buyer comes along, according to published reports.

In the latest sign of trouble for the retailer, Sears Canada CEO Douglas Campbell told the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s largest newspapers, that the company was considering closing more stores, including the one at the Toronto Eaton Centre. Sears Canada’s head office also is located at Eaton Centre. The newspaper reported that Campbell’s predecessor, Calvin McDonald, was reluctant to sell the location because of its symbolic importance, but that Seattle-based Nordstrom was interested in buying the location as it prepares to open its first Canadian store next year.

Sears Holdings, based in Chicago, reported a $194 million loss in its second-quarter 2013 earnings, announced in August, compared with a $132 million loss in second quarter 2012. The Canadian division has been especially hard-hit: While same-store sales at Sears’ U.S. stores declined by 0.8%, Sears Canada experienced a 2.5% decline in comps; Kmart’s comps declined by 2.1%. Nevertheless, online business at Sears.com and Kmart.com increased by 20%, the company said.

 

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