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NRF: Valentine’s Day total spending to hit $17.6 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

WASHINGTON, — Consumers are set to pull out all the stops this Valentine’s Day, with the average person shelling out $126.03, up 8.5% over last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s "2012 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions" survey, conducted by BIGinsight. Total spending is expected to reach $17.6 billion.

Consumers’ “better halves” will shell out the most on their partners, with the average person planning to spend $74.12 on their spouse or significant other, up from $68.98 last year. Additionally, consumers will spend and average of $25.25 on their children, parents or other family members and $6.92 on friends. And don’t forget pets: The average person will spend about $4.52 on their pets.

The survey also found the average male is expected to spend $168.74 on clothing, jewelry, greeting cards and more this year — nearly twice as much as women who are expected to spend an average of $85.76.

In addition to traditional gift ideas, those celebrating the holiday also will put some serious thought into the perfect gift. More than 8-in-10 (18.9%) will buy jewelry, the highest percent in the survey’s history. Total spending on jewelry is expected to reach $4.1 billion, up from $3.5 billion last year.

Additionally, 50.5% all celebrants will buy candy, 36% will buy flowers and 35.6% will treat someone to a nice evening out.

Though discount stores are expected to see the most traffic (37%), one-third of shoppers (33.6%) will head to department stores, up from 30.5% last year. Nearly 19.3% will shop online for gifts this Valentine’s Day. Others will shop at specialty stores (20.2%), floral shop (17.8%), jewelry stores (10.6%) and specialty clothing stores (6.6%).

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Far from child’s play with fevers, parents at a loss

BY Michael Johnsen

Parents and doctors agree: When it comes to a child’s fever, most parents don’t know what to do.

According to two new surveys of parents and pediatricians from Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, more than half of all parents report feeling anxious, fearful or helpless when their child comes down with a fever. In addition, many parents are not managing the fever correctly.

“The pediatricians surveyed consistently hear three questions about fever medications: Which type is best for my child? At what temperature reading should I give medicine? And how do I correctly dose?” said Freda Lewis-Hall, EVP and chief medical officer for Pfizer. “Parents play a dual role when their children are sick. They need to comfort a sick child while being prepared to make informed health choices.”

The “Dose of Reality” survey exposed several areas where parents may be making unintended mistakes in treating their child’s fever. For example, more than half of parents surveyed (54%) wake their child up in the middle of the night just to give them fever medication. However, most pediatricians believe a sleeping child should not be disturbed only to administer fever medication.

And nearly 1-in-4 parents admitted to giving their children an adult over-the-counter fever medication at an estimated lower dose, rather than giving them a medication made for children. This is something that one-third of pediatricians actually reported hearing from patients.

Also, while the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents keep their children home from school or daycare until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours, 52% of parents admit to sending their children back to school or daycare less than 24 hours after their fever passed. The majority of pediatricians (72%) acknowledge hearing that parents send their children back to school or daycare within that 24-hour period.

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Flu season in swing: Vaccine good protection

BY Michael Johnsen

Through the first week of the New Year, incidence of flu was on a slight incline but still relatively low. Only two states, Alabama and Louisiana, reported a measured rise in influenza-like illnesses.

For many seasons, the spread of influenza begins to accelerate in the latter half of January to peak sometime in February/March.

From Oct. 1, 2011, through Jan. 7, 2012, most of the viruses anti­genically characterized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appeared to match up well against the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine — meaning this season’s triumvirate vaccine should serve as good protection — though the CDC noted it was still too early in the season to determine how well the seasonal influenza vaccine strains and circulating strains will match.

High levels of resistance to the adamantanes (amantadine and rimantadine) persist among 2009 influenza A (H1N1) and A (H3N2) viruses — the adamantanes are not effective against influenza B viruses. However, all viruses tested for the 2011-2012 season since Oct. 1, 2011, have been susceptible to the neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir), as were the majority of viruses tested last season, the CDC reported.

However, rare sporadic cases of Tamiflu-resistant flu viruses have been reported worldwide, the CDC cautioned.

To view the flu activity maps, click here.

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