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Survey says 40 percent of shoppers plan to start holiday gift-shopping before Halloween

BY Jenna Duncan

WASHINGTON The National Retail Federation today released results of its 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, run by BIGresearch, showing that the average American holiday shopper plans to spend more than $800 each on holiday shopping.

The NRF’s survey results showed that 40.2 percent of consumers said that they will begin  holiday shopping before Halloween and survey respondents plan to spend about $832 on average on holiday items. This average reflects only a 1.9 percent increase over last year’s average total: $816.69. It’s the lowest anticipated spending increase NFR launched its survey in 2002.

Forty percent of survey respondents said that sales and/or promotions is the biggest lure to where they will shop, while 12.6 percent said they will seek “everyday low-prices.” Only 5.6 percent said they would choose holiday shopping locations based on convenience and 5.2 said it depends on customer service.

NRF president and chief executive officer, Tracy Mullin, said, “Retailers are going into this holiday season with their eyes wide open, knowing that savings and promotions will be the main incentive for shoppers. No one is canceling Christmas because money is tight, but consumers will be sticking to their budgets and looking for good deals when deciding where to spend this holiday season.”

Survey repondents also said they would spend about $51.43 each on decorations, $32.43 for greeting cards and postage, $95.04 on candy and food and $22.61 on flowers. The Internet has seen steady rates of shoppers: 44.2 percent of the shoppers in the survey said they were buying gifts online, flat from 44.3 last year. NRF has said that it predicts holiday sales to increase 2.2 percent over last year, for a total of $470.4 billion.

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Kroger reports Q3 numbers, reffirms guidance prior to investor conference

BY Jenna Duncan

CINCINNATI Kroger has updated its same-store sales guidance for the third quarter of 2008 and reaffirmed its annual same-store sales and earnings per share guidance from last month the company said.

The reaffirmations came just before a conference call today with investors to discuss the company’s standing.

For the eight weeks ended Aug.17, Kroger’s same-store sales grew by more than 5 percent, not including fuel. The second four weeks were stronger than the first, the company said, attributing weaker results to temporary store closures that happened during Hurricane Ike.

David Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “Kroger continues to see solid identical sales growth through the first eight weeks of the third quarter because of the commitment of associates in all aspects of our business to our customer-driven strategy. In this uncertain economy, we are delivering value to shoppers on any budget through our Customer 1st approach. Our financial strategy provides us with sufficient liquidity to finance our short-term borrowing needs through our $2.5 billion five-year credit facility that matures in November 2011. On peak borrowing days, we expect that more than $1.2 billion of this facility would remain available.  In addition, Kroger maintains uncommitted money market lines totaling $75 million.”

After review of its year-to-date results, and a restatement its goals moving forward, Kroger reaffirmed its expectation of same-store sales growth by 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent, not including fuel, for fiscal 2008. Kroger also reaffirmed its earnings guidance of $1.85 to $1.90 per diluted share for the period (without effects of Hurricane Ike factored in). This projection reflects growth by 9 percent to 12 percent above the earnings of $1.69 per diluted share in 2007, the company said. 

More details on the company’s guidance were included in the Form 8-K the Company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. Kroger will file its full report for the third quarter Dec. 9. 

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Redbox files lawsuit against Universal; new rules impede redbox’s DVD rental business

BY Jenna Duncan

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. Redbox automated DVD rental has filed a lawsuit against against Universal Studios Home Entertainment plus three Universal affiliates in a in Delaware Federal Court Oct. 10, alleging that Universal’s new distribution terms would block redbox from being able to rent out Universal Studios DVD titles for 45 days following public release.

Universal’s new terms also limit how many of its DVD titles each redbox kiosk may stock, and has a condition that redbox can’t sell used Universal DVDs, but must destroy them, redbox complained.

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