By  on November 16, 2006

If you happen to have done some shopping over the past few weekends, perhaps you noticed the holiday decorations sneaking their way onto the shelves, or the carols beginning to blare over the loudspeakers. Yes, that time of year has arrived once again, and the question is: Where do consumers plan to shop for gifts? In its holiday Gift Tracker survey, Stevens, Pa.-based Unity Marketing asked respondents to select their favorite department and discount store destinations for their gifts this season. Unity Marketing found a holiday shopper is expected to spend $949 on presents this year, up 9.1 percent from the average of $870 spent in 2005. Below, a look at the top dogs of each of the store types, and what they are doing to prepare for the holiday craze.

Department Stores

Percentage of respondents who will likely buy holiday gifts here: 14
Earlier this month, Myron "Mike" Ullman 3rd, chairman and chief executive officer, said the Plano, Tex.-based chain is gearing up for the holiday season with its Red Box Gifts program. "The four major categories are electronics and innovations, cozy at home, jewelry and watches and toys," he said, saying the program is designed to let customers know what gifts are key for the season. Featured items include a women"s red cashmere sweater with ruffled-edge sleeves, a diamond accent circle pendant and iPod cases. In addition, staff wearing red aprons will have a specialized knowledge of each gift idea to help customers with their purchases. The chain is planning to implement a quicker checkout process for the items, as well.

: 11
Last week, Terry Lundgren, chairman and ceo, said in a statement, "We continue to view 2006 as a transition year…notably a transition of more than 400 stores to the Macy"s nameplate. With a new brand structure now fully in place, we look forward to a successful holiday selling season." The Macy"s Herald Square location in New York is showing off its festive spirit with its annual holiday window displays. Macy"s began this tradition in 1862, and this year the windows will allow spectators to participate in the displays by touching special pads that activate animations and other features. And only at Macy"s Herald Square would one find a toy store among its fashion apparel and accessories offerings.

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