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Survey Says: Midline Retailers Win Day

NEW YORK — There were actually some winners in the grueling Christmas season, and generally, they were the midline and power retailers like Kohl’s, J.C. Penney Co., Best Buy and Circuit City.<br><br>That’s according to a telephone...

NEW YORK — There were actually some winners in the grueling Christmas season, and generally, they were the midline and power retailers like Kohl’s, J.C. Penney Co., Best Buy and Circuit City.

This story first appeared in the January 10, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

That’s according to a telephone survey of 1,100 adults conducted by Meridian Inc., a Troy, Mich.-based consulting firm, to retailers on merchandising and communications strategies. From Dec. 22-31, Meridian took a random sample of adults across the nation spending at least $300 on gifts or items for themselves during the last holiday season.

“There has been a significant shift occurring over the last three years from discounters and department stores to midline stores, such as Penney’s and Kohl’s,” said Bob Gordman, president of Meridian Strategic Business Planning.

The survey concludes that selection —having what the consumer wants — is the major factor driving consumer buys.

Of those surveyed, 39 percent said they spent a larger share of their holiday budget with midline and power retailers because they had the right stuff. Another 18 percent said they spent a larger share with this sector because they liked the pricing and value, while 13 percent said they spent more because of convenience getting to the stores.

Eighteen percent of all those surveyed spent more with midline stores like Sears, Penney’s and Kohl’s, though Kohl’s was the biggest winner. Thirteen percent said they spent less.

Also, 15 percent said they spent a larger share of their budget with power retailers — with Toys ‘R’ Us, Best Buy and Circuit City being the biggest winners — while 7 percent said they spent less.

(On Tuesday, however, Circuit City reported overall sales for December fell 5 percent from the same month a year ago.)

On the losing side, 29 percent of those surveyed said they spent less at mass merchants, like Target and Wal-Mart, while 21 percent said they spent more. All merchandise categories lost shares except for holiday decor. Martha Stewart holiday decor did well, despite her own difficulties and the troubles at Kmart, where Martha Stewart goods are sold exclusively.

Also, 14 percent of those surveyed spent less with department stores, while 8 percent said they spent more.

Four percent of those surveyed said they spent more either through the Internet, catalogs or warehouse clubs. Two percent said they spent less with catalogs, while 1 percent said they spent less at warehouse clubs and via the Internet.