NRF SURVEY: HOLIDAY SALES SET TO GROW

WASHINGTON — Wall Street and economists expect retailers to have a bleak Christmas, but the National Retail Federation thinks the season won’t be so bad.
On Monday, the NRF released results from its 2001 consumer holiday survey and said GAFO sales — general merchandise, apparel, furniture, home furnishings, electronics, appliance, sporting goods, hobby, book, music, office supply, stationery and gift stores — for November and December should increase 2.5 to 3 percent. Consumers plan to spend an average of $940 per household on gifts, decorations, greeting cards, food and candy. The results are from a national telephone survey of 1,000 respondents, conducted for NRF by Market Facts Inc., Oct. 19-21.
“Given the many uncertainties facing the country as we head into the holidays, consumers appear to remain dedicated to celebrating the season as they’ve done before,” NRF president and chief executive officer Tracy Mullin said in a statement. “There may be more enthusiasm from consumers than originally forecast for gift shopping, decorating and browsing for bargains.”
The NRF acknowledged that terrorism and the war in Afghanistan have raised consumer fears about personal and financial security. But the survey indicates “a much more resilient and characteristically expectant mood taking hold,” as Americans start thinking about the holidays.
The survey also shows that four out of five consumers plan to buy gifts and cards for the same number of people or more than last year. Eighteen- to 24-year-olds are most in the holiday mood and more likely to buy gifts for more people.
Also, 57.2 percent of those surveyed said they plan to start holiday shopping in November or in the first two weeks in December, which is consistent with recent years. NRF contended that almost a third of the respondents already started holiday shopping. Males are almost three times more likely than females to start holiday shopping late, with 12.3 percent planning to start in the last two weeks of December.
Gifts that the majority of consumers wanted to receive reflect a focus on “security, connectedness or a joie de vivre,” with clothing and fashion accessories the most requested holiday gifts at 29.7 percent of respondents. Second most was home decor or home-related furnishings, at 10 percent.
Consumer electronics, at 8.3 percent, and books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games, at 8.1 percent, came in third and fourth place, respectively. Jewelry, sporting goods, money-cash, personal care or beauty items, gift cards-gift certificates, and a car, truck or related products rounded out the top-10 most-requested gifts.

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