Gift Cards Are Shoppers’ Choice This Holiday Season, Says NRF

nrfThis holiday season, gift card spending is set to top all previous records. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s Gift Card Spending Survey, the average person buying gift cards will spend $172.74, up from $163.16 last year, with total spending expected to reach $31.74 billion. In an October NRF survey, 62 percent of shoppers said they would like to receive a gift card, making gift cards the most requested gift item for eight years in a row.

According to the survey, shoppers will spend more on average per card than they did last year, with total spending on gift cards increasing 83 percent since NRF began tracking consumers’ intentions to buy gift cards as holiday gifts in 2003.

The survey found adults 65 and up will spend the most on gift cards, with young adults between 18 to 24 years old spending the least, and men planning to spend significantly more than women ($180.81 versus $165.09, respectively).

Shoppers noted the ease of buying, the ability to allow recipients to select their own gifts, and sticking to holiday budgets as top reasons for choosing gift cards over traditional gifts. Gift cards for department stores, restaurants, and coffee shops are expected to be top choices this holiday season.

Target’s Holiday Deals Include Toy Discounts Throughout November

Target LogoTarget has extended its Black Friday prices throughout the month of November, with sales culminating on Black Friday weekend.

Throughout the month, Cartwheel—Target’s mobile savings app—is offering 50 percent off a different toy every day. Additionally, from November 23 to 29, Cartwheel will feature more than 100 exclusive deals, including 60 percent off select movie titles and 30 percent off select board games.

On Wednesday, November 26, Target stores and target.com will offer a handful of pre-Black Friday savings to guests. The deals will be available for preview in the store’s weekly ad on November 23.

For guests who want to shop early, Black Friday deals will be available on target.com on Thanksgiving morning. Target stores will then open for Black Friday shoppers at 6 p.m. that night.

The first several hundred guests waiting in line at Target stores across the nation on Thanksgiving evening will receive a Christmas cracker, which will include a Target gift card or coupon. Top Black Friday deals will include: Buy one, get one 50 percent off toys from select top brands, 40 percent off select Lego sets, sales on various game consoles, and more. [Read more...]

The Hess Toy Truck Still Cruising at Age 50

HessToyTruckThis Friday, the newest addition to Hess’ line of toy trucks, the 2014 Hess Toy Truck and Space Cruiser with Scout, goes on sale at participating Hess, Hess Express, and WilcoHess retail stores. The three-in-one toy vehicle, which is also the 50th anniversary Hess truck, can be pre-ordered now at the official Hess Toy Truck site.

The 2014 Hess Toy Truck is a space cruiser with retractable landing gear, flashing lights, and button-activated and motion-activated special effects, riding on top of a flatbed truck. A cargo door on the space trucker opens to reveal the scout, which features folding wings and working lights. The flatbed truck doubles as a launch pad that includes button-activated launch ramp, hydraulic lift, and sound effects and lights. In addition, the chrome detailing on the cab includes an embossed 50 to mark the Hess Toy Truck’s 50th anniversary.

The 2014 Hess Toy Truck and Space Cruiser with Scout is on display as part of the Hess Toy Truck Mobile Museum, which is currently touring the east coast.

Toys “R” Us Offers Holiday Changes to Aid Shoppers

sq-black-friday-made-easyA number of Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will open at 5 p.m. on November 27 for Black Friday sales. Stores will remain open through 11 p.m. on November 28, offering doorbusters and deals on the season’s most sought-after playthings.

Beginning Thanksgiving weekend and continuing through Christmas Eve, Toys “R” Us will introduce a range of in-store and digital services designed to make holiday toy shopping less stressful. Services will include the implementation of Toys “R” Us G.P.S. (Guru for Play Stuff) store specialists, new aisle signage, digital store-specific maps, daily toy shipments, and a dedicated Express Lane at checkout.

G.P.S.’s will offer busy holiday shoppers advice on hot toys, deals, time-saving services, and incentive programs. They will be located at the front of stores beginning on Thanksgiving, and during peak traffic periods on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the remainder of the holiday season. [Read more...]

Macy’s Holiday Arcade to Offer Toys from Build-A-Bear, Madame Alexander, Gund, and More

MacysLogoMacy’s will be introducing the Holiday Arcade, in-store gifting shops offering customers an eclectic assortment of distinctive and playful options for their holiday shopping lists. These shops will launch at six Macy’s locations between late October and mid-November:

The Holiday Arcade at five locations including Macy’s South Coast Plaza, Macy’s Union Square, Macy’s State Street, Macy’s Herald Square, and Macy’s Center City will be home to exclusive Build-A-Bear Workshop shop-in-shops. Visitors will have the opportunity to customize Build-A-Bear stuffed animals, as well as licensed products such as figures from Disney’s Frozen and Marvel’s superheroes. [Read more...]

Wal-Mart’s Initial Holiday Offerings Include Discounts on Disney Frozen, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and More

logo-walmartFor its first round of holiday promotions, Wal-Mart has expanded its digital shelves to include 7 million items, which is one million more than last holiday season. Shortly after midnight PT on November 3, deals typically reserved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday will start on walmart.com, and will include discounts on toys and games, such as the Barbie Dreamhouse and Nintendo 2DS.

The retailer will also offer hundreds of weekly online specials on items that include toys and electronics, with same-day pickup at Wal-Mart stores available while supplies last at no additional charge, and free shipping to customers’ homes available for orders totaling $50 or more.

Wal-Mart has rolled out a new feature within its mobile app: Search My Store, through which customers can search for nearly any item carried in a Wal-Mart store and see that item’s availability, its aisle location, ratings, and reviews. Search My Store is available on Android devices and will expand to iPhones by mid-November. [Read more...]

Retailers Re-Focus Shipping Calendar in Preparation for Surge in Online Shopping, Reports NRF

nrfExpectations are high for a strong omnichannel holiday season, so retailers are preparing their shipping operations to avoid delivery and service hiccups, according to Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Shop.org’s eHoliday survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, indicates that nearly eight in 10 retailers surveyed, or roughly 78.8 percent, will set their standard shipping deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery to expire at least a week before the big day. This compares to 73.7 percent last holiday season. In addition, approximately 21.2 percent will set their standard shipping deadlines to expire on December 19 or later, compared to 26.3 percent last year.

Of the 92.3 percent of retailers polled that plan to offer free standard shipping of some sort this holiday season, 69.1 percent said their guarantee for Christmas delivery will expire on or before December 19. Nearly three quarters of retailers polled last year, or 74.2 percent, had a deadline on the equivalent day; in this case, December 20. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us to Hire 45,000 for Holiday Shopping Season

toysrusToys “R” Us will hire 45,000 seasonal employees at its stores and distribution centers nationwide, more than doubling the company’s workforce as it prepares for the busy holiday shopping months ahead. These seasonal positions will include sales associates, stock crew and omnichannel fulfillment teams, as well as distribution center workers and department managers.

Interviewing for holiday positions at Toys “R” Us stores begins at the end of this month, and new hires start working in early October. Staffing continues to build throughout the holiday season right up to Christmas. Seasonal store employees typically work 16 to 20 hours per week with flexible schedules offered during the week, weeknights, or weekends. Employment opportunities are also available at the company’s distribution centers nationwide, which began hiring in July and will continue through November.

Job seekers can visit www.toysrusinc.com/careers/holiday to apply and learn more about working at Toys “R” Us during the holiday season.

Toy Insider Experts Name Top Holiday Toys in Their Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 Lists

The Toy Insider logoThe Toy Insider has announced its Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 holiday toy lists, giving gift-givers a sneak peek at the must-have traditional and high-tech toys this holiday season. From Doc McStuffins to Elmo, Lego Fusion to LeapTV, each list includes top picks for kids of all ages. Covering a variety of play patterns, including classic toys and high-tech options, the Toy Insider gives parents and gift-givers a head start on finding toys for the holidays.

The Hot 20 and the Top Tech 12 are the kick-off sections of the Toy Insider holiday gift guide, which will appear in the November issue of Woman’s Day magazine, as well as www.toyinsider.com. The guide is broken down by age group (0-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9+) with in-depth descriptions and a unique skill key of developmental needs and interests for each toy.

Toys “R” Us Reveals Plans, Programs for Holiday Season

toysrus

Toys “R” Us unveiled its plans for the upcoming holiday season. The company will launch a new Rewards “R” Us program for its more than 18 million existing Rewards “R” Us members, and those who sign up in-store or online at toysrus.com/myrewards, who are now able to earn more rewards.

The complimentary Rewards “R” Us program enables members to earn one point per dollar spent at Toys “R” Us or Babies “R” Us locations; for every $125 spent, Rewards “R” Us members receive $5 in “R” Us Rewards. Rewards “R” Us members who are also “R” Us credit cardholders earn two points per dollar spent in-store or online at Toys “R” Us or Babies “R” Us—for a total of $10 for every $125 they spend. In addition, they can enjoy special financing and partake in 10 percent off Thursdays at any “R” Us location.

Toys “R” Us will also introduce online layaway, giving customers the ability to create layaway orders at toysrus.com and babiesrus.com, make subsequent payments either in-store or online, and pick up their order at a local store or have it delivered to their home. [Read more...]