ASTRA Sees Growth Continuing for Independent Retailers this Holiday Season

AstraLogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is optimistic about growth in customer traffic and sales for independent businesses during the upcoming holiday season—with hopes of matching or exceeding the 5.3 percent growth posted last year.

According to a consumer survey conducted during the second quarter of this year, six out of ten customers say they go out of their way to shop at small, locally-owned businesses. The U.S. Department of Commerce predicts that over 90 percent of fourth quarter shopping will take place in brick-and-mortar stores.

Advocates for Independent Business (AIB), a coalition of trade associations and other organizations concerned with the success of locally-owned, independent businesses, documents that locally-owned retailers have a far greater impact on their communities than national brands. For every $10 million in customer spending at amazon.com, for example, amazon.com creates 14 jobs. Meanwhile, the same amount spent at local brick-and-mortar stores creates 57 jobs, or 75 percent more. ASTRA is a founding member of AIB.

An infographic for retailers to use in their stores and around their communities to reinforce the value added aspects of shopping locally can be downloaded and printed here.

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.

FedEx and UPS Hiring More Workers to Avoid Holiday Delays

As reported by ABC News, FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) are hiring more workers to avoid the delays that plagued last year’s holiday season.

FedEx plans to hire 50,000 seasonal workers, up from 40,000 last year, while UPS will add up to 95,000 people, up from 85,000. Last year, both companies scrambled to hire more seasonal employees than they had planned.

FedEx also expects to invest $1.2 billion in its ground-shipping network in its current fiscal year, with most of that going to increase capacity and automation. The company said that the improvements have sped up ground delivery by a day or more in more than two-thirds of the U.S. UPS has also invested to boost shipping capacity during the holidays.

Last December, the delivery giants were caught off-guard by bad weather and a surge in last-minute online shopping, leading to an estimated 2 million packages arriving late for the holidays.

About 1.3 million express packages handled by UPS and 618,000 carried by FedEx failed to get delivered on time last Christmas Eve, with UPS and FedEx at fault roughly 30 percent of the time, according to ShipMatrix Inc. In most cases, retailers promised guaranteed express delivery, but didn’t pay the delivery companies for that speedier service.

The retail federation’s online division, Shop.org, predicts that online sales in November and December will rise 8 to 11 percent over last year.

Toys “R” Us to Stay Open for 88 Continuous Hours

With Christmas right around the corner, Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will keep their doors open for 88 consecutive hours of shopping beginning at 6 a.m. on Friday, December 21 through 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, providing last-minute gift-givers with “all the toys, all the time.”

Shoppers will also get values each day leading up to Christmas, as well as the company’s Price Match Guarantee, helping them check off everything on their little one’s wish list and stretch their holiday budgets. [Read more...]

Editor in Chief Shares Hottest Holiday Gifts on Fox

Check out The Toy Book‘s Editor in Chief Jackie Breyer as she shares her picks for hottest holiday gifts for kids on Fox & Friends First.

Holiday Shoppers Believe Black Friday Holds Best Deals, According to PriceGrabber Survey

PriceGrabber has released results from its third winter holiday shopping survey, revealing that 71 percent of consumers believe that retailers offer better deals during Thanksgiving weekend than they do during the rest of the winter holiday shopping season, up from 58 percent last year. Conducted from October 1 to October 24, the survey includes responses from 4,958 U.S. online shopping consumers.

When consumers who indicated that the best deals can be found over the Thanksgiving weekend were asked which days retailers offer the best prices (respondents could select as many choices as they liked), 71 percent said Black Friday (November 23), down from 80 percent last year and 86 percent in 2010, and 41 percent said Cyber Monday (November 26), up from 37 percent last year and 33 percent in 2010.

To view all of PriceGrabber’s 2012 holiday shopping press releases, visit http://www.pricegrabber.com/about.php?about=press.

Toys and Apparel Top Moms’ List of Purchases Influenced by Social Media

Moms love Facebook–but they trust blogs, according to a new study from Child’s Play Communications. Moreover, 92 percent of moms active in social media are buying products as a result of a social media recommendation.

The study, How Moms are Using Social Media RIGHT NOW–and How You Can Make the Most of It, conducted by Child’s Play Communications, was presented for the first time at the eighth annual Marketing to Moms Conference in Chicago, held from October 23 to 24.

Child’s Play reached out to the 1200 moms in its Social Savvy research network–almost all of them regularly active on blogs and social networks–to explore five key questions:

  • What social media platforms do moms currently favor?
  • How has that changed?
  • Why?
  • What social media platforms are impacting purchasing decisions?
  • What products are moms buying as a result of social media recommendations?

Among the study’s findings:

  • Facebook, Twitter, and blogs were the three most popular social media platforms among moms surveyed
  • Pinterest was the platform that most moms (63 percent) tried for the first time this year
  • Instagram topped the list of technologies moms (28 percent) were likely to try next
  • Polyvore and Olioboard were among the new services these early adopters were exploring
  • Moms are spending more time on Facebook than in the past (64 percent of moms) and less time on Twitter (33 percent)
  • Of all social media platforms, blogs impacted moms’ purchasing decisions more than any other (80 percent)
  • Toys were the No. 1 kids’ product purchased by moms as a result of social media recommendations

Child’s Play Communications specializes exclusively in public relations, social media, and word-of-mouth communications for products and services targeted to moms. Based in New York City, the agency has launched an array of proprietary services to engage this influential market through traditional media, online, and in-person, including the award-winning Team Mom, the agency’s own network of mom review-bloggers. For additional information, visit their Web site, blog, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter or Pinterest.

NRF Survey: Shoppers Will Remain Conservative With Holiday Gift Budgets

Consumers are prepared for a holly, jolly holiday season, though it’s evident most will take a conservative approach with their gift-giving budgets. According to NRF’s holiday consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51 on gifts, décor, greeting cards, and more, up slightly from the $740.57 they actually spent last year. NRF is forecasting holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion.

According to the survey, the biggest portion of shoppers’ budget this year will go towards gifts for family members with the average person planning to spend $421.82 on children, parents, aunt, uncles, and others. Additionally, people will spend $75.13 on friends, $23.48 on co-workers, and $28.13 on others, such as pets and community members. Consumers will also spend on food and candy ($100.76), greeting cards ($28.66), and flowers ($19.55.) When it comes to decorations, the average person will spend $51.99, up from $49.15 last year and the most in the survey’s history. Total spending on holiday décor will reach $6.9 billion.

Click here for complete survey data. For more information about NRF, visit www.nrf.com.

New PriceGrabber Survey Serves Up Holiday Shopper Stats

PriceGrabber has released additional results of its first winter holiday shopping survey, revealing that 54 percent of consumers plan to spend $500 or more on gifts this season, slightly higher than last year. Conducted from August 31 to September 12, the survey includes responses from 2,235 U.S. online shopping consumers. Click either photo below to view the full-size infographic.

[Read more...]

Report: More Shoppers, More Money Spent this Black Friday Weekend

According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted over the weekend by BIGresearch, 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the Black Friday weekend, an increase from 195 million shoppers reported last year. The NRF also reports that consumers spent more during the weekend, spending an average of $365.34 per shopper, up from last year’s $343.31. Total spending for the weekend is estimated to be $45 billion.

More Black Friday shoppers hit stores in the early hours of the morning; nearly one-fourth of the day’s shoppers (24 percent) were in stores by 4 a.m. and 9.5 percent of Black Friday shoppers began their shopping at midnight, triple the number in 2009 (3.3 percent). Additionally, the number of Thanksgiving Day shoppers has doubled over the past five years, from 10.3 million in 2005 to 22.3 million in 2010. Online shopping jumped from 28.4 percent last year to 33.6 percent this year.

Among the top type of stores were department stores (52 percent of the weekend’s shoppers this year vs. 49.4 percent last year) and clothing stores  (24.4 percent vs. 22.9 percent). The percentage of people who shopped at discounters declined to 40.3 percent from 43.2 percent last year.