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NRF Reports Back-to-School Shoppers Still Wrapping Up Shopping Lists, Leaning More on Coupons

nrfAccording to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) latest Back-to-School/College Surveys, the average family with children in grades K to 12 completed 49.9 percent of its shopping by mid-August, down slightly from last year’s 52.1 percent.

As of August 12, fewer families had stepped out to take advantage of retailers’ special school savings opportunities; specifically, 23.6 percent had not started shopping yet, up from 20.9 percent last year. However, some were eager to get started: 15.7 percent said they have completed their lists, which is roughly the same as last year.

Meanwhile, college families got a jump on retailers’ sales and promotions this summer, with 23.4 percent stating that they completely finished with their lists, up from 20 percent last year. Slightly fewer families this year say they haven’t started shopping, at 26.2 percent versus 28.8 percent last year. [Read more...]

Record Imports Expected as West Coast Port Talks Continue

nrfImport volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to hit an all-time record in August as retailers concerned about the lack of a West Coast longshoremen’s contract rush to bring holiday season merchandise into the country, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report is expected to total 1.54 million containers this month, which is the highest monthly volume since NRF began tracking import volume in 2000. It tops a previous record of 1.53 million set in July, as well as unusually high numbers seen this spring as retailers began importing merchandise early in anticipation of this summer’s contract talks.

The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired on July 1. Dockworkers remain on the job as both sides continue to negotiate a new agreement.

NRF Finds Back to School Spending Is Up, Driven by Demand for Electronics and Supplies

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2014 Back-to-School Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics. This is up 5 percent from a total spend of $634.78 last year, driven by increased demand for electronic items, as well as parents’ need to restock their children’s school supplies.

NRF broke down spending by grade, and according to the survey, the average family shopping for high school students will spend $682.99, while spending on middle school/junior high comes in a close second at $682.13. Parents with elementary school-age children will spend an average of $580.94. [Read more...]

NRF Revises Annual Economic Forecast to Expect Stronger Second Half of Year

The National Retail Federation has lowered its retail sales forecast for the rest of the year. Originally, slow growth was recorded during the first half of the year, but growth is expected to be significantly faster over the next five months. NRF forecasted in January that retail sales would grow 4.1 percent this year over 2013, but has since revised that number to 3.6 percent.

NRF calculated that sales grew 2.9 percent during the first half of the year and are expected to grow at least 3.9 percent during the second half. The numbers include general retail sales and non-store sales, and exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. This winter’s severe weather contributed to the slow growth during the first quarter, but a second look at the forecast is positive, expecting growth to increase, manufacturing to expand, and the employment rate to remain its strongest since 2005.

West Coast Ports Negotiations Resume as Cargo Shifts East

The shipping news journal Lloyd’s List reports that the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have resumed contract negotiations following a three-day hiatus last week. In the meantime, retailers are bringing holiday merchandise into the country at record levels to protect against potential supply chain disruptions, according to the Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to total 1.5 million containers this month, the highest monthly volume in at least five years. This follows a trend of unusually high import levels that began this spring as retailers worked to import merchandise ahead of potential problems.

The contract between the PMA and the ILWU expired on July 1. Dockworkers remain on the job as both sides continue to negotiate a new agreement. [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Weekend Spending According to the NRF

logoAccording to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American shoppers took advantage of tons of Thanksgiving weekend deals. More than 141 million unique shoppers have shopped through the end of Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million over the same time frame last year.

Between all of the low prices and aggressive discounts, holiday shoppers have started earlier than ever this year, spending $407.02 on average, from Thursday through Sunday. More than 75 percent of shoppers tended to be young people between the ages of 18 and 34.

Although a lot of shopping was done in store, 40 percent of people indicated that they shopped online over the weekend (approximately 59 million shoppers). Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular as retailers tout special holiday savings through their mobile apps and web sites. Clothes, electronics, and books, DVDs, and video games were among popular items purchased over the weekend.

Survey Shows Children Want Game Systems, iPads for Holidays

Non-traditional items are finding their way onto children’s wish lists this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. For the first time, iPads are among the most popular gifts for both girls and boys, with slightly higher demand among the former.

Among the other results from NRF’s 2013 Top Toys survey: 44.3 percent of holiday consumers plan to buy toys as gifts this holiday season; children are still asking for timeless items such as Barbie and dolls (No. 1 and 2 among girls, respectively) or Lego and toy cars (No. 1 and 3 among boys, respectively). And the younger generation is clearly technologically savvy, asking this year for tablets/iPads, smartphones (girls’ No. 11), and game consoles like Xbox One (boys’ No. 5) and PlayStation 4 (girls’ No. 10, boys’ No. 6).

Other popular toys for girls include Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, and American Girl. The hot new item for boys this year is Skylanders, a hugely popular interactive video game that allows kids to play with a toy action figure at the same time. [Read more...]

Shoppers Share Feelings About Return Policies, Fraud

According to a survey Tada commissioned of more than 7,000 online shoppers, 59 percent claim they’ve never been denied on a return while 38 percent of respondents claim they are. These shoppers double-check the policy to ensure that not only is there ample time for returns, but that there’s free shipping both ways as well.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) conducted a survey in 2012 to determine how much return fraud is costing stores: $2.9 billion last holiday season alone. A panel of shoppers claim that they very rarely, if ever, take advantage of an overly generous return policy (90 percent would not do this). Meanwhile, 92 percent say they’ve never committed wardrobing, which is buying something with the intent to use or wear it and return it. Generation Y is the most guilty of this, as 7 percent admit to doing this with clothing and 4 percent with electronics and other items.

These shoppers were also polled to find out who ranks as having the best and worst return policies. Some retailers ended up on both lists. Tada came up with their own list of the stores with the best return policies.

Easter Bunny Keeps Frugality in Mind This Year, According to NRF

Americans will celebrate Easter in style and on budget this year according to NRF’s Easter Spending Survey, conducted by BIGinsight. Keeping cost and their shopping list in mind, the average person celebrating Easter will spend approximately $145.13 on candy, decor, apparel, and food, flat with last year’s $145.28. Total spending will reach an estimated $17.2 billion.

Consumers will spend an average of $20.82 on gifts.

“While many of today’s consumers are coping with tight budgets, the Easter Bunny isn’t headed toward retirement in 2013,” says BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Look for cost-conscious parents to scope the sale racks, head to discounters, and clip coupons to keep spending on track and to make the holiday special for youngsters this year.”

Santa to Bring High-Tech Gadgets, Familiar Favorites to Children This Holiday Season

Children’s wish lists this holiday season are full of the latest gadgets such as Apple iPads and the Nintendo Wii U, but there’s still demand for some classic gifts like Lego blocks, dolls, and toy cars, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s 2012 Top Toys Survey, conducted by BIGinsight.

A surprise item in this year’s top ten is Furby, which ranked No. 3 on girls’ wish lists and No. 9 on boys’ lists. Furby became a must-have item and child favorite in the late 90s but has since undergone a digital makeover complete with LCD eyes and compatible iPad apps. Video games also appeared on both lists this year. According to NRF’s holiday survey, 45.1 percent of consumers plan to buy toys this holiday season.