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.

NRF Finds More Gift-Givers are Giving Gift Cards

NRF LogoAccording to NRF’s Gift Card Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, holiday shoppers are opting to give gift cards. They may be small, but they’re a fool-proof option for gift givers buying for friends and family members.

The survey also revealed that people prefer receiving gift cards, and that consumers are spending more on them. The go-to gift cards that people are giving include ones to stores, restaurants, coffee houses, and gas stations.

Letting the recipient choose his or her own gift is a trend that more and more people feel comfortable with; however, there are still some people who believe that gift cards are too impersonal.

NRF Report Finds No Retailer Immune to Organized Retail Crime

Retailers are reporting organized retail crime (ORC) has become more troublesome than ever before. Of the 125 retail companies surveyed for the National Retail Federation’s (NRF’s) eighth annual ORC Survey, 96 percent say their company has been the victim of organized retail crime in the past year, up from 94.5 percent last year.

“What this tells us is that as retailers and law enforcement become more aware of and more proactive in pursuing organized retail crime gangs, criminals have become more desperate and brazen in their efforts, stopping at nothing to get their hands on large quantities of merchandise,” said NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention, Rich Mellor.

Cargo theft continues to grow at an alarming rate, posing huge problems for retailers and their distribution centers. On average, 52.1 percent of companies say they have been a victim of cargo theft in the past 12 months. A significantly higher percent of companies this year said cargo theft occurs mostly en route from the distribution center to the store (68.1 percent vs. 57.4 percent last year), while 43.5 percent say these incidents also occur en route from manufacturer to distribution center.

When asked what new trends exist in organized retail crime, retailers cited familiar issues involving the economy, returned stolen merchandise, gift card fraud, and increases in violent activity upon apprehension. However, new to the list of trends this year were specific references to digital receipt fraud, increased smash and grab incidents, and collusion with street gangs.

“Though retailers continue to make great strides in their fight against organized retail crime, sophisticated criminals with unending opportunities and anonymous outlets to sell their stolen merchandise are proving to be quite challenging for both retailers and law enforcement agencies working to combat this issue,” said NRF Senior Asset Protection Advisor Joe LaRocca “With the types of organized retail crimes changing in severity and scope every day, and cargo theft and violent instances becoming more troubling, retailers are constantly on high alert.”

Despite the increase in incidents, more companies this year believe law enforcement is aware of and understands the severity and complexity of the issue (40.0% vs. 32.3% in 2011). More than half say top management at their company is aware of the problems associated with organized retail crime. NRF strongly believes that organized retail crime must be addressed through Federal legislation by amending the Federal Criminal Code to effectively address the organized and serious nature of this issue, properly defining it as a federal crime with appropriate sentencing guidelines, and providing Federal law enforcement the resources needed to combat this crime.

This post was originally written by Leah Rocketto and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

“This is Retail” Video Contest Launches for Retailers

As part of its “Retail Means Jobs” campaign, an initiative by the National Retail Federation (NRF) that aims to raise awareness of the retail industry’s economic impact, NRF has launched the “This is Retail” video contest. “We’re on a hunt to find the best retail stories in America—from marketing geniuses to customer service superstars to small business owners,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a press release.

To participate, retail employees or business owners submit a two-minute video that shares their retail story for a chance to win up to $25,000. NRF will accept video submissions from March 5-16. A panel of retail executives will narrow the videos down to the top 20, and finalists will be prominently featured on RetailMeansJobs.com. The winners will be chosen based on votes, and announced during NRF’s Washington Leadership Conference in May. For more information, visit www.retailmeansjobs.com/contest.

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Report: Six in 10 Holiday Shoppers Plan to Buy Non-Gifts for Themselves

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has released its 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, and the report predicts a slight decrease in the average amount each shopper will spend this holiday season. According to the survey, shoppers say they plan to shell out an average of $704.18 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise, down slightly from last year’s $718.98. NRF still forecasts overall holiday retail sales to grow 2.8 percent during November and December to $465.6 billion.

Holiday shoppers also plan to take advantage of sales and discounts to purchase goods for themselves. Nearly six in 10 holiday shoppers (59.9 percent) say they plan to purchase additional non-gifts for themselves and their families during the holiday season. The largest portion of a consumer’s holiday budget will go to family members, with the average person spending $403.26 on kids, parents, and other family members. Additionally, an average of $68.23 will be spent on friends, followed by $21.06 on co-workers, and $23.39 on other gifts. Consumers will also spend on decorations ($46.73), greeting cards ($26.52), candy and food ($96.75), and flowers ($18.23.) Gift cards will be popular with consumers again this year, with 57.7 percent of shoppers saying they’d like to receive a gift card this holiday season.

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NRF Forecasts an Average Holiday Season

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is expecting this year’s holiday season to be just average. Although last year’s holiday season outperformed most analysts’ expectations, NRF expects 2011 holiday retail sales to increase 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion, close to the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 2.6 percent. Last year, retailers experienced a 5.2 percent increase.

For the first time this year, NRF used its holiday forecasting model to create a projection for seasonal hiring in retail. According to NRF, retailers are expected to hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, which is comparable to the 495,000 seasonal employees they hired last year.

NRF: Seven in 10 Americans to Celebrate Halloween This Year

More people than ever are expected to partake in traditional Halloween festivities, according to a new survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Results from NRF’s “2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey,” conducted by BIGresearch, show that seven in 10 Americans (68.6 percent) plan to celebrate Halloween this year, up from 63.8 percent last year—the most in NRF’s 10-year survey history.

According to the report, those celebrating are expected to spend slightly more, too; the average person will spend $72.31 on decorations, costumes, and candy, up from $66.28 last year. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion.

More people plan to dress in costume (43.9 percent vs. 40.1 percent last year), throw or attend a party (34.3 percent vs. 33.3 percent last year), and visit a haunted house (22.9 percent vs. 20.8 percent last year). Additionally, half of respondents (49.5 percent) said they will decorate their home/yard, and 14.7 percent will dress their pets in costume. Other traditional activities include handing out candy (73.5 percent), carving a pumpkin (47.8 percent), and taking children trick-or-treating (32.9 percent).

Although spending is expected to increase, nearly one-third of respondents (32.1 percent) said the state of the U.S. economy will impact their Halloween plans. To compensate, most say they will try to spend less overall (87.1 percent). Others will make a costume instead of purchasing one (18.9 percent), use last year’s costume (16.6 percent), or buy less candy (40.2 percent).

Retail Sales Climb; Fastest Rate in Four Months

Improvements in the U.S. economy bolstered retailers’ February sales, reflecting improved consumer sentiment as it relates to spending. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for February 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from January and 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“Retailers have done a commendable job keeping their inventory levels where they need to be, while still offering attractive promotions for those who are eager to spend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “The big challenge retailers will face in the coming months, however, will be going head to head with high cotton, food, and energy prices.”

“February retail sales are in sync with evidence of the expanding economy,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While February is typically a slow month for retailers, consumers showed their spending power, though it’s too soon to tell what type of impact the spike in gasoline prices will have on consumers this spring.”

February retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 1 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 9.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Solid growth in discretionary spending was seen across the board.

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.

Holiday Spending Expected to Rise Slightly This Year

According to another NRF survey, 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions, U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related shopping, a slight rise from last year’s $681.83. More than 60 percent of shoppers said the economy would impact their spending, down from last year’s 65.3 percent, but shoppers plan to compensate by spending less (81.5 percent), comparison shopping online (30.9 percent), shopping for sales (54.1 percent), and using more coupons (40.6 percent). The most important factors when shopping this holiday season, said survey respondents, were sales and discounts (41.8 percent).

As in years past, most holiday gift-givers will spend most of their budget on gifts for family ($393.55), followed by friends ($71.45), and co-workers ($18.26). Total spending on gifts ($518.08) is expected to increase 2.1 percent from last year. Other holiday purchases will include decorations ($41.51), greeting cards and postage ($26.10), candy and food ($86.32), and flowers ($16.86).

For more results, click here. This survey was conducted by BIGresearch.