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.

NRF Forecasts Increase in Holiday Retail Sales

According to a new report by the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday retail sales are expected to increase 2.3 percent this year to $447.1 billion. Last year holiday sales increased 0.4 percent compared to 2008. In 2008, holiday sales declined 3.9 percent compared to 2007. The NRF reports that retailers are expected to focus on inventory control to limit unplanned markdowns. The NRF also expects new channels, such as mobile, to drive sales and provide added service.

July Retail Sales Increase Year-Over-Year for Back-to-School Season

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), as back-to-school sales start, retail industry sales for July (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 3.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Retail industry sales also declined 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month.

July retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from June and increased 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Back-to-school related categories also saw year-over-year gains, according to the NRF. Clothing and accessories stores were up 4.7 percent over last July, but declined 0.7 percent from June. Electronics and appliance stores increased 8.1 percent year-over-year and declined 0.1 percent from last month. Furniture and home furnishing stores increased 0.4 percent from the same period a year ago and declined 0.3 percent from June.

A survey conducted by NRF, released in July, found that the average family of students in grades K-12 would spend $594.24 on back-to-school this year, an increase of 8.3 percent compared to $548.72 last year.

Report: April Retail Sales Increase 4.6 Percent in 2010

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), April retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales for March and April, the typical months for Easter purchases, increased 5.6 percent unadjusted over last year.

April statistics released by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 9.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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Report: Retail Container Traffic to Increase 10 Percent in May

According to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report, released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be up 10 percent in May, and double-digit increases are expected moving into the fall.

In March, the latest month for which actual numbers are available, U.S. ports handled 1.07 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU), a 7-percent increase compared to February, and a 12-percent increase compared to March 2009. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent. March was also the fourth month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement.

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