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Entries in Holiday Shopping (87)

Friday
Jan042013

Sales at Shopping Centers Boomed in December

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Depending on which figures you go by, the recently-completed holiday shopping season was either pretty good or pretty bad.

Right after Christmas Day, MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse unit reported holiday sales rose a mere 0.7 percent compared to the same period in 2011, representing the slowest growth in spending since 2008, when the U.S. was in the full throes of what has been since termed the “Great Recession.”

Worries about the fiscal cliff and the effects of Hurricane Sandy were blamed for the sluggish sales.

But on Thursday, the International Council of Shopping Centers said that sales at the stores in its group were up an average of 4.5 percent from December 2011.

Two of the ICSC's best performers were high-end retailer Nordstrom and wholesaler Costco.

So factoring in these figures, along with better than expected car sales last month, holiday shoppers might have been a bit more jolly than first believed.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec262012

No Happy Spending for Retailers This Season

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Retailers didn’t have the holiday shopping season they had expected in 2012, according to MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse unit, mostly due to fears of the fiscal cliff and devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

From Oct. 28, when Sandy was bearing down on the Northeast, to Christmas Eve, SpendingPulse reports holiday sales rose a mere 0.7 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

This represents the slowest growth in spending since 2008, when the U.S. was in the full throes of what has been since termed the “Great Recession.”

Customer Growth Partners, a retail consulting firm, confirms this assessment based on its own data from the government, retailers and other researchers.

Retailers depend on this time of year for a quarter of their annual revenues.  The news of slow spending belied an earlier optimism brought on by rising consumer sentiment directly ahead of the holidays.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec242012

Holiday Sales Expectations Lowered

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Unless everyone and their uncle suddenly rush out and spend on Monday like there's no tomorrow, holiday sales will be off considerably from what was predicted earlier in the season.

Chicago-based retail technology company ShopperTrak has said as much by lowering their forecast for holiday sales from a 3.3 percent increase compared to the same period in November and December of 2011, to 2.5 percent.

Much of the lowered prediction has to do with the effects Hurricane Sandy had in the Northeast as well as retailers deeply discounting items early on to generate as much interest in the holiday season as possible.

The particularly lengthy shopping season of 32 days between Black Friday and Christmas also seemed to compel shoppers to hold out longer for possible last-minute bargains.

One encouraging sign this season, according to ShopperTrak, is that retail foot traffic is up 2.8 percent this year compared to 2011 -- the first such increase since 2008, when the Great Recession lowered the boom on shoppers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec242012

Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Tips: What’s Open, What’s Available

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’ve waited until Monday -- Christmas Eve -- to do your Christmas shopping, all is not lost.  There are some stores that will be open well into the evening, and even others that will be open on Christmas Day.

It's important to note, however, that local ordinances may prevent some stores from being open according to the corporate-posted hours, so call before you head out the door to confirm a store is open.

Here are some big retailers that are open Christmas Eve:

  • Target until 9 p.m.
  • Kmart until 10 p.m.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us until 10 p.m.
  • Macy’s until 6 p.m.
  • Walmart until 6 or 8 p.m. (varies by store)

And while malls may not extend hours later on Christmas Eve, many are opening early on Monday to accommodate people who want to shop before work.

If you plan to shop tomorrow -- on Christmas Day -- it’ll be tougher, but it can be done if you’re creative.  Here are some places to try:

Airport Gift Shop

If you’re flying to your Christmas get-together, try the airport gift shop.  They often have lots of gifts, including books and fragrances.  Also, many airports now have electronics vending machines from the likes of Best Buy and other vendors.  You put in your credit card and you can buy anything from headphones to an iPod to a handheld gaming device.

Convenience Store

Many 7-11 and Cumberland Farms convenience stores will be open along with individual independents or smaller chains (this will vary depending on your location and the franchisee -- but many will be open).  They may not be your first choice for gifts, but they offer more than you might expect.

Starbucks


If your loved one loves coffee, you’re in luck.  Many Starbucks will be open on Christmas.  Buy a gift card, mugs, some coffee beans and a CD, and you’ve got a great package.

Trip to the Movies

Movie theaters are open on Christmas Day; in fact many say it’s one of their busiest days of the year.  So swing by to purchase a gift card for the movies and make a fun gift box with some Twizzlers and some popcorn.  It’s a gift a movie buff will truly appreciate.

Pharmacies

Many CVS and Walgreens pharmacies will be open.  A Walgreens spokesperson told ABC News: “On Christmas Day, non-24 hour stores will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.  Pharmacies open in 24-hour stores and select locations; 24-hour stores always open.”

While many CVS stores will be open, you definitely need to call to check.  Their spokesperson told ABC News: “Many stores across the country will be offering extended store hours for the holidays, or are open 24 hours.  To locate a nearby CVS/pharmacy or for specific questions about store hours near you, visit the CVS.com Store Locator (CVS.com/storefinder) for the phone number of your local store.”

These pharmacies are great for last-minute gifts.  From toys to home and beauty products, books, Crock Pots and As Seen on TV items, they offer a broad selection of gifts.  Also many have photo centers where you can print photos directly from your phone or Facebook page.  Buy a frame in-store and some wrapping paper and you look like you’ve been planning a thoughtful gift all year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Deals

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you’ve left your Christmas shopping until the last minute, you may not find a mall parking spot this weekend, but you will find some great deals.

Retailers are ready to slash prices, with across-the-board discounts on clothing, toys and appliances. They have also extended hours to make sure procrastinators get all their shopping done in time for Christmas Day.

Here are some of the deals:

Clothes

  • Aeropostale: 60% off everything.
  • American Eagle: 40% off everything.
  • Banana Republic: 40% off everything.
  • Kmart: 50% off all pajamas and robes.

Toys

  • Toys ‘R’ Us: For video games, buy one, get one 30% off.

For the Home

  • Sears is offering one of its most popular tool sets at a $90 discount.
  • Lowe’s has 20% off vacuums and small appliances, including the KitchenAid mixer.

Bundling Specials

  • Target: Get a single-serve coffee maker for $149 bundled with a $30 gift card from Target.
  • Target: Get a Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight for $119 with a $20 Target gift card.

Electronics

  • Walmart has the best deals on Apple products this weekend.  Get the iPad 3 for $399 and get a $30 gift card.  Walmart also has the iPhone 5 for $75 off.

Shopping Hours

  • Macy’s: Some Macy’s stores will be open around the clock starting 7 a.m. Friday right up until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us: Most of the retailer’s stores will open from 6 a.m. Friday until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec202012

Christmas Shopping: How to Get Free Last-Minute Shipping Deals

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The cut-off for free shipping on most online sites was Tuesday, Dec. 18.  But there's still some ways you can finagle free rush shipping on last minute holiday gifts to make sure they arrive before Christmas Day.

Some of the biggest online retailers are still offering free last-minute shipping:

  • Barnes & Noble: Free shipping on Nook HD through Dec. 22.
  • MacMall: Free two-day shipping on orders over $299 and under 25 lbs. through 6 p.m. PST Dec. 22.
  • Macy’s: Free shipping on orders over $99; order needs to be placed  by 11:59 p.m. EST Dec. 20.
  • Overstock.com: Free shipping through the end of the month, but must place order by Dec. 22 to receive by Christmas.
  • Newegg: Free two-day shipping on over 200 items.
  • Target: Free shipping on Daily Deals.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Free shipping on orders over $100 using code “SHIP12.”  Order by 5 p.m. EST on Dec. 20.
  • Zappos: Free shipping for all items with guaranteed Christmas delivery if ordered by 11:59 p.m. PST Dec. 22.

And the biggest online retailer, Amazon, has a limited set of items available for free expedited shipping.  The items include jewelry, watches, clothing, video games, laptops, headphones and kitchen items.  But if you need something that’s not on this limited list, consider Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription service.  In exchange for a $79 fee, you get free two-day shipping all year long.  And yes, that also applies at Christmas (must order by 3 p.m. EST Dec. 22 to receive on time).  You can try the service free for six months.

If you have a family member who already belongs to Prime, they can nominate up to four people for the same free shipping benefits.  Prime members nominate someone by going to their account, clicking “settings” and “manage Prime membership.”

Also, Amazon Student is a free six-month membership to Prime with all the benefits, providing you have an email address that ends in .edu.

But you don’t have to limit yourself to Amazon.  Shoprunner.com also offers free two-day shipping, though the membership service costs $8.95 a month.  The site has tons of participating online retailers like ToysRUs, Sports Authority, Claire’s, PetSmart and EMS.

Finally, the best last-minute option for many is to ship to store.  You peruse all the options from home, pay online and then pick up your selection at your local store.  Tons of big retailers offer this service, and it guarantees your item will be in stock and waiting for you at customer service.

Major retailers offering free Ship to Store include:

  • Best Buy
  • Target
  • Toys R Us
  • Walmart
  • Sears

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec122012

New Citi Service Lets Cardholders Cash In on New Prices

(Martin Poole/Photodisc/Thinkstock)(NEW YORK) -- Citi credit card users will now be able to avoid a shopper’s greatest fear: bad timing.

“Price Rewind,” a new service by Citi, protects customers who buy an item just before its price drops -- by sending them a check to make up the difference.

If you buy $750 worth of holiday gifts -- the amount the National Retail Federation says the average shopper will spend this year -- and pay with your Citi card, you can register the purchases on Citi's Price Rewind site. After that, for 30 days, Citi will scour hundreds of websites looking for a lower price on your item. If it finds one, it will refund you the difference up to $250.

The giant credit card company is shrewdly kicking off this service during the hot-and-heavy holiday shopping season, but says it's here to stay and will be available year-round.

"We've found a lower price for one-out-of-four registered purchases over $100," said Ralph Andretta of Citi. "During the holiday season when the clock is ticking on getting popular gifts and toys, our customers can make their purchases...with more confidence."

Under the new plan, an item’s price must drop $25 to qualify for repayment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Citi credit card users will now be able to avoid a shopper’s greatest fear: bad timing.

“Price Rewind,” a new service by Citi, protects customers who buy an item just before its price drops -- by sending them a check to make up the difference.

If you’re buying $750 worth of holiday gifts --the amount the National Retail Federation says we're all supposed to spend this year-- and pay with your Citi card, you can register the purchases on Citi's Price Rewind site. After that, for 30 days, Citi will scour hundreds of websites looking for a lower price on your item. If it finds one, it will refund you the difference up to $250.

The giant credit card company is shrewdly kicking off this service during the hot-and-heavy holiday shopping season, but says it's here to stay and will be available year-round.

"We've found a lower price for one-out-of-four registered purchases over $100," said Ralph Andretta of Citi. "During the holiday season when the clock is ticking on getting popular gifts and toys, our customers can make their purchases...with more confidence."

Under the new plan, an item’s price must drop $25 to qualify for repayment.

Friday
Dec072012

Retailers Feeling Pressure for Longer Store Hours, as Macy's Announces 48-Hour Openings

Bloomberg News Photo by Diane Bondareff(NEW YORK) -- Macy's announced most of its stores will be open continuously in the 48 hours leading up to Christmas Eve, some 65 hours straight, putting pressure on other retailers to expand their own hours or promotions.

Most Macy's Inc. stores across the country will be open two days straight, beginning on Friday, Dec. 21 at 7 a.m. through Sunday, Dec. 23 at 7 a.m. for its last "One Day Sale" of the season.

While its "One Day Sale" concludes on Sunday, Dec. 23 at 7 a.m., many stores will remain open until midnight that night, so they will be open for 65 hours consecutively, a spokeswoman said.

Whether other companies will follow suit is yet to be seen, said Jennifer Black, president of Jennifer Black & Associates, a research company focusing on the retail and apparel manufacturing industries. While many retail companies offer extended hours starting from the day after Thanksgiving on Black Friday through December, few make the jump to a full 24-hour period.

"I think it does put pressure as far as hours on other retailers," she said.

In addition, 34 Macy's locations will remain open until 2 a.m. and 23 locations will be open until the close of business on Christmas Eve.

The company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, said it is expanding its annual holiday shopping hours for last-minute shoppers in search of deals for gifts.

The retailer said it began keeping its doors open 24 hours with Macy's Queens Center in New York in 2006. Eventually, 14 locations were open 24 hours leading up to Christmas.

Some retail workers have voiced opposition to other stores' longer holiday hours. As stores opened earlier this year on Thanksgiving to get ahead of retail competition on Black Friday, one family member of a Target employee started a petition asking the company to refrain from opening its store on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.

While Black Friday has traditionally kicked off the holiday shopping season, retailers began offering promotions in the week leading up to it online and in-stores, followed by Cyber Week deals the following week.

Most of Wal-Mart's 4,000 stores are open 24 hours a day. Apple's only 24-hour retail store is on New York City's famed shopping street, Fifth Avenue.

Black said the extended hours would be a win for shoppers who value convenience and are buying holiday gifts for others. Macy's declined to share sales figures from stores that have been opened for 24 hours.

A spokeswoman for Macy's said it would be difficult to give historical perspective on store sales because 24-hour shopping has been in a limited number of stores in previous years.

Black said it is likely the past extended hours have paid off, if the company is expanding the system to other stores.

"In Macy's case, we don't know the numbers, but I would think it could affect the bottom line, and at the same time, could also make them the retailer of choice," she said.

But who is likely to go shopping in the wee hours of the night? Macy's said traffic may be lighter between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Black said during Black Friday, many young shoppers take advantage of early openings.

"It gives them a place to go and an excuse to go to the mall, especially if you don't have a car," she said.

But Black says any retailer would have to distinguish themselves with not just extended store hours, but great deals.

When it announced its extended hours on Thursday, Macy's also highlighted a "short list" of gifts under $100, $50 and $25, beginning on Dec. 13. Those include a Keurig Mini Plus coffee maker for under $100, gold-plated and silver-plated pendants with crystals in letter initials for under $50 and Polaroid headphones for under $25.

"If you're open 24 hours and you don't have good deals, you would have to be really desperate to go," Black said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec052012

Kids Will Do Almost Anything for Holiday Toys

Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Children are apparently willing to work hard and do almost anything -- including cleaning their rooms -- to get the toys they want for Christmas.

According to Walmart’s Talking Holiday Toys Survey, 68 percent of kids say they would clean their rooms every day for an entire year to get their most desirable toys.  Eighty-four percent say they would work hard and give up playtime.  

But even kids have limits.  Just 23 percent of the kids surveyed would eat spinach for a year to get their holiday toys.

The survey also found:

  • 78 percent of parents plan to buy the same amount of toys for their children regardless of how naughty or nice they’ve been throughout the year.
  • The top toy gifts parents want to give their kids this Christmas are “toys that teach.”  The top toys on kids’ wish lists are dolls and action figures.
  • Many parents are apparently in the dark when it comes to knowing whether or not their kids find their gifts ahead of the big day.  Twenty-three percent of kids say they have found their gifts before Christmas.  Just 14 percent of parents say their kids have uncovered their hidden gifts.  The top hiding place in a home is a closet.
  • Persistence works.  When asked about the most persuasive technique their kid uses to get the toy he/she wants for Christmas, the top response for parents is their child asks them repeatedly for the gift.  Kids agree.  Their most popular method for ensuring they get the gift they want is to keep telling Mom or Dad over and over again.

Walmart’s Talking Holiday Toys Survey was conducted by GFK Public Affairs and involved 1,009 children between the ages of 3 and 11 and their parents.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec042012

Holiday Gifts: Building Sets for Girls Take Off

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One of the hot holiday trends for toys this year is construction sets for girls.

Lego Friends, for example, is a line of pastel construction toys and it’s been a hit so far.

“We were very skeptical to begin with,” says Stephanie Oppenheim of the ratings and testing site, toyportfolio.com.  Most building sets for girls involve shopping malls or beauty shops, but this line is different, she says.

“What it did was wonderful: it had girls interested in building,” Oppenheim says. 

Meanwhile, for the first time in its history, Mattel has introduced a Barbie line of construction sets.

“That underscores a huge shift in the marketplace,” declares Tuesday’s New York Times.  “Fathers are doing more of the family shopping just as girls are being encouraged more than ever by hyper vigilant parents to play with toys (as boys already do) that develop math and science skills early on.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio