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11.17.04 Britt Beemer Pre Holiday Research


CHARLESTON, SC -- America's Research Group predicts U.S. sales will increase 3.2% this holiday season, according to Britt Beemer, president of the market research company.

The 12 Stories of Christmas

1. With no "hot€VbCrLf toy, no "big€VbCrLf electronics item or "must have€VbCrLf apparel item, only 37.3% of consumers are planning to buy something for themselves and most of those plan to spend $50 or less.

2. The average number of people receiving gifts will be 9.87 people and the biggest gift range will be $36-$50 with the average gift at $38.39.

3. The lack of a  "hot€VbCrLf toy is obvious, with 43.1% of respondents saying their children are not asking for anything this Christmas. The top five toys kids are asking for are:
  • Nintendo/Play Station -- 13.0%
  • Barbie -- 9.6%
  • Bicycle -- 9.1%
  • Computer games -- 7.6%
  • Doll babies -- 6.5%

4. Higher gas prices are having a dampening effect. 21.8% of the survey participants say they will spend less due to higher gas prices. Most of those are spending 10%-15% less.

5. Shopping over Thanksgiving weekend will be the lowest in a decade.  Only 30.5% plan to shop on Friday, and even fewer (26.3%)  saying they will shop on either the Saturday or Sunday following Thanksgiving.

6. The top five gifts this Christmas:

  • Toys -- 29.1%
  • Electronics -- 21.1%
  • Jewelry -- 18.6%
  • Perfume/cologne -- 17.6%
  • Children's clothes -- 13.1%

7. The average amount spent by American families will be $884.98. 

8.  23.7% plan to buy on the Internet. Their top five choices are:

  • Books -- 19.5%
  • Computer software -- 16.4%
  • DVDs -- 16.1%
  • Toys -- 16.0%
  • Linens -- 15.5%

9. More than half of the respondents  (56.1%) plan to do most of their shopping from early December to December 20th. Only 2.4% are currently finished and only 13.9% plan to to postpone shopping until the last three or four days.

10. 66% of the survey say they believe retailers will lower their prices before Christmas. 63.3% say they believe 50% off sales are genuine. 20% will wait for those 50% off sales and 96% of those will radically slash their spending if they don't see 50% off at their favorite stores.

11. The popularity of gift cards is still strong with 38% planning to give gift cards this Christmas. This compares to 48% who planned to give gift cards at this time last year.

12. The top 5 toys parents and grandparents are planning to give their children are:

  • Nintendo/Play Station -- 25.5%
  • Barbie -- 22.5%
  • Bicycle -- 19.1%
  • Action figures -- 18.8%
  • Hand-held games -- 16.5%

Other Highlights
1. George Bush's re-election is a positive to 19.1% who will spend more. For those who say they will spend less, George Bush's re-election is seen as positive with only 11%.

2. Only 22% plan to be on vacation either the week before or after Christmas. The week before Christmas will be when most take  their Christmas break.

3. On a positive note,  67.6% of the respondents feel their family is better off this Christmas compared to last year.

4. 32.4% of the survey participants  plan to spend more while 19.8% plan to spend less.

5. Giving Christmas decorations as gifts continues to be strong for 22.3% due to the lack of a "hot item€VbCrLf this Christmas.

6. 53% expect stores to be short-handed this Christmas. 53% of that group say they will avoid  stores where sales help is inadequate and the lines are too long.

Beemer based his prediction on 1,000 consumer telephone calls from Nov. 3 to 5, 2004.

Britt Beemer has accurately predicted the last eight of the last nine Christmases within a half of one percent.


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