Northeast Times

’Tis the season for spending

Re­tail­ers hop­ing for a little more ka-ching in this year’s Christ­mas shop­ping sea­son have been get­ting some good news. Con­sumers are ex­pec­ted to spend a little more than they did last year, but only a little bit more.

And many of them won’t leave their homes to do it, ac­cord­ing to the 26th an­nu­al De­loitte Hol­i­day Sur­vey.

The In­ter­net has be­come the spot to shop. De­loitte LLP, an in­ter­na­tion­al fin­an­cial ser­vice and audit­ing com­pany, polled 5,019 con­sumers and found 48 per­cent of them will buy their gifts in the Great Blue Nowhere rather than brick-and-mor­tar busi­nesses. That 13-per­cent in­crease over last year’s on­line hol­i­day shop­ping stats ties the Web with dis­count stores for the No. 1 Hol­i­day Shop­ping Des­tin­a­tion title.

Di­git­al shop­ping was found to be pop­u­lar with every age group. That means, said Al­is­on Paul, De­loitte’s vice chair­man, stores must have Web-site strategies “con­sist­ent with the in-store ex­per­i­ence, re­gard­less of the demo­graph­ic they serve.”

So, lots of brick-and-mor­tar re­tail­ers will try to pull shop­pers to their stores by ap­peal­ing to those who Web browse. So­cial me­dia sites will be used by 44 per­cent of con­sumers while shop­ping, De­loitte re­por­ted.

That doesn’t mean the stores we can see and touch won’t be try­ing to get shop­pers at their cash re­gisters wheth­er they use their com­puters or smart phones or not.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL

Lots of deals and early Black Fri­day open­ings are be­ing ad­vert­ised by re­tail­ers who want their share of the $873 bil­lion to $877 bil­lion De­loitte has pro­jec­ted shop­pers will spend through Janu­ary.

Those num­bers rep­res­ent an in­crease of 2.5 to 3 per­cent over the bucks they shelled out last year, which is smal­ler than the 5.9-per­cent gain re­tail­ers saw in 2010 com­pared to their 2009 hol­i­day haul.

Al­though the U.S. Com­merce De­part­ment has re­por­ted con­sumer spend­ing has been rising, shop­pers told De­loitte they want good deals. Al­most 40 per­cent said they ex­pect the eco­nomy to get worse and 65 per­cent be­lieve prices are high­er than they were last year.

“Des­pite some re­lief from en­ergy prices, con­sumers may feel the strain from food, ap­par­el and oth­er cat­egor­ies where prices are markedly high­er com­pared to the pre­vi­ous hol­i­day sea­son,” said De­loitte’s chief eco­nom­ist, Carl Steidtmann.

Forty-two per­cent of the sur­vey re­spond­ents said they will curb their hol­i­day spend­ing this year be­cause of house­hold ex­penses or high en­ergy costs. Fifty-eight per­cent, however, ex­pect to spend the same or more this year.

Keep­ing to what has be­come a four-year de­clin­ing trend, each shop­per is ex­pec­ted to buy 14.7 hol­i­day gifts this year. Last year, they each bought 16.8, down from 2009’s 18.2.

Sur­vey re­spond­ents who are in house­holds that earn $100,000 or more a year ex­pect to pay $812 on gifts. Those from house­holds who earn un­der $100,000, however, are ex­pec­ted to cut their spend­ing this year by 26 per­cent and pay $291 for their gifts.

An­oth­er 2011 wrinkle is that the gift card is no longer the No. 1 Christ­mas present. Al­though 45 per­cent said they would give out gift cards, which is more than last year’s 44 per­cent, 48 per­cent of the sur­vey re­spond­ents said they would give cloth­ing. Cash also slipped. Only a quarter of the re­spond­ents said they’d hand out dol­lars. That’s down 7 per­cent from last year.

the Early bird catches the deal

Re­tail­ers are of­fer­ing big deals to bring in big crowds early.

Kmart not only is go­ing to open early on Black Fri­day (5 a.m.), in some cit­ies, the dis­counter will be open on Thanks­giv­ing (6 a.m. to 9 p.m.), too. That’s not new. Kmart has been open­ing on Thanks­giv­ing for 20 years.

The store is of­fer­ing lots of dis­counts and spe­cials on Thanks­giv­ing and Black Fri­day. And, like many re­tail­ers big and small, Kmart is ex­tend­ing its hours, too.

To get its share of the shop­pers who use the In­ter­net to learn about spe­cials, Kmart is put­ting its cir­cu­lars for fu­ture weeks on­line at kmartlocalad.com.

Frank­lin Mills will open at mid­night on Black Fri­day and will stay open un­til 10 p.m. Many stores at the mall are of­fer­ing dis­counts of 20 to 30 per­cent through what man­agers are call­ing the Hol­i­day Su­per Sales Week­end, Nov. 25 to 27.

Shop­pers can vis­it www.frank­lin­mills.com for hol­i­day shop­ping hours, re­tail­er giveaways and gift-with-pur­chase of­fers.

“We are very fo­cused on giv­ing shop­pers ex­actly what they want, which we see as the more factor ap­proach to shop­ping — more time to shop, more great brands for less and more im­me­di­ate no­ti­fic­a­tion of spe­cial of­fers,” said Donna Daniel­son, dir­ect­or of mar­ket­ing and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Frank­lin Mills.

Those im­me­di­ate bar­gain no­ti­fic­a­tions will come in the form of reg­u­lar posts on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Al­though Black Fri­day is the day of the big push to bring in rev­en­ue, some re­tail­ers won’t see sales rise dra­mat­ic­ally right away.

Jeff Be­lag­gio, own­er of Be­lag­gio Jew­el­ers, 2115 Cottman Ave., doesn’t ex­pect a Black Fri­day surge.

SHIN­ING MO­MENTS

“Nor­mally, we don’t,” he said. “Usu­ally, it’s the last two weeks, last week and a half.”

Most of his cus­tom­ers then are men who are shop­ping for their wives or girl­friends, he said, as op­posed to people look­ing for big elec­tron­ics who are in the stores the day after Thanks­giv­ing.

Big items this year are sil­ver, not gold, he said. Also, sil­ver name­plates are very pop­u­lar with young­er cus­tom­ers, but they need to be ordered two weeks in ad­vance. Sales are strong, too, in men’s stain­less steel jew­elry.

To bring in cus­tom­ers, Be­lag­gio said, he is of­fer­ing 60-per­cent dis­counts on dia­mond jew­elry right up to Christ­mas Eve.

When people aren’t shop­ping for gifts, they’re shop­ping to party.

Cook­ies tra­di­tion­ally are the big sellers every Christ­mas sea­son, said Steve Schenk of Schenk’s Bakery, 7951Ver­ree Road. So are mini­ature pastries, he said, adding both are big for Christ­mas parties.

But, for the past few years, cus­tom­ers have been com­ing in for “dif­fer­ently shaped” cakes, the baker said.

With the pop­ular­ity of cable TV shows Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss, Schenk said more and more people are re­quest­ing some of the icing monu­ments they see on TV.

“It seems nobody wants a sheet cake any­more,” he said, adding that or­ders for cus­tom-made cakes have quad­rupled from a couple a week to eight. 

Some of the re­quests take some work and a lot of design­ing, so he asks for or­ders to be placed sev­en to 10 days in ad­vance. 

“It’s al­most like you have to be an en­gin­eer nowadays,” he said. •• 

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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