LC Bulletin: Expect larger crowds Friday

November 27, 2009. Retrieved online December 1, 2009 from Gabriel Vasquez, Las Cruces Bulletin

ICSC predicts 6 percent shopper increase for bargain holiday

If you’re planning on braving the cold and dark this year to go bargain hunting, you’re not alone.

According to the International Council for Shopping Centers (ICSC), Black Friday holiday sales will draw more customers this year, from 10 percent of holiday shoppers in 2007 and 2008 to 16 percent this year.

The survey, conducted annually in partnership with Goldman, Sachs & Co., calculates that the average holiday season shopper will spend $543 on gifts and $133 on gift cards, with a bulk of the money being spent on Black Friday.

“This pattern is not totally surprising,” said Goldman, Sachs & Co.’s Research Analyst Michelle Tan, announcing the numbers. “Traffic has been increasingly concentrated in key shopping periods with deeper lulls and these survey results suggest this trend will continue during the 2009 holiday season.”

For April Anaya, the numbers ring true. She said she and her husband will look for the most enticing deals this week and plan their Black Friday accordingly, something they haven’t done for more than 10 years.

“I don’t usually shop Black Friday, I’m not the most patient person,” Anaya said. “But the economy being the way it is, we’re looking for good deals. We’re going to look at the flyers this Thursday and plan from there.”

Anaya said despite the tough economy, she still wants to have as many, if not more, boxes and bags under the family Christmas tree this year.

“My son has really been into gaming lately,” she said. “He’s a big XBOX fan, and already, I see some of the games are going down from $60 to $40. I’ll be looking for the best deals on other video games like the Nintendo DS.”

Jessica Hernandez, a college student, said she’s never shopped Black Friday, but is willing to sacrifice a good night’s sleep for lucrative specials on toys.

“I’ve always been intimidated by the sales,” she said. “But this year they have some really good specials on toys that I’m hoping to get for my nephews. I’m just hoping I can get there in time.”

Building a better nest

Although clothing, toys and games lead the way as the main gift items of choice, this year’s ICSC survey indicates a notable shift toward purchasing gifts that could be used at home.

The three areas that show the biggest increase in consumer interest over last year are music, CDs and DVDs; housewares; and consumer electronics, with a notable increase in electronic book readers.

“The real story is the shift toward nesting items – those that are either for, or used within the home,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s director of research and chief economist.

“It keeps with the trend we have seen over the course of the recession, that people are spending more time at home – eating in, renting movies … and purchasing gifts that make this practice more enjoyable.”

Bruce Huhmann, retail expert and marketing professor at New Mexico State University, said the nesting trend is a marketing ploy called “cocooning,” or catering to an aging demographic, in this case, baby boomers.

“As they have gotten older, they want less to go out and more to make their home a fun and enjoyable place,” he said. “We’ve had that trend for a long time, but it’s obviously stronger this year because there are a lot of (people) who don’t have money to spend on other things.”

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