--Annual America’s Research Group Survey Also Shows America is Going Home This Thanksgiving Like Never Before

Fear about the future of the American war with Afghanistan, terrorism, and a recessionary economy will insure that this holiday season will be the biggest no-profit Christmas for retailers in a decade, predicts Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group. Beemer is projecting a 3.2% drop in holiday sales this season, on a comparative store basis. In the research firm’s annual survey of consumer’s holiday shopping plans, Beemer also noted that nearly 80% of Americans plan to be with family this Thanksgiving (normally that figure is 68.1%), and 70% of traveling Americans (one in three) say they will be going home by car rather than plane.

“This all-important retail shopping season had too many obstacles,” say Beemer, who has predicted the last seven selling seasons within a .5% level. “If retailers don’t win the shopping wars on Thanksgiving weekend, they can write off the entire Christmas season,” he warns. Luxury retailers will most likely suffer the most. This Christmas families are buying for the same number of people, but expect to spend $759.66 compared to $828.17 last year. There is a 20% decline at the upper end of families planning to spend over $1,000 (14.3%, down from 18.0%). The survey of more than 1,000 consumers, was conducted by America’s Research Group over a two-day period (October 27 and 28), with an error factor of plus/minus 4.3%. Other factors affecting holiday retail sales include:
  • Concerns about the future was a huge contributing factor by 15.3% (up considerably from last year’s 6.5%), while fear of losing jobs also rose dramatically to 14.2% (another big jump from 0.4% in 2000)
  • More shoppers (41.3%, up from 25.4%) plan to give gift certificates this Christmas and 31.4% plan to give cash versus 23.4% last Christmas—the reason cited was the promise of bigger savings during after-Christmas sales for the recipients
  • Again major discounters such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target will see more shoppers than ever with 53.1% planning to shop these stores (up from 31.6% last year)
  • On-line shopping will increase from 14.4% to 18.4% with families expecting to spend $246.15 in 2001, compared to $200.32 last season
  • Less shopping will be done at enclosed malls this year with 30.6% saying less and only 17.7% saying more, a ratio of 2 to 1 on the negative side. A year ago, 22.1% said less and 18.1 said more which had a very narrow range. Additionally 21.2 % say they will avoid malls if possible due to the recent Anthrax scare
  • Retailers need to be aware that 61.9% of Americans intend to shop at stores giving a portion of their profits to victims of the September 11th attacks
  • Over half of the consumers surveyed said they will be looking for “Made in America” products this Christmas
  • Giving $20 or more to charity will rise from 35.9% to 42.6%
  • Consumers expect to complete their holiday shopping much earlier this year with 60% intending to finish by December 15th, compared to 47.3% last year
  • Churches/synagogues will be more crowded with 51.2% saying they will attend more religious services this Christmas
  • 20.5% say they will be going to fewer Christmas parties this year

“Any retailer waiting to advertise a 50% off sale a week before Christmas will find there will be few shoppers at their retail funeral,” declares Beemer.

Top 7 Retail Categories in 2001:     Top 7 Retail Categories in 2000:    
Toys 36.6%    Toys 34.5%
Children’s clothes 28.5%    Children’s clothes 23.0%
Men’s clothes 23.4%    Women’s clothes 21.6%
Jewelry 21.9%    Sporting Goods 21.1%
Women’s clothes 20.4%    Video Games 18.7%
Sporting goods 16.1%    Men's Clothes 17.1%
Perfume/cologne 16.1%    Jewelry 16.3%

TOP SEVEN TOYS 2001:     TOP SEVEN TOYS 2000:    
Toy cars and trucks 28.2%   Nintendo/Play Station 20.9%
Nintendo/Play Station 25.2%   Computer games 23.0%
Barbie dolls 22.2%   Barbie dolls 20.9%
Bicycle 19.7%   Doll babies 18.8%
Hand-held games 15.0%   Action figures 17.7%
Board games 13.7%   Toy cars and trucks 16.6%
Doll babies 13.2%   Board games 11.2%

Britt Beemer is available for interview.Selected questions from the survey are available upon resquest.

America’s Research Group, Ltd. (ARG), is a full service consumer behavior survey research company with more than 22 years experience. ARG has interviewed more than 4 million consumers. Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative research, the firm works with clients to develop practical and successful marketing strategies for pace-setting companies in the fields of home furnishings, appliance and electronics retailing, banking and finance, automobile dealers, department stores, specialty and mass merchants. Clients include Sealy Mattress, Kohl’s Department Stores, IKEA, Barnes & Noble, AT&T; Wireless, Eckerd Drugs, Broyhill Furniture, Thomasville Furniture, American Eagle Outfitters and many others.

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