Magazine article Drug Topics

Will Christmas Sales Be Bright This Season?

Magazine article Drug Topics

Will Christmas Sales Be Bright This Season?

Article excerpt

CHAINS and BUSINESS

Retailers have good reason to be jittery this Yuletide - what with the softening of consumer confidence, the prospect of a war with Iraq, the volatile stock market, and a 10-day West Coast port shutdown that delayed delivery of many items, especially toys. Still, pharmacies appear optimistic that 2002 will turn out to be a pretty decent holiday season. A recent survey gives them reason to be upbeat.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) 2002 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted in October, consumers plan to spend an average of $649, an increase of 2.6% from the 2001 projected spending.

While this year's research demonstrated that consumers appear to be taking a cautious approach to their holiday spending, with one-third of respondents planning to spend less than last year, the majority of consumers (56%) plan to spend about the same as they did in 2001. NRF predicts total holiday sales will increase 4% over last year's registered sales of $201 billion.

The survey also found that more than half (55%) of respondents said they plan to take advantage of sales or price discounts during the holiday season to make additional non-gift purchases for themselves.

What chains are doing

Mark Griffin, president/CEO of Lewis Drugs, Sioux Falls, S.D., said, "There's guarded optimism for the season. I think it's going to be a practical season. Because of the events in the past year and a half, people are nesting now more than ever and are enhancing their homes. That trend will continue. Some of the frivolous and luxury items will be not as popular this year, which basically bodes well for the chain drugstore business because we are practical application stores. Given that, we are in a good position."

What items will be hot? Griffin projected strong front-end sales from chocolates and consumables that are "not high-ticket, but make a nice present." Inexpensive jewelry, Presto Pizza Ovens, George Foreman Grilling Machines, and giftware figurines such as Precious Moments are expected to be hot. He also pointed out that, as of late October, the chain was already starting to do considerable business in pre-lit artificial trees.

"There are also fiber optics in garlands, wreaths, and trees now. Christmas is going hightech,"said Griffin. "It's a trend, and people jump on trends in a hurry regarding Christmas decor."

Griffin expects huge sales from DVD players in the $75 to $100 price range, as well as DVD movies of new releases and digital cameras that are priced under $200. Famous brand sweatshirts and sweaters from names like Adidas, Nike, and Polo are expected to sell, and, for the first time in years, ladies robes will be scooped up, he said.

When it comes to toys, Griffin is betting that Playstation and Microsoft's Xbox video game system will be strong, as well as toy vehicles Hot Wheels Micro Racers and Micro Scooters.

Griffin concluded by saying that he expects this Christmas to be one in which consumers are offered value and discounts. "People might need a little push to get into the buying mode, and we're going to help them."

Michael Polzin, spokesman for Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, told Drug Topics, "We're optimistic by nature, and we're optimistic about this season." Among the goodies consumers will find exclusively at Walgreens this holiday season is Enesco Group's It's a Wonderful Life brand products, including illuminated villages based on select scenes of Bedford Falls, seasonal ornaments, sculpted mugs, photo frames, and porcelain bells. …

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