‘Tis the season for sensible shoppingPublished 10:42am Monday, November 2, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Even before the Halloween candy stashes had been cleared out and snatched up by eager trick-or-treaters, area retailers were clearing off their shelves and making room for the official start of the holiday shopping season.
From row upon row of poinsettias, ropes of twinkle lights, the latest toys, electronics and gifts – it is the season that retailers wait for all year long.
But this year is shaping up to be even more of a challenge as retailers large and small are facing yet another season in which consumers are likely to curb their spending putting their bottom lines on the line.
A recent poll conducted by Consumer Reports indicated that “65 percent of Americans plan to cut back on overall holiday expenses.”
That news could leave store owners like Sue Majerek a little concerned.
“Hopefully this year will be better than last year,” she said.
Majerek was busy Friday stocking holiday decorations, gifts and greeting cards, and said she’s hoping for a sufficient holiday season.
What seems to be in demand this holiday season: practicality.
“Practical items at different price points” were on Majerek’s when buying for the store, the objective being to “try to keep it (price) low, but nice quality items.”
The evidence that practicality would be all the rage first emerged last year, Majerek said.
“Last year people were getting back to the basics,” she said.
Her bestseller was the classic toys of Raggedy Ann and Andy, toys which just happed to be quite popular throughout economic hard times in American history – including during the Great Depression.
Practicality just might be the driving force behind Wal-Mart’s move to focus on affordable holiday shopping as well.
The discount juggernaut announced that its “10 for $10″ program instituted in stores last year would become an assortment of more than 100 toys at $10, a program to be found in each of its stores.
In the company’s announcement about the program in September, Laura Phillips, chief toy officer and vice president of toys at Wal-Mart, said, “With the popularity of our ’10 for $10′ toy program last October, we knew it was important for customers that we bring it back and offer an even greater amount of $10 toys this year. We began working months ago to ensure we could also introduce many toys at just $10 for this holiday program, as well as roll back prices at a time when our customers were ready to make purchases.”
Some of the toys on Wal-Mart’s list include classic board games such as Connect 4, Battleship and Monopoly as well as the Vtech Explore and Learn Helicopter, Little Dreams Interactive Baby Doll and more.
Though the Consumer Reports poll found that just 31 percent of consumers had gotten a head start on their holiday shopping, small business owners like Majerek believe that its going to be a good season.
“Because people are buying right now,” she said.
Maybe not buying as much as shopping but that makes getting holiday stock on the shelves now even more important.
“If you don’t have it out they’re not going to know you have it,” she said.
Though big companies like Wal-Mart are also feeling the pinch of these economic times, Majerek said the importance of shopping locally continues to be one consumers should keep in mind.
“If they want their town to make it, they need to keep their local stores in mind,” she said.