Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Consumers Eager to Have a Frightfully Good Time This Halloween
Ghouls and goblins galore, Halloween celebrations will be BOOming this year as more people than ever are expected to partake in traditional festivities.
According to the National Retail Federation's 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch, seven in 10 Americans (68.6%) plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 63.8 percent last year and the most in NRF's 10-year survey history.
Those celebrating are expected to spend slightly more, too; the average person will shell out $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66.28 last year. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion.
"Eager to shake off the summer heat and forget about the economy for a few days, Americans are looking forward to having some fun this Halloween," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Many retailers have already stocked their shelves with Halloween merchandise and, given the popularity of the holiday this year, consumers should not hesitate when they find something that would make their celebration complete."
The survey found this year's celebrations will be far from tempered as more people plan to dress in costume (43.9% vs. 40.1% in 2010), throw or attend a party (34.3% vs. 33.3% last year) and visit a haunted house (22.9% vs. 20.8% in 2010.) Additionally, half (49.5%) will decorate their home/yard and 14.7 percent will dress their pets in costume.
Other traditional celebratory activities include handing out candy (73.5%), carving a pumpkin (47.8%) and taking children trick-or-treating (32.9%).
With celebrations increasing, spending is expected to slightly increase across the board as well. The average consumer is expected to spend $26.52 on costumes. This year, Americans will spend $1 billion on children's costumes, up from $840 million last year, and $1.21 billion on adult costumes, up from $990 million last year. Additionally, pet owners will shell out $310 million on pint size devils, pumpkins and witch costumes.
When it comes to decorations, more people this year than in the survey's history will buy life-size skeletons, extra large inflatable pumpkins and fake cob webs, spending an average of $19.79. Spending on Halloween décor is second only to spending on Christmas decorations. Festive celebrants will also buy candy ($21.05) and greeting cards ($4.96).
"Thanks to creative costumes and décor for consumers of all ages, Halloween has become one of the most anticipated holidays of the year for many people," said Pam Goodfellow, Consumer Insights Director, BIGresearch. "As a non-gift holiday, even people on the strictest budget can enjoy themselves this Halloween."
Consumers aren't completely blowing caution to the wind this year, however. According to the survey, nearly one-third (32.1%) say the state of the U.S. economy will impact their Halloween plans. To compensate, most say they will try to spend less overall (87.1%). Others will make a costume instead of purchasing one (18.9%), use last year's costume (16.6%) and buy less candy (40.2%).
(Source: National Retail Federation, 09/28/11)
To access the complete survey results, click here.
||In Time of Scrimping, Fun Stuff is Still Selling
With a flat job market and an economy that will not improve, Americans are once again buckling down and cutting back.
At least on the things that they can resist.
Consumers at all income levels have been splurging on indulgences while paring many humdrum household expenses, according to industry data for the last year. Many retailers also report that while fripperies like purses and perfumes are best sellers, they cannot get shoppers interested in basics like diapers, socks and vacuum bags.
"My birthday is coming up, so I'm treating myself," said Ragan Belton, a social worker leaving the Macy's in Manhattan with newly styled hair and a pair of shoes.
Consumer psychologists say that in this uncertain economy -- coming after one of the worst recessions in generations -- it is just too hard being good all the time.
"People have a limited supply of energy to put toward controlling their urges," Kathleen D. Vohs, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, said in an e-mail. Ms. Vohs studies spending behavior at the university's Carlson School of Management.
Many of the products selling briskly are not high-priced, but they could be on a party supply list: premixed cocktails and coolers, cheesecake, cosmetics and wine. Meanwhile, sales of staples like batteries, bleach and fertilizer have declined sharply.
The pattern has shifted since the recession, when shoppers stocked up on basics but consumer spending and overall retail sales plummeted. Now, despite persistent consumer pessimism, spending is holding up, retailers have posted consistent profits and some companies that make the fun stuff are reporting especially strong results.
The cosmetics maker Estée Lauder, for example, announced last month that it had recorded its strongest fiscal year in North America in a decade, and a competitor, L'Oréal, said its first-half net profit was up 12 percent from a year ago. Recently, a crush of shoppers hoping to buy a cheaper line of Missoni fashions at Target brought down the retailer's Web site for the better part of a day.
"When the crisis hit and people really started to feel a pinch in their pocketbooks, they started to spend less across the board, especially in discretionary kinds of things," said Vicki G. Morwitz, a professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University. "But it's difficult, I think, for people to do that for a long time, even when they need to."
Economists say the spending does not translate into a broader shift in consumer confidence, nor does it point to an economic revival. In the long run, basics are the bread and butter of retailing, and when they slump, the industry as a whole eventually feels the pinch. Also, some analysts say, many shoppers remain price-conscious, even about their indulgences. That means they tend to gravitate toward cheaper imports, which might help on the retail employment front but does not create manufacturing jobs domestically.
"The toughest businesses, frankly, have been in the middle of the basics assortments," Myron E. Ullman III, chairman and chief executive of J. C. Penney, told investors last month, referring to clothing staples. In the company's second quarter, shoes, handbags and jewelry were top sellers.
At Kohl's, similar categories -- watches, handbags and women's shoes -- were among the strong sellers in the second quarter.
"The psychology of the customer is you can -- I hate to sound too esoteric here -- but you can improve your outfit or dress up your outfit without buying a new outfit by buying a new handbag," said Kevin Mansell, chief executive of Kohl's. "It makes people feel better."
Unit sales of premade cocktails and coolers, which declined in the first two years of the recession, have jumped 24 percent in the last year. A similar pattern holds with many other indulgent items, which dropped in sales when the recession hit. In the last year, though, sales of body scrubbers jumped 21 percent, cosmetic accessories rose 22 percent and nail polish rose 10 percent. Refrigerated baked goods were up 16 percent, and wine 6 percent. The figures come from SymphonyIRI Group, a market research firm in Chicago, that tracked sales at most major stores, excluding Wal-Mart, for the 52 weeks ending July 10.
"In a poor economy, at any given moment people are more likely to have problems with self-control than otherwise -- because there's only so far their self-control energy can be stretched," said Ms. Vohs, the professor of marketing.
Some of the products that declined are associated with household chores. Fertilizer and weed killer dropped 19 percent, as did vacuum bags. Thermometers declined by 20 percent, and flashlights and batteries by 10 percent. Diapers, bleach, shoe polish, car wax and socks are also on a downward trajectory, the data shows. Of course, not all products fit neatly into these trends. Experts are still pondering the run on meat pies, the sales of which jumped 15 percent.
People interviewed about their shopping practices sounded as if they had grown tired of budgeting. Ms. Belton, the shopper at Macy's, said that she had curtailed spending as her hours and pay decreased, but that she needed a break from the austerity. "This was one of the first times I went shopping in six months," she said.
Outside a Sephora store in Times Square, Angela Spencer, 50, said, "I may not buy as much, but I accessorize more." She splurges, she said, "only if I really got to have it."
One thriving category in the treat-yourself economy has been cheesecake, with sales rising 22 percent in the last year, according to the SymphonyIRI data.
At Junior's Cheesecake, a Brooklyn-based restaurant and cheesecake store, a co-founder, Alan Rosen, said sales at the 61-year-old company were increasing again after dropping for the first time ever during the recession.
"People want to get back to living -- it's become a more adjusted normal," he said.
(Source: The New York Times, 09/23/11)
||Malls Adapting to Changing Economic Times
For 15 years, the West Ridge Mall in Topeka, Kan., was very good to Briman's Leading Jewelers. But in the past decade, co-owner Rob Briman could sense a change.
"As the 2000s began, business started declining," he says. "2007 and 2008 were awful years for us in the mall."
Eventually, Briman shut that store and focused on his main location downtown. Looking back, he blames the shopping center's attempts to lure a younger demographic.
"It is mostly targeted toward the 15- to 20-year-old customer," he says. "There really isn't much there anymore for people of my generation."
Briman isn't the only person shunning the neighborhood mall. Long pilloried as soulless shrines to consumerism, malls hit tough times in the 2000s -- there is even a website (DeadMalls.com) devoted to their demise. By 2005, journalists began declaring the "end of the mall"; those stories continue to this day.
But people in the retail real estate business will tell you that many malls are alive and well; there has simply been an often brutal -- and ongoing -- winnowing-out process. "Malls are doing much better than is being reported," maintains Chris Macke, senior real estate strategist with the Washington, D.C.–based CoStar Group. "For all the negatives, you still have an inherently desirable concept."
According to ShopperTrak, a Chicago company that measures retail commerce, after a dramatic decline during the recession, mall traffic made a resurgence in 2010 and has remained flat in 2011. "The highs we saw in 2006 and 2007 have not come back," says founder Bill Martin. "But malls are doing pretty well given the economic times."
Retail analyst Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a New York City retail consulting firm, says it depends on the center: "There are maybe 400 malls that will be good forever. They are in the right areas; they have the best tenants. But you have many more that are goners. There is no reason for them to exist."
Indeed, the real estate industry has seen a real demarcation between "good" and "bad" sites, says Ivan Friedman, president and CEO of RCS Real Estate Advisors. "Retailers are becoming far more selective," Friedman says. "Everyone wants to get into the A malls; no one wants to go into the B and C malls."
Malls are graded based on sales per foot. “A” malls, such as Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, Mich., and The Falls in Miami, are ranked among the dominant properties in their markets, with top anchors and at least $400 per square foot in sales, according to Retail Traffic magazine. They are also generally well-kept aesthetically. "It is easy to tell which malls are going to be the winners," says Macke.
One thing working in malls' favor: New construction has all but halted. In their heyday, so many were built that they often cannibalized each other. But the last major enclosed regional mall in America was built in 2006, five long years ago. "The retailers are going to existing space, which helps with vacancies," says Jesse Tron, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).
Other pluses for malls: They specialize in fashion, which Macke feels has made them less vulnerable to online competition. "A lot of the goods on the mall you want to feel and touch," he says.
Meanwhile, faced with empty space, some locales have welcomed nontraditional tenants such as doctors' offices, government offices, grocers, even schools. "Those also provide some spillover effect," says Tron. "A kids' gym is a prime example. A parent can drop off their child and then go shop for an hour."
And because malls are typically places to not only buy things, but also hang out, a large number have added attractions that boast entertainment value. The Regency Mall in Racine, Wis., for example, just opened a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course.
"Malls are trying to reinvent themselves once again," says Martin. "They want people to come for something other than shopping."
Steve Davolt, vice president of marketing for Ben Bridge Jewelers, agrees that developers have become "more creative" at luring people, noting that many have also beefed up their dining options; the King of Prussia Mall, for instance, in King of Prussia, Pa., features the grill and wine bar Seasons 52, along with Sullivan's and Morton's steakhouses. "It's no longer just the old food court," he says.
As the recession lifts, the ICSC sees a trend in redevelopment. "Mall owners...are reinvesting in current properties to bring their rents up to market value and attract more people," Tron says.
All of which means the best sites will continue to lure consumers, not to mention tenants. Take Scott Murray, owner of Murray's Jewelry in Jasper, Ala. He had two stores along a local highway. But in May he closed both to open at the Jasper Mall -- right across from a Zales.
"It's the best move I ever made," he says. "In my old location, I'd get a $1,500 sale once every six months. Now I'm seeing them once a day."
He praises the center for staying spruced up. "It's a real pretty mall," he says. "And traffic is great. It's busy from the time it opens until the time it closes. I'm always surprised when I come in in the morning how many cars there are in the parking lot."
(Source: Jewelers' Circular Keystone, 09/20/11)
Daily Sales Tip: The Six P's of Sales Performance
Sales Performance is achieved by implementing certain strategies, procedures, and techniques.
In a client-focused approach to selling (i.e., a relationship selling environment) we believe there are certain elements that contribute to your sales success. Listed below is an overview of these elements.
1. Prospecting -- Identifying the individuals and organizations that have a need for your products and services.
2. Preparation -- Gathering information to assist you in contacting the prospect. Remember: preparation compensates for a lack of talent.
3. Process -- Understanding the prospect's needs, issues and concerns via a step-by-step sales process.
4. Product -- Understanding your product and interpreting the values, advantages, and benefits to your prospect.
5. Presentation -- Presenting your solution with confidence, competence and comfort.
6. Person -- Possessing the belief in yourself and understanding your role as a business problem solver.
Obviously, these will vary with your sales environment, industry, and prospect base. Yet, the above-mentioned categories are important for most sales success. By mastering these elements, you will attain greater sales achievement.
Source: Sales trainer/author Bryan Flanagan