It's an all-out war [Daily Tribune (Bahrain)]
(Daily Tribune (Bahrain) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) After buying and remodelling a home, Karin Gilles and her husband, Dave Muilenburg, are not splurging on holiday gifts this year – no matter how drastically retailers slash prices to lift sales in a shopping season that peaks this weekend. The couple, instead, is focusing on "a few, more-meaningful gifts," said Gilles, 41, who works in public relations for a technology company in California's Silicon Valley. That approach is not unusual. Many Americans are either spending less or making more practical purchases – some because they haven't benefited from the economic recovery, and others because they have purchased new cars, homes or appliances, leaving less for discretionary items. Holiday sales are expected to be the same or only slightly stronger than last year, according to the quarterly Global Retail Manufacturers and Importers Survey by Capital Business Credit, which provides funding to retailers' suppliers. For the final weekend leading up to Christmas, retailers are planning for longer hours and even more aggressive advertising and discounts. "You'll see heavier promotions than last year, pretty much across the board," said Charles O'Shea, senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service. The biggest discounts, he said, would be at apparel stores – especially those competing for shoppers who are also interested in buying video game consoles. "These next few days will determine quite a few things." said O'Shea. "Is 50 per cent off enough, or do you have to go 60pc off?" A new Ipsos/Reuters poll released on Friday found that consumers plan to spend about a third less this year than last year on items such as jewellery, toys and electronics. E ight per cent said they would spend more on jewellery, 13pc more on toys and 17pc more on electronics. Sales of major appliances, however, rose 18.1pc in the month ended November 23, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, "Santa is still going to come, but the goodies in his bag are going to be slightly different," said Patty Edwards, managing director of investments for the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank. "There's more of a focus on necessities. We're seeing more need-driven shopping than want-driven shopping.'" FINAL PUSH Competing for shoppers led major retailers to significantly ramp up the frequency of their promotions in the first part of December, according to data prepared for Reuters by Market Track, a firm that provides market research for top retailers and manufacturers. A group of eight major retail chains, including J.C. Penney Co, Wal-Mart Stores and Best Buy Co, increased the number of circulars they published between December 3 and December 18 nearly 16pc over the comparable period a year earlier. Those retailers, which also include Sears and Kmart, Macy's Inc, Kohl's Corp and Target Corp, ramped up the online deals even more, increasing the number of promotional emails by 54.5pc, according to the Market Track data. The battle for shoppers has also led to the most discount-driven season since the recession, according to analysts and executives. "There is a quicker turnover of promotions this year, and now several times, within a day," eBay Enterprise CEO Chris Saridakis said. "It's an all-out war."
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