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The Halloween costumes are packed away and stores are piping in the carols, it is a signal: Get ready for the busiest shopping season of the year.
Consumers plan to spend an average of $704.18 on gifts this year, down 2.1 percent from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Holiday Consumer survey.
To make those dollars count, shoppers want to know they’re buying the right gift.
“In 2009, it was all about personal, practical gifts, and last year consumers wanted to treat their loved ones to something special,” said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director at BIGresearch. “This year, it’s a little bit of both.”
According to the research, exactly half of the respondents picked accessories and apparel as their choice of gift for the holiday. Others chose electronics, jewelry, or personal-care items.
To make your shopping easier, here’s a guide that offers up ideas that should suit you if you want to give something trendy or something practical, or a little of both.
By Sally Shin
Posted 08 November 2011
The holiday season is typically loaded with must-have videogames, but the number hitting shelves this year is unprecedented.
Several top franchises have new installments out and some new games are looking very promising. That's good news for players, but it's even better for gift buyers, since few gamers will be able to keep up with the deluge. Here are some sure-fire suggestions.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 07 November 2011
'Tis the time for giving. This holiday season, affluent consumers are more comfortable with their spending. On average, affluent households spend more than four times more than the average family on holiday gifts, according to the National Retail Federation industry trade group.
“After four plus years of reprioritizing and realigning their spending to match their values, affluent consumers are feeling quite good about themselves and their ability to maintain — and even increase — their family’s happiness and well-being,” says Jim Taylor, vice-president of Harrison Group, a marketing consulting and research services firm.
For those who want to spare no expense, there are plenty of fashionable items that are on trend — leopard gloves, checkered pajamas, and metallic heels, to name a few. But personalized gifts focusing on relationships and experiences, and products that help raise money for charitable causes, are just as fashionable, as affluent consumers look to give gifts that are more meaningful.
Click ahead for some luxurious gift ideas.
By Jessica Naziri
Posted 04 November 2011
In this tough economy, consumers are laser-focused on finding ways to stretch their budgets, and their best tool may be in their pocket.
There are a number of smartphone applications that can help you to organize your shopping, track your spending, and let you know that you’re walking away with the best deal available.
“Shoppers are looking for deals before they are looking at brands,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a New York City-based brand and customer loyalty research consultancy.
About 60 percent of shoppers will use online shopping and price comparison applications to hunt down the best deals, Passikoff said.
We’ve gathered up 10 of the best apps to help you save money this holiday season. All the apps listed here are free and widely available across multiple smartphone platforms, such as iOS and Android.
No doubt, shoppers will also want to look for apps from their favorite retailers and even daily deal sites such as Groupon, Gilt Group, and Living Social. There also are apps such as CheckPoints and ShopKick, which allow consumers to earn points while they shop.
Click ahead to see some of the best shopping apps out there to save you money.
By Christina Cheddar-Berk
Posted 02 November 2011
Santa delivered for the toy industry last year. After several years of decline, U.S. sales turned around in 2010 and grew about 2 percent from the prior year to about $21.87 billion, according to market researcher NPD Group.
The holiday season is a critical time for the industry, because that is when it rings up the bulk of its annual sales.
This year, many toymakers are sticking to tried-and-true formulas to win customers, but these classic themes often have a new twist that makes them fresh.
We’ve scanned the hot holiday toy lists from retailers, trade publications and blogs, and did a little digging ourselves to bring you a collection of toys that is sure to please.
Click ahead to see the hottest toys of the holiday season.
By Christina Cheddar-Berk
Posted 1 November 2011
Americans are expected to spend more than $1 billion on costumes for their children and $310 million to dress up their pets, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group.
Although many young adults hunt for original looks, when it comes to finding a costume for the kids, traditional themes usually win out.
That’s not to say everyone will be dressed alike. More retailers are selling costumes, and this means more choices for consumers.
Costumes for kids and pets tend to draw their inspiration from typical Halloween characters, as well as popular movies and books.
For example, Williams-Sonoma’s Pottery Barn Kids stores sell a number of costume designs for children and infants. Among them are costumes based on Eric Carle’s classic children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
Children can opt to dress as the caterpillar or the butterfly it becomes.
Pottery Barn’s costumes tend to have a more homemade look to them and are priced at the higher end of the range for typical children’s costumes. Customers also can buy matching bags for trick-or-treating.
Click ahead to see some of the hottest costumes for kids and pets this year.
By Christina Cheddar Berk Posted 5 October 2011
Christina Cheddar Berk is assistant managing editor of Enterprise coverage at CNBC Digital.
Courtney Reagan is CNBC's Retail Reporter.
Tom is a Senior Editor and Assignment Desk Manager for CNBC TV. He also writes about the business of beer for CNBC.com.
Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."
Coordinating Producer, Squawk on the Street & Squawk Alley