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Holiday Gift Buying On Track To Be 12% Ahead Of 2005

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Gift givers have spent on average $1,034 on gifts for holidays and occasions through July 2006, nearly 20 percent more than they spent in the same period last year. If they continue buying gifts for friends and family at their present rate, total gift spending could top over $2,250 this year — a 12 percent rise over average spending in 2005, according to Unity Marketing’s Gift Tracker quarterly purchasing study of gift givers. Christmas gift shoppers expected to spend over $1,000 for all holiday gifts. This year more gifters got an early start on Christmas gift shopping. Some 25 percent of gifters have spent on average $169 buying Christmas gifts to date, that compares to only 20 percent who made early Christmas gift purchases last year. Projecting their current level of spending through the rest of year, Unity expects the average amount spent on Christmas gifts to exceed $1,000. “Early Christmas shopping may well lead to more gift purchases and spending,” says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of the new book Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience. “Some shoppers take umbrage at retailers that put Christmas merchandise out too early. But Christmas gift shopping, like death and taxes, is inevitable. People are thinking about gift choices earlier in the season and the more they shop, the more they will ultimately buy, despite their intentions to keep spending down. “Last year nearly 40 percent of gifters went over their budget for holiday gift purchases. We expect the same pattern to emerge this year,” Danziger says. New Gift Choices Will Be Favored This Year Based upon gift purchasing patterns tracked this year, shoppers will be making new gift selections for this holiday season, for example: - Gift certificates will be especially strong: This season more shoppers will opt for retailers’ gift cards as their primary gift. Knowing this, savvy retailers will have add-on impulse gift ideas right at hand with their gift card displays. “Gift cards can be kind of tacky,” Danziger says, “but when combined with a ‘real’ gift - like Barnes & Noble’s gift card that comes bundled with a Godiva chocolate four-pack — it makes a much better presentation. Too many retailers only show their gift cards at the cash register with gum and tabloids. That is a waste of prime retail space at holiday time.” - More demand for gifts that deliver a tasting experience: More gifters will choose food, wine, spirits, chocolate and other ‘feel-good’ tasting experiences as gifts. People will buy specialty food items as gifts that have a real point-of-difference that make them truly special, not the mass-market grocery store brands. And more gifters will present gift certificates for their favorite restaurants this year, as well. - Little luxuries will be popular: Rounding out the top gift ideas this year will be gifts that pack the maximum amount of luxurious indulgence at a reasonable price. So bath and body gifts, luxury soaps, candles, home fragrances, take-home spa kits, perfumes and other good smelling stuff of all kinds will fly off the shelves. Gifts that truly indulge the recipient in a sensual way will be a hit this year. Retailers that delight the Christmas gift market get an extra pay off “The gifting market is especially important to the nation’s retailers and not just during the fourth quarter, but throughout the entire year,” Danziger concludes. “Approximately 40 percent of gift shoppers’ annual budgets are spent buying gifts for gifting occasions that occur throughout the year. "By delighting the gift givers with wonderful gift ideas and extra services that make gifting easier, like deluxe gift wrap services and a selection of cards, wraps and bags, retailers tap the exponential marketing potential of gifting. Through gifting, marketers touch two target markets personally and directly, i.e. the person who buys the gift and the person who receives it. Because it is ‘two times two,’ gifting is exponential marketing,” Danziger concludes. About Gift Tracker Survey: Unity Marketing, on the forefront of market research on the gifting market, conducts a quarterly gift tracking study to measure the pulse of the gift consumer in a longitudinal survey of 800 gift buying consumers. Every quarter Unity tracks what gifts they bought during the past quarter, what gift occasions and holidays stimulated those purchases, how much they spent per holiday and occasion, where they bought gifts, the store and product brands they relied upon for gifts and their expectations for future purchases of gifts. The Gift Tracker survey is a subscription service which is customized to include subscribers’ specific gift products, their brands and key competitor brands in order to measure the effectiveness of marketers’ and retailers’ success in the gifting market. The next Gift Tracker survey will be fielded earl October 2006 to track 3Q2006 gift purchases and plans for 4Q2006 holiday. For more information on Gift Tracker, go to www.unitymarketingonline.com

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