Holiday surveys offer popular gift ideas
A consumer lugs her bags as she takes photos in downtown Chicago on Saturday. A private research group says consumer¿s confidence in the economy in November soared 15 points to its highest level since July. The report was encouraging news for the holiday shopping season. (AP Photo)
A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGresearch.
The number of early bird shoppers was the highest in survey history, yet many shoppers are still racking their brains for gift ideas that will suit even the pickiest recipients.
A recent Nielsen study found that books, clothing and technology are the product categories most likely to get a boost in sales this season. The survey included online respondents in 56 countries.
"A lot of people are buying Nooks and E-readers," Books-A-Million store manager Greg Kraycirik said. Kraycirik manages the Books-A-Million at The Galleria in Johnstown.
The store is part of a nationwide chain.
Kraycirik has noticed an increase in book sales so far this holiday season.
"A lot of the movies these days are based on books, such as the Twilight series. There is always a big surge of sales," he said.
Traditional hardback books are still a top-selling item despite the E-reader and other electronic versions.
"We sell the Nook, but we still have strong sales for the old-school books," Kraycirik said. "New authors usually time their books to come out around Thanksgiving or Christmas so it boosts their sales."
Gift cards are another popular option this holiday season. Though consumers plan on spending about the same amount of money on gifts as they did last year, a Nielsen survey suggests many will spend slightly more on toys, gift cards, technology, apparel and video games.
This year's sales reflect little change in the amount of retail sales. Seventy-three percent of consumers around the world plan to spend the same amount or less on gifts compared to last year, according to the Nielsen survey.
Online sales, however, have shown significant growth so far this year.
Consumers spent about $9.7 billion online from Nov. 1 to Nov. 20, according to comScore, a company that specializes in crafting successful marketing, sales, product development and trading strategies. The sales marked a 14 percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.
Though the increase appears promising, it is virtually impossible to say how increased online sales could impact the state or local economy.
Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, commented on the increase in online sales. The center provides independent analysis on the economy and public policy.
"It is hard to know precisely what these data imply for Pennsylvania. Assuming the increase in online sales reflects an overall increase in sales, then this data bodes well for Pennsylvania, because it suggests that the economy is continuing to recover," he said.