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TODD SMITH — Holiday retail sales forecast brisk, fueled by online shopping surge

TODD SMITH

Based on consumer spending reports from the National Retail Federation, products in the General Merchandise category, including gift cards, clothing, books and media are the items that top most consumers’ wish lists this holiday season.

Sales are expected to increase by 3.4 percent with online shopping becoming the most popular consumer experience for the first time in survey history.

Global Market Development Center (GMDC), a leading General Merchandise and Health Beauty Wellness trade association, recently unwrapped NRF’s top holiday retail trends.

NRF’s annual consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics predicts consumers plan to spend an average of $967 during the 2017 holiday season compared to last year’s reported spending of $936. The figure includes food, flowers, decorations, gifts for others and greeting cards.

“With employment and incomes increasing, consumers are more confident this year and that is reflected in their buying plans for the holidays,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers have been stocking up in expectation of this, and all signs are that this will be a busy holiday season. Retailers are preparing for a rush of consumers leading into Thanksgiving and all through December, and are offering a wide array of merchandise and promotions so shoppers can find great gifts and great deals at the same time.”

NRF anticipates shoppers will jump online and flock to department stores. In fact, online shopping is at its highest rate ever this year – 59 percent, up from 57 percent last year. The survey also found that 57 percent will shop at a department store, 54 percent at a discount store, 46 percent at a grocery store/supermarket and 35 percent at clothing or accessories store. The survey found 27 percent plan to visit an electronics store, 25 percent a small or local business, and 18 percent will go to a crafts or fabrics store.

According to NRF, shoppers say these are at the top of their wish lists this season:

  1. Gift cards/gift certificates – 61 percent
  2. Clothing or clothing accessories – 55 percent – the highest level in 14 years
  3. Books, music or movies – 40 percent
  4. Consumer electronics or computer-related accessories – 33 percent – GMDC research suggests wrist-worn wearables, such as the Fitbit and Apple Watch, are fueling this trend, Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are closely following wearables in popularity, according to GMDC. Also, advanced voice devices, such as Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), Google Home and Apple’s Siri are popular.
  5. Home décor and furnishings – 24 percent

Retailers can capitalize on these trends and others with smart, innovative products and merchandising, according to the GMDC.

“This holiday season is an important one, given the disruptive and rapidly evolving marketplace,” said Mark Mechelse, director of research, industry insights and communications at GMDC.”As the online versus offline battle continues, brick and mortar retailers have a unique opportunity to embrace change. Those that differentiate themselves and leverage technology to transform the way consumers shop can deliver enhanced experiences inside the store. Advancing a new mix of offerings through click-and-collect and home delivery, and curating an assortment of products to reflect localization strategies, retailers can satisfy even the savviest shopper’s wish list.”

New York Times Launches Monthly Section for Kids

The New York Times has launched a monthly section for kids in its print newspaper.

The “Kids” section accompanied the Nov. 19 Sunday edition of the newspaper and then run monthly beginning Jan. 28, 2018. Under the leadership of The New York Times Magazine’s special projects editor Caitlin Roper, it will feature news, illustrations, photography and how-to’s geared toward young readers.

The news topics will be similar to those traditionally featured in The New York Times, from national news and sports to food and arts to opinion.

This initiative comes nearly six months after the outlet included a special children’s section for young readers in its May 14, 2017 edition. According to a news release, that issue was so well received, it sparked an online petition for a permanent kid-friendly section and led to the decision to make it a monthly feature.

“We’re extremely excited to launch a section of The New York Times for kids,” Jake Silverstein, editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine, said. “Who says children don’t need news that’s made just for them? Our goal here is not only to help kids learn about the complex world they live in, but also to give them a taste, through a section designed just for them, of the pleasures of print media. We’ll treat the readers of this section the same way we treat all our readers: with respect.”

The Nov. 19 Kids section featured a story from LeBron James about his journey to basketball stardom, a piece about the role of schools in natural disasters, a profile of a young DACA recipient, a Thanksgiving leftovers recipe, a story about three young athletes competing in risky sports, coolest new artificial intelligent toys and an adult-authored advice column for kids.

The cover story focused on CRISPR, “the gene editing technique that is arguably the biggest scientific discovery in a century.” There will also be mini puzzles for kids, and to coincide with the release, the popular New York Times podcast, “The Daily” will air a special episode kids can listen to with their parents.

Silenced Mic: Country Legend Mel Tillis, ACDC Co-founder Malcom Young Impacted Genres & Generations

The world lost two music legends recently – one a country music icon, the other, co-founder of one of the greatest rock bands in a generation.

Mel Tillis – a Country Music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry member known for his soulful songwriting, sense of humor and famous stutter – galloped into the sunset, having lived life to the fullest and transformed the country music landscape.

The singer, songwriter, comedian and businessman, whose genuine warmth and down-home humor drew countless fans, was 85 years old. In his six-decade career, he recorded more than 60 albums, notched three dozen Top 10 singles and wrote more than 1,000 songs, many of them chart-topping classics.

As a singer, Tillis was most successful in the 1970s, with two dozen Top 10 hits. Five of those were chart-toppers, including “Coca Cola Cowboy,” which was featured in the Clint Eastwood movie “Every Which Way But Loose.” The Country Music Association named Tillis Entertainer of the Year in 1976, the same year he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Malcolm Young, the ace guitar player and founding member of heavy metal legends AC/DC, was know for the powerhouse riffs and rhythm guitar that vaulted the group from Australia, to superstardom. Young had been suffering from dementia.

Young started the band with his brother Angus Young in 1973, and they were known for epic smash hits all us 70s children know by heart: “Back in Black,” “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Let There Be Rock.”

Now, these musicians for the ages are putting on quite a show for the angels.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» TODD SMITH is co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Deane | Smith, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm – based in Nashville, Tenn. – is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, follow him @spinsurgeon and like the ageny on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deanesmithpartners, and join us on LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/company/deane-smith-&-partners.

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