Sears, Kmart Going Down To Wire, And Beyond

Sears and sibling chain Kmart are hoping to bring in a wave of last-minute Christmas shoppers -- which this year may mean just about everyone -- with a pair of programs touting gifts costing $25 and less. Kmart has launched a 64-hour sales event with 352 Kmart stores open for 64 consecutive hours. It began Dec. 22 at 6 a.m. and lasts until Dec. 24 at 10 p.m.

Jaclyn Smith/Kmart

Kmart has celebrities with their own Kmart products, such as TV home-makeover star Ty Pennington and actress Jaclyn Smith, touting their own "last-minute gift ideas." Pennington promotes an adjustable wrench set, or Element 2GB MP3 player, each at $25.

Sears is launching a "Gift Finder and Virtual Gifts Sweepstakes" where users can send friends and family a quiz by going to a microsite at or to Sears' Facebook site.



The effort, running through Dec. 28, lets people send "Sears Virtual Gifts" for the holidays through an application on Facebook. When one sends a Sears Virtual Gift, both sender and recipient can enter to win the actual gift from Sears. Ten pairs of prizes valued at over $24,000 will be given away, per the company.

Sears says that through Dec. 23, Sears stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and will also be open on Dec. 24 from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Now through Dec. 23 Kmart stores nationwide will be open from 6 a.m. until midnight and will be open on Dec. 24 from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Chicago market research firm Mintel says the $512 billion holiday shopping market has seen significant growth between 2003 and 2008, but has seen steep, recession-driven declines in 2008 and 2009 as the economy fell into a recession.

The firm says the market dropped 2.6% in 2008 and retail sales of holiday products are forecast to fall another 1.7% this year.

Mintel says budget shoppers are likely to do almost all their shopping at Walmart, while Target gets "cost-conscious design seekers" and that "its predominantly female orientation makes it a particularly strong retailer for holidays such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. Target's emphasis on décor makes it an ideal supplier for Halloween and Easter."

Macy's also benefits because of its strong association with holidays, thanks to the parades and other events it sponsors, per Mintel.

Last year, the research firm said, the most popular Christmas gifts were clothing (57%), books/DVDs (56%), gift cards/certificates (54%), toys (54%), and electronics (42%).

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