Holiday 2006: Will Bloomie's, Target and Lowe's Win?

Holiday, 2006: Will Bloomingdale's, Target and Lowe's be the big winners?

Get out your scorecards: 'Tis the season for multiple consumer predictions, all aimed at guessing where and why Americans will shop and how much they'll spend, as soon as they digest the turkey and pumpkin pie.

One of the most intriguing comes from Echelon Marketing Group, which analyzed proprietary information on more than $18 trillion in U.S. consumer assets from more than 200 markets, to come up with a list of the season's potential winners. It found that Bloomingdale's, Target and Lowe's "are the retailers best positioned to clean up this holiday season, because of their strong footprint in the nation's top 10 metropolitan markets in terms of spending capacity."

The markets Echelon analyzed have an estimated 44.3 percent of total U.S. retail spending potential, although approximately 29.8 percent of households reside within them. The top 10 markets for retail spending are unexpected: San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, San Diego, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, West Palm Beach, Fla., New York, Boston, Seattle/Tacoma, Chicago, Monterey/Salinas, Calif.



Bloomie's tops Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom and Macy's in average available discretionary spending for the areas around its stores. And, in Echelon's analysis, Target customers have on average an estimated 10 percent more available spending capacity than Wal-Mart customers.

As far as what consumers will buy once they get to the store, ad agencies aren't going to be very happy. A recent survey, conducted for the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) by BIGresearch, say that when it comes to electronics, word of mouth is a key driver of electronics purchases, with 41 percent of shoppers saying they were most influenced by what other people tell them regarding these products. And 33 percent of consumers say that articles and product reviews will influence their electronics purchases this holiday season. Only 27.7 percent say newspaper inserts influence their electronics purchases.

The survey also showed that consumers are heavily influenced by word of mouth when it comes to apparel purchases (31.4 percent). Newspaper inserts came next, with 27.8 percent, direct mail (21.9 percent), and coupons (20.7 percent) also shaping fashion choices.

Older adults continue to rely on traditional media like television, newspaper, and radio, while younger adults are more likely to engage in new types of media. According to the survey, 22.6 percent of the 18 to 35 group regularly uses Digital Video Recording, like TiVo, to record and replay their favorite television shows, often skipping commercials.

And for a warmer, cuddly thought, there's this from the National Retail Federation. The most-requested toy for boys is TMX Elmo, while Barbie is No. 1 for girls.

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