Holiday Shoppers to Buy More Books According to Retail Survey

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Good news continues to fill the cash registers of booksellers, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in the second installment of its 2003 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, published on November 17. The survey revealed that 60.8 of consumers intended to purchase books, CDs, and DVDs as a holiday gift. Only apparel -- at 62.2 percent.

The survey, conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the holiday season. NRF continues to project that holiday sales will increase 5.7 percent this year to $217.4 billion, which would be the largest increase since 1999. (To read about the first installment, click here.)

According to Ellen Tolley, the director of media relations for NRF, sales predictions are higher across the board this year over last year, "This is the second year we’ve been able to look specifically at different categories of purchases, as well as predictions by region, gender, and many other variables. NRF didn’t have the capability to do that previously. This survey polled 6,551 consumers from November 6 through November 12, 2003. (To see survey chart, click here.) We have every indication that people in general are buying more gifts than last year."

Asked about the reasons for the increased spending, Tolley listed some of the economic factors having an impact on consumer behavior: "Consumers feel better and are more comfortable this year -- they have more money because of the tax plan, mortgage refinancing, and the stock market. While NRF’s Holiday and Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, also conducted by BIGresearch, found that 52.7 percent of consumers hope to receive books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games, 60.8 percent in the most recent survey are planning to purchase books, CDs, etc." Both those numbers are higher than last year and both are positive indicators for retailers, Tolley noted.

Other noteworthy findings point to strong sales ahead this season: Only 6.7 percent of respondents nationwide said that they have completed 76 to 100 percent of their holiday shopping. Those who indicated that they have completed 10 percent or less of their holiday shopping comprise 64.9 percent of those polled. Some less surprising results reveal that this year, the most popular toys for boys will be cars and trucks, while Barbies will top the list for girls. The 6,500 consumers questioned in the survey, who responded using a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire to ensure greatest accuracy, named no runaway "hot toy." --Nomi Schwartz