The holiday season makes November a vibrant and fast-paced time of year for retailers everywhere. But a number of marquee events this year made last month a November to remember for the industry. The next chapter of the battle against debit card swipe fees unfolded as NRF and more than a dozen of the nation’s most prominent retailers asked a U.S. District Court judge to reject a proposed class-action settlement. Following preliminary approval, the Federation continues to consult with legal experts to ensure this one-size-fits-all solution is not enforced onto a wildly diverse group of merchants. The ruling was passed down not long after the conclusion of the Presidential and Congressional elections, but it didn’t take long for conversation to quickly refocus on the need for elected officials to address ongoing economic uncertainty. A new White House report said retailers and their customers are among those likely to be hardest hit if middle class tax cuts are allowed to expire, but NRF urged lawmakers not to “cherry pick” in their attempts to fix the pending fiscal cliff. The month was also marked with stories of the ongoing recovery process for thousands of families and businesses along the East Coast in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. But these events are just a sample of the big stories in the industry last month. Read on for a full look at what retailers were talking about in November.
- NRF’s Holiday Headquarters was the most visited page throughout the month. Holiday HQ is a one-stop shop for all things holiday, putting the latest press releases, surveys, blog posts, and much more at your fingertips. Tips for budget-savvy shopping and the most frequently asked holiday questions are a few of the extra areas covered.
- The only resource hotter than the Black Friday weekend outlook was Black Friday weekend results released Sunday afternoon. The survey found that Black Friday weekend promotions enticed 247 million shoppers to visit stores and websites over the four-day span, a new record for the survey. A big trend – and growing tradition – this year was the number of shoppers who shopped Thanksgiving night. More than 35 million Americans visited stores and retailers’ websites on Thursday alone, up from 28 million in 2011.
- NRF’s Holiday Survival Kit in an interactive flip book format earned a top spot in the what’s hot list for the second straight month. This free, easy-to-read guide contains various historical data points – including holiday sales by sector and seasonal hiring statistics- as well as new research which examines the impact of the Presidential election and economic uncertainties on consumer confidence entering the holiday season.
- Enthusiasts were also tuned in to NRF’s second holiday consumer survey. Over half of Americans said they had already started making a dent in their holiday gift lists by early November, with fashion and apparel items and gift cards coming out on top as the most sought after gifts this season. Plans for discretionary spending are expected to be slightly higher in 2012, and more are eying the gift of jewelry than in years past. Slightly less than one quarter (22.5 percent) of shoppers will surprise friends and loved ones with jewelry, the highest amount since 2007.
- NRF’s announcement of the holiday’s hottest choices for gift cards rounds out the top five most clicked. Over 80 percent of Americans said they will purchase at least one gift card, with the 2012 average spend expected to reach $156 – a new high for the survey’s 10-year history. Department store and restaurant gift cards will be the most popular, and don’t overlook the growing popularity of mobile gift cards this year and in the years to come.
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Top retail news stories in NRF SmartBrief: