Thursday, November 22, 2001

Americans’ post-terrorist attack focus on security and staying close to home likely will resonate in gift giving this holiday season.
Items from home furnishings to high-tech entertainment are topping consumers’ wish lists.
High-tech toys, from DVD players, cell phones and computers to Xbox, GameCube and video games, are expected to be the top purchases this year, according to various holiday-shopping surveys conducted over the past several weeks.
“People are focusing on family and the home and they’re going to buy gifts that will enhance that experience,” said Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation.
“After [September] 11th, we expected people would hunker down doing everything from paying for Grandmom to visit to staying home in front of the television,” said Michael Shulman, managing director of research for ChangeWave Investment Research in Potomac. “It is clear that the emphasis is on the home and the family.”
The National Retail Federation is expecting a 2.5 percent increase for 2001 holiday spending, compared with a 3.9 percent increase in spending last year.
Consumers plan to spend an average of $940 per household on gifts for family and friends, decorations, greeting cards, and food and candy, according to a retail federation survey of 1,000 respondents in mid-October.
The International Mass Retail Association says consumers plan to spend an average of $863 per household up from $828 in 2000, according to a survey by the industry group.
However, the Conference Board, a private research firm, says holiday spending will be about 4 percent below last year’s projection. U.S. households will spend an average of $462 on gifts this Christmas.
Heather Driscoll of Fort Meade, Md., holiday shopping with her daughter last week at the Target store in Laurel, said she will spend about the same amount on gifts as she did last year.
“We always set a limit and we always go over,” she said.
The Christmas-shopping season officially begins tomorrow, but some consumers already have started their shopping, despite the mood of the country over the past two months.
The retail federation found about one-third of its survey respondents had started holiday shopping before the attacks or during September or October.
Mark Healy of Jessup tries to get his shopping done before Thanksgiving for fear of not finding the toys and gifts on his children’s wish lists. This year is no different, but he hasn’t had much luck finding everything.
With two Lego Bionicle sets tucked under his arm, he scoured the aisles of the Laurel Target in search of the Harry Potter castle set, but couldn’t find it there. It was the fourth store that had sold out of the item.
Harry Potter goodies, “Monster Inc.” figurines, XBox, GameCube and Leap Pad top some of the toy industry’s hot holiday gift lists.
Movies such as “Shrek,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Pearl Harbor” topped CDNow’s list of best sellers from Nov. 7 to yesterday.
Rescue Heroes Aquatic Rescue Command Center, listed on the “Hot Dozen” list put out by Toy Wishes magazine, has had a jump in sales since the September 11 attacks, said Jim Silver, co-publisher of the magazine. The firefighter figurines are virtually impossible to find.
“I can almost guarantee you that you will not be able to find [the Command Center] by December 1st,” Mr. Silver said.
Patriotic-themed gifts and purchases are expected for adults, too.
A tree at the front of Yestertimes, a Christmas-ornament store in Laurel Mall, is decked out patriotically from red, white and blue streamers to fire hats and heart-shaped “God Bless America” ornaments. A Santa figurine holding a flag and fireman’s hat ornaments are expected to be hot items this year.
“I really think [patriotic items] will be a large seller this year due to the crisis on September 11,” said store clerk William Powell.
Kiara McGlaughlin contributed to this article.

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