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Good News For Retailers Around the World this Holiday Season, According to American Express Global Shopping Monitor

Average Shopper Expected to Spend $1,180 This Season, $755 on Gifts

NEW YORK, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- With early reports predicting healthy holiday sales increases for retailers this season, a holiday shopping survey from American Express found that globally consumers are in the giving spirit and ready to spend this year.

German wunderkinder will welcome the computers and software that are wrapped for them this holiday season. Generous Canadians will splurge on special gifts for their spouses. People from Hong Kong will hit the highways for the holidays -- although they won't spend as much on holiday travel this year as last year. Meanwhile, Americans will draft the longest shopping lists while Brazilians will ring up the largest bills. Around the world this holiday season, shoppers and merchants alike will experience the joy of giving and receiving.

These are just a few of the findings from the American Express Global Holiday Shopping Monitor, a survey of over 3,000 consumers from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, and the United States. The survey, conducted this fall by ICR Survey Research Group of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, surveyed consumers about their shopping and travel plans for the 1996 holiday season.

Eighty-five percent of all consumers surveyed say they expect to purchase gifts for at least one person this holiday season. Brazil tops the list with 98% of all respondents intending to buy gifts, followed by Americans at 90%. Holiday cheer will fill Canadians, too, with 89% planning to shop for others. Here are the percentages by nationality of those making a list and checking it twice this holiday season:
 Country Percentage planning to purchase
 gifts this holiday season
 Brazil 98%
 Canada 89%
 Germany 81%
 Hong Kong 67%
 United States 90%

Holiday Shoppers Expect to Spend Generously

According to the American Express Global Holiday Shopping Monitor, which analyzed consumer spending trends in retail, the average shopper in the five countries sampled this holiday season will spend about $1,180. "Canadians will budget more conservatively, spending $929 on average, while Brazilians will be a bit more generous at an average of $1,340 -- perhaps reflecting a stronger economy this year as compared to last year," said John Elliott, head of American Express' International Establishment Services Group. "The average German will spend approximately $1,300 this year, followed by shoppers from Hong Kong ($1,180) and the U.S. ($1,156)," he continued.

Approximately ten percent of shoppers surveyed from Hong Kong, the U.S. and Germany will spend more than $2,500 this holiday season while a significant number of respondents say they will spend under $300 for the holidays -- as much as 23% in Hong Kong, 17% in Brazil, and 15% in Canada. Here are how the highs and lows compared across the globe:
 Country Percentage Spending: $1-$299 $2,500 or More
 Brazil 17% 6%
 Canada 15% 4%
 Germany 5% 9%
 Hong Kong 23% 10%
 United States 8% 9%

Nearly two out of five respondents (39%) plan to splurge on someone special this holiday season. The lucky recipients of this largesse will most likely be spouses and domestic partners (33%), followed by sons and daughters (28%), boyfriends and girlfriends (13%), parents (8%) and friends (4%). Perhaps sibling rivalry explains why splurgers won't be splurging on brothers and sisters (2%).

One word of advice to gift recipients: don't judge the gift by its wrapping since at least one in three of those surveyed in each country said they do not plan to buy decorations, cards or gift wrap this year.

Where Will They Shop This Holiday Season?

Perhaps not surprisingly, department stores are the number one place to shop for holiday gifts according to 78 percent of consumers surveyed, followed by clothing stores (59%). "While only one in four Germans (27%) will shop at discount stores," observed Elliott, "it is interesting to note that one out of every two (49%) consumers surveyed across all five countries intends to shop at a discount department store this year. Shoppers around the world are becoming increasingly savvy."

Specialty stores will also be popular haunts for gift-givers this year. Leading the way to food and candy stores will be German gourmands (50%) whereas only 6 percent of Brazilians will do so, opting instead to visit toy stores (45%). Canadians will browse at bookstores (63%) and Americans will charge away at electronics stores (45%). Here's a sample of where surveyed shoppers are plotting their shopping courses this year:
 Type of Store Brazil Canada Germany Honk Kong United States
 Department 49% 90% 79% 85% 88%
 Discount 41% 59% 27% 35% 85%
 Clothing 55% 76% 51% 34% 80%
 Jewelry 13% 37% 35% 25% 37%
 Sports 8% 37% 26% 12% 37%
 Toy 45% 56% 47% 31% 63%
 Book 12% 63% 55% 23% 58%
 Electronics 24% 42% 35% 19% 45%
 Food 6% 30% 50% 27% 36%
 Music 31% 66% 13% 16% 62%

When Will They Buy?

Americans have taken an early shopping lead this holiday season with nearly one in three (29%) saying that they began shopping for gifts before October 1st. By and large, however, most shoppers will not finish their gift- buying until December. In fact, two out of three shoppers (68%) do not intend to finish shopping until sometime in December. Compared to last year, 42 percent of Brazilians say they will finish shopping earlier, followed by Americans (24%), Canadians (20%), Germans (20%) and those from Hong Kong (12%).

Who Will Get What?

Look out loved ones! The Global Holiday Shopping Monitor found the primacy of family will reign the world over this holiday season, with 95 percent of respondents planning to shop for relatives versus friends (41%) or colleagues (15%). Americans may have the longest shopping lists this year with the average shopper planing to purchase approximately fifteen gifts while those from Hong Kong will purchase approximately six gifts.

Canadians will be most generous with friends, purchasing an average of three to four gifts for friends as compared to Brazilians who will only purchase one gift on average. At the office, Canadians will also be at the lead in gift-giving -- giving approximately 3 gifts to colleagues during the holidays -- while Germans will be unlikely to give colleagues any gifts at all. Here's the average number of gifts respondents will be giving to family, friends and colleagues:
 Country Gifts for Family Gifts for Friends Gifts for Colleagues
 Brazil 7.7 1.1 0.4
 Canada 9.1 3.5 2.8
 Germany 6.3 1.3 *
 Hong Kong 3.7 2.2 1.0
 United States 11.9 2.0 1.0

What's Hot?

According to those shoppers surveyed, top gift items this year will include clothing (68%), toys (60%), music and movies (54%), and perfumes, colognes and cosmetics (53%). Interestingly, in the United States two thirds of shoppers surveyed (69%) intend to give cash, checks or gift certificates like the American Express Gift Cheque.

What will some of the more popular toys and electronics be this year? Educational toys (76%), books (63%), board games and puzzles (55%), and children's videos and music (49%) top toy-shoppers' lists. "Judging by Global Holiday Shopping Monitor findings," said Elliott, "movie-related marketing appears most successful in the U.S., where one in three (35%) of toy buyers will purchase movie-inspired toys as compared to 28% in Canada, 26% in Brazil, 15% in Hong Kong, and 10% in Germany."

For more adult tastes, small personal and household appliances (44%), such as irons, blenders and radios, top the list of electronics shoppers will buy this year. Judging by survey findings, carolers may be drowned out this year by stereo music since nearly one-third of electronics shoppers plan to give CD players (34%) and Walkmen stereos (31%). And one out of five electronics purchasers (21%) will surprise a friend or family member with video game (21%) this year.

Over the River and Through the Woods

Travel will be an integral part of holiday expenses this year for one out of four (25%) of those surveyed. Those intending to spend the most on travel will be from Hong Kong -- $510 on average -- although they say this is less than they spent last year. Americans seem to believe there's no place like home for the holidays since they will be spending the least amount on holiday travel -- $90 on average. Here are how the holiday travel expenses compare around the globe:
 Country Average Dollar Amount Expected
 to Spend on Holiday Travel
 Brazil $220
 Canada $93
 Germany $110
 Hong Kong $510
 United States $90

Of those staying at home, it appears Germans will be most likely to entertain -- or at least spend the most doing so, with one out of three (31%) spending more than $200 on entertaining. They will be followed by hosts from Hong Kong (21%), the U.S. (20%), Canada (18%) and Brazil (12%).

And Stay Out of the Closet!

One last word of advice: don't look in the closets during the holiday season since two out of five consumers hide their gifts there. Other places to avoid -- or to snoop -- include the cellar or attic (9%), under the bed (8%), or in the car trunk (3%).

The American Express Global Holiday Shopping Monitor sample included 3,111 consumers in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong and the United States from September through October of this year. The sample definition was people who plan to purchase gifts or holiday items for the upcoming holiday season, which ranges from December through February. In order to participate, respondents had to plan to purchase at least one gift for the 1996 holiday season.

American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Express Company -- a diversified worldwide travel and financial services company founded in 1850. It provides card, Travelers Cheque, travel and financial services in over 160 countries.

SOURCE American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
 -0- 11/19/96

/CONTACT: Toby Usnik, 212-640-2474 or, or Elisabeth Coleman, 212-640-1332 or, both of American Express/

CO: American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. ST: New York IN: REA SU:

DC-SH -- NYTU098 -- 4047 11/19/96 13:55 EST
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 19, 1996
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