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Shoppers are looking for memories

When discussing holiday gift-giving, Trish Sexton of Levittown sounds a little like a Hallmark card.

"It's really about making memories," said Sexton, a court reporter, as she rolled through a bustling shopping center. "As opposed to a pile of clothes that they're not going to wear next year, you never outgrow your memories."

Sexton is putting her words into practice. This Christmas, she's giving her teenage daughters and 12-year-old son tickets for pop star Taylor Swift at Lincoln Financial Field next summer and tickets to see the Broadway show "Stomp" this month at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia.

"This is the first year that I am going with experiences rather than just material items," Sexton said. "We'll see how it goes."

Just as retailers scramble to offer the best in-store experience to attract customers, about 40 percent of shoppers this holiday season plan to give "experiences," according to a survey this month by the NPD Group, a global research firm.

Chalk it up to consumers wanting to be more adventurous, or memorable, but "experiential gift-giving" is "in" this year.

Food, including dinners and wine tastings, topped the NPD survey list, with tickets to events coming in second. Next were spa certificates, travel, interactive experiences (like murder-mystery dinners), gym memberships, sightseeing tours, and adventure and educational experiences, according to the firm's 2017 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey.

"Giving an intangible gift, an experience, can be more personal and more memorable for the gift recipient, and in many ways easier for the gift-giver, making them an ideal holiday gift solution for many consumers," Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD, said in a statement.

Also, 7 percent of shoppers plan to buy a subscription box or service. In this category, food subscriptions ranked highest, followed by beverages, electronics, health and fitness, fashion, and beauty and grooming subscriptions.

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