More Consumers Plan Independence Day Celebrations: NRF

WASHINGTON -- Americans are planning to head out and celebrate this July 4th holiday, not letting record high prices at the pumps affect their festivities, according to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2006 Independence Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. Of particular importance to supermarket operators, an increased number of people will be barbecuing or cooking out.

The majority of consumers polled by NRF (87.2 percent) said they plan to celebrate Independence Day this year. Despite having to dig deeper into their wallets to fill up their gas tanks, more than one-half of consumers polled (53.2 percent) said that increased gas prices will not impact their holiday spending.

"For many, the 4th of July is the most anticipated celebration of the summer," noted Tracy Mullin, president and c.e.o. of NRF. "Consumers are as eager to hit their favorite stores for specials and promotions as they are to head outside and celebrate the holiday with family and friends."

This year an increased number of people will be barbecuing or cooking out (60 percent vs. 48.8 percent in 2005) for the July 4th holiday. In addition, 91.1 million people will celebrate with fireworks or a community celebration, up from 77.7 million in 2005, and 22.9 million people plan to travel or take a vacation this Independence Day, up from 18.6 million in 2005.

"High prices at the pumps aren't slowing down consumers this Independence Day," said Phil Rist, v.p. of strategy at BIGresearch. "Rather than take a long trip over the holiday weekend, many people are opting to stay close to home, celebrating with neighborhood picnics, barbeques, and fireworks."

In anticipation of the impending holiday, many retailers will be stocking their shelves with plenty of red, white, and blue merchandise. According to the survey, 25.0 million consumers plan to purchase patriotic goods this month and more than a quarter (28.4 percent) of those polled plan to take advantage of special sales and promotions during the extended July 4th holiday weekend as well. Popular shopping destinations include discount stores (39.8 percent), department stores (34.5 percent), online (14.6 percent) specialty stores, such as greeting card/gift stores and electronics stores (12.6 percent), and specialty clothing stores (10.2 percent).
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