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While gadgets and electronics continue to be hot items year-on-year, there will be fewer large purchases this holiday, such as TVs and computers.  This is partly due to the fact that retailers will look to reduce the number of deep discounts – which severely damaged margins this time last year – along with the fact that customers will move towards needs over wants.

“This season there won’t be a “wow” factor in terms of sales,” said Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “Consumers have been so inundated with discounts for more than a year that it will be difficult for retailers to get shoppers excited about holiday promotions.”

However, one of the biggest gadget winners this holiday will be e-book readers, partly because the prices are being driven lower by competitors entering the market (e.g. iRex and Nook).  About 30 percent of all e-reader sales in 2009 are estimated to derive from the holiday period alone.

“Consumers will reduce spending on big ticket items,” said van Beeck.  “Instead, they’ll trade down towards trendy and cheaper gadgets like e-readers; iPod Nanos; Nintendo Wiis and other game consoles; Flip Video and small point-and-shoot digital cameras. This is where the real value will be for consumers this Christmas.”

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For the second year running, this will be a make or break holiday for retailers, as many cannot survive another season of suppressed sales.  With total gift sales forecasted to decline 2.6 percent this Christmas season, “necessity gift” like clothing will be the only growth category, according to industry research IBISWorld.

“Clothing is the only gift category to see growth this year because it serves a dual purpose,” said Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “Parents are using this Christmas season as an excuse to update their children’s wardrobes, still filling space under the tree and ultimately saving money in the long run.”

As the biggest retail category, clothing represents 18.6 percent of total Christmas gift sales in 2009, at $81.91 billion.  Discount and convenient retailers like Zappos and Kohl’s will continue to see strong sales volumes, as consumers move away from higher-end goods to more value-added purchases.

However, brand name products and celebrity labels are going to fare poorly this year, while basic clothing items are expected to perform well.  Overall, clothes are expected to rebound from their dismal performance a year ago – which was among the worst Christmas retailing seasons this century.

Reese Witherspoon hits SATINE for some shopping.  She purchased the Rebecca Minkoff Brown Croc Clutch ($340).

If you have specific gifts on your holiday list this year, you may want to get a jump start on your shopping, according to industry research firm IBISWorld. 

“Consumers have become accustomed to sales and deep discounts during the past year, but retailers have low inventory levels this season and will try to keep prices high,” said van Beeck. “Shoppers will need to purchase before the stores run out if they have specific items on their gift lists.”

Yet, if retailers try to avoid discounting key goods for too long, it could spell disaster. People do not have the disposable income and will look elsewhere for their gifts, making the competition fierce and pricing crucial this year.

Total retail sales on the traditional Black Friday weekend are expected to increase 2.8 percent from last year, totalling $42.9 billion. With 76.9 million people estimated to swarm into retail stores on Black Friday alone, shoppers are expected to take advantage of this day to ensure they get all the items on their gift lists.

asparagus_mainThe “negative calorie” food list is in high demand, but what are they and how do they work?  Don’t be fooled by the name, these foods aren’t really zero calories.  They get their name from the fact that your body burns more calories to digest the food then they actually contain:

– Asparagus      
– Apple       
– Beet        
– Cranberries
– Broccoli          
– Grapefruit      
– Cabbage          
– Lemons
– Carrot            
– Mango        
– Cauliflower      
– Orange
– Celery            
– Papaya        
– Chili Peppers    
– Pineapple    
– Cucumber        
– Raspberries    
– Strawberries   
– Endive
– Tangerine       
– Garlic   
– Green Beans   
– Lettuce  
– Onion        
– Radishes   
– Spinach    
– Turnip       
– Zucchini

The trick is to eat the foods plain, without dressings, butter, dips or sugar. The foods have a high fiber content and fill you up quickly, but be sure to watch portion sizes and keep bread, pasta and protein in moderation.  If you do these things, you’re not dieting…you’re eating healthy.

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