Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire and Zellers preferred holiday stores for Canadian shoppers

    Maritz Research indicates that after price, customer experience is the
    primary driver for Canadian shoppers

    TORONTO, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - This year most Canadians say they plan to do
their holiday shopping at Wal-Mart (68 per cent), Canadian Tire (54 per cent)
and Zellers (48 per cent). And overall, Canadians plan to spend $724 per
shopper, according to the recent holiday retail survey conducted by Maritz
Research, released today.
    More than two thousand people responded to the online survey and they
were very clear about where they planned to shop and why. The winning holiday
shopping differentiators were retailers' sales and special holiday offers (45
per cent), more store associates (30 per cent) and increasing holiday store
hours (9 per cent).
    "As retailers compete for holiday spending this year, it's clear that
convenience is top of mind for shoppers," said Robert Daniel, President -
Managing Director Maritz Research, Canada. "Stores such as Wal-Mart and
Zellers continuously lead the holiday shopping lists by enhancing the customer
experience through convenience and 'one-stop shopping'." Daniel added that
"having available, knowledgeable store associates is also very important to
Canadians and may be a major challenge for some retailers that need to improve
customer experiences."

           Store         Percentage of Respondents       Average Holiday
                           Planning to Shop at the      Spending Per Store
                              Store During the
                               Holiday Season
          Wal-Mart              68 per cent                   $178
        Canadian Tire           54 per cent                   $113
           Zellers              48 per cent                   $134
         Sears Canada           37 per cent                   $144
         Future Shop            34 per cent                   $156
        Chapters/Indigo         28 per cent                    $79
           The Bay              24 per cent                   $149
       Shoppers Drug Mart       21 per cent                    $70
           Best Buy             19 per cent                   $135
         The Body Shop          18 per cent                    $58

    How much will Canadians spend?

    According to Maritz Research, Canadians will spend an average of $724
dollars per shopper on gifts from retailers this holiday season, allotting an
average of $100 or less on purchases at each retailer. Holt Renfrew shoppers
are notably different, planning to spend more than $400 at the store.
Households with incomes of $35-$75K will likely spend money at discount and
home improvement stores such as Wal-Mart and Rona, while households earning
$75K+ will shop at electronic, department and specialty stores such as Future
Shop, Holt Renfrew and The Body Shop.
    Across Canada, Prairie shoppers say they plan to spend most on holiday
shopping ($1016) while Quebeckers will spend the least ($538).

    TOTAL        BC       Alberta   Prairies    Ontario    Quebec    Atlantic
     $724       $656       $825      $1016       $767       $538       $818

    "Quebec residents traditionally spend less on gifts, preferring less
material celebrations focused on family, friends and fine meals," said Daniel.
"In the Prairies and the Atlantic region, the higher spend likely reflects the
recent economic prosperity these regions are enjoying relative to more
challenging holiday seasons in the past."

    Women seek savings, men seek convenience.

    When asked what would improve the holiday shopping experience, 49 per
cent of women compared to 41 per cent of men reported sales and special
offers. The Maritz Research survey disclosed that over the holidays men want
to spend more money in home improvement and electronic stores while women are
more likely to spend money in discount, specialty and department stores. Men
reported that they expect to spend more money this season while women plan to
spend about 10 per cent less than last year.

    Where are the toys made?

    Not surprisingly, children across Canada will be thrilled to find toys
under the tree with half (51 per cent) of all respondents indicating they
would be making toy purchases this holiday season. Approximately 87 per cent
of Canadian toy buyers are aware of recent Made in China toy recalls and 71
per cent of these respondents indicate it will affect their holiday shopping
this year.
    "The survey shows that Canadians are acutely interested and reactive to
product safety concerns affecting children this time of year, suggesting that
retailers should look for opportunities to reassure their customers as another
experience enhancer," said Daniel. He goes onto say that retailers can improve
the customer experience in the toy aisle this holiday season by:
    -  Informing store associates about the recalls and training them to
       address questions and concerns from customers.
    -  Creating signage to assure customers that shelves are regularly
       inspected to ensure toy aisles are "recall-free."
    -  Keeping an updated list of toy recalls on hand for store associates to
       use as a reference.

    This online Maritz Poll, which was conducted in October 2007, featured
responses from 2,126 randomly selected adults from an Internet panel survey on
topics related to holiday shopping, buying behaviors and gift-giving trends.
To ensure the data was representative of the Canadian population, data was
weighted to Statistics Canada data for several demographic categories
including gender, province and age. Margin of error for the overall poll is
+/- 2.13 per cent.

    About Maritz Research

    As one of the world's largest marketing research firms, Maritz Research
helps many of today's most successful companies improve performance through a
deep understanding of their customers, employees and channel partners. Founded
in 1973, it offers a range of strategic and tactical solutions concentrating
primarily in the automotive, financial services, hospitality, pharmaceutical,
telecommunications, retail, workplace and technology industries. The company
is a member of the Canadian Marketing Association, the Market Research and
Intelligence Association, ESOMAR, the Market Research Society, CASRO, the
Conference Board, and the American Marketing Association.
    Maritz Research Canada and its sister firm, Maritz Canada, are units of
Maritz, a sales and marketing services company, which helps organizations
achieve their full potential through understanding, enabling, and motivating
employees, channel partners, and customers. In addition to market and customer
research, Maritz provides communications, learning solutions, incentive
initiatives, meetings and event management, rewards and recognition, travel
management services, and customer loyalty programs.

For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Alsop-Lee/Lisa Mills, Media Profile,
(416) 504-8464, jennifer@mediaprofile.com/mills@mediaprofile.com

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