Summary: According to a poll conducted by America's Research Group, an unexpectedly high 89% of 1,000 respondents plan to shop at Wal-Mart this holiday season, apparently vindicating the company's aggressive price-cutting campaign. Same-store sales are thus expected to be up about 3.1%, flat with last year. The next survey will take place on "Black Friday," the first day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start to the holiday shopping season. Almost 95% of respondents said they would buy an expensive item on Black Friday if it were advertised as an "early-bird special" -- twice as many people as last year. This result suggests that consumers are watching advertising very closely, which should lead to a rehabilitation of the word "Christmas": as Wal-Mart learned last year, many shoppers want to be greeted with "Merry Christmas" rather than the more ecumenical "Happy Holidays" in ads and at stores. Meanwhile, the Gap, Motorola, Apple and other companies are seeing strong demand for their "Red" T-shirts, cellphones, iPods and so on, proceeds of which go to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa. The initiative has yet to do much for the companies' bottom lines, but that could change if production runs are sufficiently increased on the red items. Strong buzz about the campaign plus increased supply of red merchandise could drive holiday sales.
Related links: Commentary: Wal-Mart and Other Retailers Suffer Weak Sales in Run-Up to Holidays • Wal-Mart: October Same Store Sales Rose (Only) 0.5%, Lowest Since Dec. 2000
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Motorola, Inc. (MOT), The Gap, Inc. (NYSE:GPS), Apple Computer, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) • ETFs: Market 2000 HOLDRs (NYSEARCA:MKH), iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index (NYSEARCA:IWF), iShares Russell 3000 Growth Index (IWZ), PowerShares FTSE RAFI US 1000 (NYSEARCA:PRF)
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