Holiday Shopping 2005

With the average consumer expected to spend $1,000 this holiday season, luxury goods and consumer technology items like digital cameras and the iDog are the hot items. For the first time ever, women are expected to outspend men in the $122 billion consumer electronics market, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Dell has begun advertising in Ladies Home Journal, and Best Buy has created a new campaign to cater to the rushed woman who does most of the shopping for her family. They call her "Jill." She will be greeted by newly trained personal shopping assistants who are dressed in pastels and carry pink parasols -- in case Jill needs help getting to and from her car in the rain. Best Buy also offers an expanded play area for her children and even plays female friendly music over the store's loudspeakers.

Macy's said items like cashmere sweaters, watches with diamond-studded bezels, and embellished handbags were selling well this season. The flagship Macy's is offering 40 percent off on sweaters and 50 percent off of jewelry. Also, the Gap is offering some deep discounts on items like jeans, which can be purchased for as low as $19.99.

In fact, the National Retail Federation estimates that the total holiday retail sales are expected to increase by 6 percent. Consumers are showing more confidence and are expected to spend more because of falling gas prices and newly created jobs.

Jennifer Openshaw, the chief executive officer of Family Financial Network and the host of ABC Radio's "Winning Advice," offered some tips to get the best deals on the best gifts this holiday season.

Openshaw said that tech gifts were good for the whole family and were getting more affordable. For instance, digital cameras are falling in price. Big-screen TVs cost $1,500. Openshaw said wait until next year when they should come down to about $1,000.

Openshaw's Tips:

Ask about the delivery date and make sure that all gifts will arrive before the holidays.

Ask about the shipping fee -- 80 percent of online retailers say they're shipping gifts with no charge this season.

Ask about return fee -- just because shipping is free, does not mean returns are free.

Frequent-flier gifts -- purchase gifts through your airline frequent-flier program.

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