The NPD Group offers holiday gift guidance

Practical gifts -- such as tools -- have a built-in advantage during gift-giving season, particularly during a challenging economy, said Mark Delaney, director of The NPD Group's home division.

“In a challenging economy, where gifts are becoming more practical in nature, these categories are always welcome and useful gifts, whether wives splurge on gifts for their spouses, or parents are filling some gaps in their tool chest,” Delaney added. According to NPD Research, that seems to be the way the holidays played out last year.

The top five home improvement-related categories purchased as a gift in the fourth quarter of 2009 were: drills, screwdrivers, barbecue grills, wrenches and measuring tools.

“The youngest consumer, purchasing their first home, needs many of the basics, and this provides great gift opportunities for family members,” Delaney said.

Barbecue grills and drills brought in the highest dollar share, both of which gained unit and dollar share consistently over the past three years.

Other data from past seasons that could reflect on the current holiday season include:

• Consumers ages 18 to 34 represented one-third of barbecue grills and power tools gift purchasers in fourth quarter of 2009, while hand tools are driven by the 54-to-64 age group. • Not surprisingly, more than one-third of barbecue grills purchased as gifts in the fourth quarter of 2009 came from the South. However, the region also accounted for 36% of the hand tool and 43% of the power tool gift purchases between October and December 2009. • Hand tool and power tool gift purchases are primarily driven by female consumers in the fourth quarter, with barbecues split down the middle.

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