Retailers are now concentrating all of their efforts into the next big shopping season – Christmas.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), nearly seven of 10 retailers expect an increase of 15% or more in online shopping, and those retailers are taking advantage of the trend by offering special sales promotions like free shipping and discounted online-only purchases. Retailers are also gearing up their marketing push through tablet device apps, email notices to customers and mobile-optimized websites.

TUTORIAL: Economics Indicators: Retail Sales Reports

Despite all the sales advertisements, come-on gimmicks and snappy commercials, it can still be a challenge to select just the right gift. That said, here are five tried-and-true gift ideas for the men in your life:

Electronics
This year, consumer electronics will account for a third of all holiday gift purchases, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, which recently held its annual industry forum in San Diego. In fact, the CEA reports that consumers plan to spend an average of $246 on electronic gifts this season. Topping the wish-list are computing products, iPods, iPhones, tablets and e-readers. Who are the top users of electronic gadgetry? You guessed it – men.

Video Games
The demand for video games has not waned over the years. Electronic Arts, which publishes games for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft consoles, is upbeat about the release of several new titles for the holiday season: "Battlefield 3," "Need for Speed: The Run," and "Sims Pet." But it is counting on a late sales surge with its scheduled Dec. 20 release of the widely anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing game "Star Wars: The Old Republic." In 2010, Americans spent $15 billion on video games, and retailers are expecting a similar response this time around. According to research from the Pew Internet Project, more than half of adults (53%) 18 and older play video games, and more than one in five (21%) play every day.

Gift Cards

Maybe it's an easy way out for the hard-to-please man, but PriceGrabber found that 52% of surveyed consumers expect to purchase gift cards for the holiday season, for everything from the above-mentioned electronics and video games to apparel and home improvement items. Also on the list for men are gift cards for digital music and e-books.

Sporting Goods
The National Sporting Goods Association showed a $53.7 billion market in 2010, with athletic and sports equipment gobbling up the biggest chunk of change with $26 billion. In that segment, exercise equipment, hunting and firearms products and golf equipment were the biggest sellers. Sporting footwear and apparel totaled $17.5 billion and $10.2 billion, respectively. Retailers of sporting goods are expecting moderate growth in sales, but the current National Basketball League lockout – and subsequent cancellation of games through November, has retailers scrambling to ramp up supplies of NCAA items (in the event of canceled pro season). Hoops fans, however, could score big on snagging their favorite jerseys and team hats if retailers end up slashing prices due to too much supply and not enough demand. (For an in-depth look at S&D, read Why We Splurge When Times Are Good.)

Unique Gifts
Sure, you can pick up a nice sweater or bathrobe, but why not be different? Men's Health magazine listed several unique gift ideas for the man in your life that are sure to please. For the man who has high-tech toys in the home, try a pair of Oakley HD Optics 3D lenses ($120) which will offer an enhanced viewing experience. A leather beer holster ($50) will come in handy when outdoors or at the game. Maybe he's been wishing for a new barbecue grill or some cool accessories. A rotisserie attachment, clip-on light (for evening grilling), grilling tool set or an extra butane tank (so he'll never run out of fuel) are the way to go.



The Bottom Line
You needn't look too hard to find the ideal holiday gift for the man or men in your life. The best part is men may like little surprises here and there, but when it comes to big-ticket items, they'd much rather receive something they know they'll like.

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