Grandparent Marketing Group Believes Grandparents Will Save Christmas This Year - 78 Million Grands Could Rescue Grandchildren From Recession's Clutches

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According to Grandparent Marketing Group, although retailers are sounding like the Grinch has already stolen Christmas '08, stores haven't reckoned on the deep-pocket power of grandparents.

Although retailers are sounding like the Grinch has already stolen Christmas '08 - with holiday spending expected at a 10-year low, according to a recent Gallup poll - stores haven't reckoned on the deep-pocket power of grandparents.

"They are the one group that can virtually guarantee a holly jolly Christmas for youngsters," according to David Levy, president of Grandparent Marketing Group, a Seattle firm specializing in reaching the demographic.

Despite the downturn, the current crop of grandparents, 78-million strong, remains richer and more involved in their grandchildren's lives than any previous generation. "Grandparents will do almost anything for their grandchildren: buying, spoiling, and coddling in ways they didn't - or couldn't - for their own children," Levy said. "Grandparents are looser attitudinally, as well as with their purse strings."

He adds that grandparents spend over $50 billion dollars a year on gifts for their grandchildren, the majority of which pours out at holiday time. "One-third of all grandparents spend $2,500 per year on the apples of their eye, and we predict the figure could be even higher this year."

Yvonne Shaw of Waianae, HI, is buying "books, books and more books," for her eight grandchildren. "They're coming out of the toy stage and I want to give them the books I loved as a kid, something to remember their tutu by," she said. Grandparents account for 40% of all children's book purchases sold in America, according to a survey of children's booksellers.

Hipper, younger grandparents now buy more than 1 in 5 of all video games. Gerry DeResta, 57, of Boca Raton, FL, is choosing family-oriented games for her grandchildren aged 6, 9 and 14. "I'm happy to spend money on the extras that maybe their parents can't afford this year," DeResta said. "But the games have to be nice ones - meaning I can play along with my grandkids!"

A Tyler, TX grandfather of 4 month-old Allison, Chip Fisher, said he had no qualms about spoiling her. "My wife is trying to hold me back but it's hopeless. I'm buying every toy I think Allison will love. I'm a madman."

Grandparent Marketing Group estimates that more than 25% of all toys are purchased by grandparents, and Levy expects that number to grow. "Especially as times get tougher, grands are the only group actually capable of stepping up and filling the gap. Young parents are strapped, worried, and will turn to the folks they've always turned to for a helping hand...their parents."

Founded in 2005, Grandparent Marketing Group's clients include Fisher-Price, Nintendo, and Sandvic, a Norway-based company that's the largest operator of children's book clubs in America; along with financial, pharmaceutical, and tourism accounts. GMG, with headquarters in Seattle, has offices in New York and Phoenix.


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Robert DiLallo
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