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The 2018 holiday season is officially here, and you can bet your bottom dollar that consumers everywhere are preparing for it.

The question is: are you?

Whether you're in the business of customer loyalty, employee engagement, or member retention, the holidays represent a major opportunity to strengthen the relationships you value most.

Here at Access, we want to help you get ready. After all, 91% of consumers say they plan to "celebrate the season" this year, giving you a chance to fill a stocking with goodwill. Read on to learn more about how (and why) a little extra care and consideration can go a long way during the holidays.

Holiday Spending: Bigger Than Ever

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, people are feeling pressure to stay on top of their holiday shopping. 18% of U.S. consumers started their yuletide spending as early as September, with another 21% beginning before November and 60% before Thanksgiving.

There's no intention of slowing down the festive spending this year as retail holiday sales in the U.S. are predicted to grow between 4.3% and 4.8% over 2017, with Americans projected to spend up to $720.89 billion this year. Last year, 58 of the 60 shopping days in November and December resulted in over $1 billion sales ALONE.

It's no secret people are spending larger-than-usual sums of money to get ready for the holidays. So what exactly are they spending their hard earned dollars on this time of year?

Consumers plan to spend a total of $1,007 on average for items like decorations, candy and gifts. When buying gifts for others, the most popular purchases are gift cards/certificates (54%), clothing (53%), toys/games (46%), books (43%) and food/liquor (39%). And many consumers, 78% to be exact, are looking simply to shop for themselves. When they do treat themselves, 42% say they'll choose food/liquor, 40% clothing, 26% shoes, 22% books and 21% cosmetics/fragrances/health & beauty.

Perks, rewards and loyalty programs are becoming increasingly popular these days. It seems like they’re everywhere – coffee shops, restaurants, clothing stores, airports, colleges, theme parks, movie theaters, charities, employers etc.

Posted by Brandon Carter on Dec 26, 2017 8:37:00 AM

December is a fun time around Access. Holiday decorations are up (and a contest for best-decorated area is underway), employees are catching the spirit, and tons of gifts are arriving in our shipping department (not for us; we encourage employees to ship their gifts here to prevent doorstep theft and anxious kiddos spoiling surprises).

There’s still a lot of work to be done before we ring in 2018, of course. It’s just a little more relaxing to work while surrounded by giddy people and delicious baked goodies.

A big part of our collective cheer comes from reflecting on how far we’ve come over the past 12 months. While January seems like it was just a couple weeks ago, Access packed a lot of good stuff into 2017.

We’ve grown our client base, solidified relationships with current clients, expanded into new industries, helped members save a ton of money, and engaged with half a million people on our various blogs.

Oh, and we were also named the top midsize workplace in the state of Utah, along with four other workplace awards.

No wonder the year has gone by so quickly - we’ve stayed busy!

So yes – overall we were reasonably happy with how 2017 turned out. We hope this year has been fulfilling for your efforts also!

Here’s a breakdown of the big highlights from the Access year that was:

It is with extremely heavy hearts that we say goodbye to a dear friend and colleague. Dave Cook was an Access standard, serving as our Vice President of Corporate Sales for over 17 years. He passed last week after a car accident.

Dave was a classic salesman in every best aspect of the phrase. He was attentive, personal, comforting, and professional. He took care of clients and made sure important details were never overlooked. To his employees, he was both a mentor and a cheerleader.

Posted by Brandon Carter on Dec 27, 2016 9:34:00 AM

It's hard to believe that another year is already at an end, but the cold weather and snow outside our office are constant reminders that 2017 is just around the corner.

Looking back, 2016 was probably our best year ever. We know, it seems like we say that every year!

But it's true - Access Development experienced more growth and success than ever before. 2016 was just the latest in a steady upward trend for several years in a row now.

So what happened this year that's been so great? Here are just a few highlights from Access' 2016:

Posted by Brandon Carter on Aug 16, 2016 9:00:00 AM

"What exactly does Access Development do? Some kind of programming?"

With a name like Access Development, we get that question frequently. But most people quickly catch on that we're an engagement and loyalty company.

But then the followup question to that is, "Well, how exactly do you build engagement and loyalty?"

The answer is low-cost member benefits, employee perks, premium incentives, upsell packages, and so on.

We do our best to explain it, but sometimes these things need to be expressed in a story.

Which is why we've rolled out a new case study section on AccessDevelopment.com.