Consumer spending this holiday season has risen 5 percent compared to last year. Christmas shoppers will spend an average of $607.01 for gifts, compared to $580.56 in 2005.

According to BIGresearch, shoppers will spend $454 on presents for their families, compared to $86.13 and $22.29 for their friends and coworkers, respectively.

The increase is “because we don’t have $3 gasoline,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy at BIGresearch. “And because we don’t have the fear that we had last year about winter heating bills going through the roof.”

The following is a break down, from candy canes to Christmas cards:

  • The average household will spend $47.14 for decorations, said BIGresearch.
  • According to the Greeting Card Association, the U.S. Postal Service will deliver about 2 billion cards. And as for the senders, BIGresearch estimates they’ll spend $30.77 each (not including postage) for cards this year.
  • If BIGresearch’s predictions are correct, shoppers will spend an average of $19.11 each for flowers. Poinsettias make up 83 percent of the holiday season’s floral purchases, according to the Society of American Florists.
  • Candy canes remain the confection of choice at Christmas, which explains why more than 1.8 billion will be made this season, said the National Confectioners Association.
  • According to BIGresearch’s predictions, about 40 percent of celebrators are hoping for some sort of electronic gadget this Christmas. MP3 players top the list, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.
  • Americans plan to buy 31 million real Christmas trees this year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

Demand for expensive jeans on the rise

Looking for a great $20 pair of jeans? Good luck.

With custom fitting, exquisite detail and fancy embellishments, denim makers are sending prices off the charts.

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During 2005, the number of premium pairs sold doubled compared to the previous year, and during the first eight months of this year, sales have risen 33 percent, according to a report put out by NPD.

Popular brands such as Rock and Republic and 7 for All Mankind start at about $150 a pair. But, premium denim jeans (those that cost $60 or more), while only claiming a small share of the jeans market, have experienced the fastest sales growth during the past several years.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most valuable jeans are a 155-year-old pair of Levis 501, bought by an anonymous bidder on eBay for $60,000 in 2005.

Newer jeans with rivets and rhinestones are coveted perhaps as much as the vintage jeans. Department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue have seen an increase in the sales of Roberto Cavalli’s premium denim (price tag: $1,185), a favorite of celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce Knowles, as well as $500 pairs made by Luxirie for LRG, which are decorated with Swarovski crystals.

Some companies have introduced premium lines of hand-dyed “selvege” denim, made on looms that produce a tighter weave and heavier fabric. The $675 Diesel Denim Gallery jeans are sold in only three stores (two in New York, one in Japan) while PRPS sells its $475 jeans at Atrium in New York.

The man-hours and custom materials add to the price, such as the $4,000 APO jean.

Bridal boutique opens at The Broadmoor Hotel

Moving from its former location in Denver, de ma fille has set up shop at The Broadmoor Hotel.

Owner Meghann Hewitt and her mother, Linda Halbouty, opened the doors in October 2002. The name, loosely translated from French, means “of/for my daughter.”

In the short time the shop was located in Denver, the bridal boutique earned two awards — Best Bridal Salon in “Top of the Rockies” and “Best of Cherry Creek Fashion” — for superior fashion and service.

Black Forest Bison wins at Zest Fest

After winning another national championship, Black Forest Bison Co. of Colorado Springs is distancing itself from its competitors when it comes to making spicy jerky.

Competing at Zest Fest, “Best Jerky” Fiery Foods Challenge in Fort Worth, Black Forest Bison was among the golden chili pepper winners, taking first place with its Caliente Canyon spicy bison jerky and second place for its Double Black Diamond bison jerky.

The jerky is made from 100 percent grass-fed, all-natural bison meat.

Last year, the company’s Gunsmoke bison jerky won first place at the National Bison Association for best bison jerky.

Zpizza expanding Colorado franchises

Southern California-based gourmet pizza chain zpizza plans to open more than 100 stores by the end of 2007, and the company is looking at Colorado Springs because of the city’s recent No. 6 ranking in Men’s Fitness magazine’s annual Fittest Cities ranking.

“We feel like zpizza is a perfect match for Colorado and its residents,” said Chris Bright, zpizza president. “Locals in the state live healthy lifestyles and enjoy great food. Right now they are missing out by not having a zpizza near them.”

Zpizza has one franchise store in Denver and 60 locations nationwide.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.