Home Products a Bright Spot in Gloomy Shopping Season

Products related to the heart and home — from lockets and pajamas to DVD players and kitchen appliances — are selling well amid what is otherwise expected to be the weakest holiday season in a decade.

Although huge amounts of marked-down goods are languishing on shelves, certain items have had appeal among people who are re-evaluating priorities and spending more time at home in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

"I am trying to spend more time with my family," David Conti, 41, of Boxford, Mass., who has cut back on holiday spending by $300 to $700 but is buying DVDs for his children and regional Italian cookbooks and kitchen appliances for himself because he is cooking more and dining out less.

Wal-Mart has seen sales of pajamas and chicken roasters double from a year ago. Game consoles and other home electronics are doing well, along with arts and crafts, said spokesman Tom Williams.

Amazon.com expects to sell 100,000 DVD players, more than double last year's total. And its sales of George Foreman and Weber grills are expected to triple to 45,000.

Sales of fitness and game equipment are up triple-digits at Sears.com from a year ago, said Chuck Cebuhar, vice president. Sales of housewares have more than doubled.

The terrorist attacks and the recession have led many shoppers to pull back on their spending, particularly on clothes and jewelry.

Even in the jewelry business, though, there have been some bright spots. Jewelry e-tailer Bluenile.com said lockets, priced from $50 to $300, are among its top sellers. Diamond sales, including engagement rings, are up 25 percent.

"Consumers are looking for something sentimental, things that make you feel good," said Sue Bell, Bluenile vice president of marketing.