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Staples Survey Finds 68 Percent Want Technology Gifts; Retailer Predicts Holiday 2003 Big Tech Sellers for Those Who are Technology 'Spaceships' or 'Station Wagons'

Friday, November 14, 2003 7:00 am EST

Dateline:

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.

Public Company Information:

NASDAQ:
SPLS
"Technology products have become more user-friendly and more affordable, which is a perfect fit for gift giving this holiday season"

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--According to a survey released today by Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), 68 percent of people would like to receive technology gifts this holiday season. As technology products become thinner, lighter and wireless, and cameras are built-in to everything from cell phones to PDAs, technology buffs and novices have become intrigued by "instant gratification" gadgets. Staples expects digital camera/photo printer bundles, handheld computers and anything wireless to be among the most popular instant gratification gift items this holiday season.

"Technology products have become more user-friendly and more affordable, which is a perfect fit for gift giving this holiday season," explained Shira Goodman, executive vice president of marketing at Staples. "The key to success this year is making it easy for shoppers to figure out the right gift for the people on their lists."

Staples is bringing to life its holiday advertising theme of "Easy To Buy. Sure To Please" with an interactive website tool at www.staples.com/youdecide that asks a series of simple questions about how various technology products will be used and then recommends the best fit. For example, the site asks "There are several ways you can input information into your PDA. Which data entry methods will you use?" This tool, as well as standard on-line comparison charts, can be accessed on-line or at Staples' in-store Access Point kiosks.

Selecting the right gift can be particularly difficult for shoppers who are "technologically challenged." When asked to compare their tech savvy to a relevant mode of transportation, 27 percent of the Staples survey respondents classified themselves as a "station wagon" and 13 percent considered themselves a "scooter."

"You can buy a Lexmark inkjet color printer this holiday season for less than $70 or what we believe is the hottest all-in-one machine - the HP Color 4-in-1 for only $299," Goodman explained. "Both are excellent values depending on who you're buying for and their printing needs."

The HP 2410 Color 4-in-1 is a printer, fax, scanner and copier with a color LCD screen that can print photo proof sheets and digital video clips - making it a space-saving, high function machine for a home office. Staples expects this to be the most popular all-in-one machine this holiday season - and a perfect gift for the technology "sports car," which was the most popular answer at 44 percent of survey respondents.

Digital cameras will likely be the single most popular technology gift category this holiday season at Staples. The company expects a dramatic increase in sales from Kodak and HP cameras packaged with docking stations, photo printers and rechargeable batteries. New printers like the HP PhotoSmart 7660 that print directly from the camera memory card and easily switch from 4"x6" format to letter tray will be extremely popular among technology novices.

Staples is confident that handheld computers will be a strong category this holiday season for two distinct audiences - personal and business users. Business executives will be attracted to the new Palm Tungsten E due to its attractive price, high-resolution color screen and ability to work with Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook calendar. The Tungsten T3 adds memory, built-in Bluetooth and a color screen that can be viewed as portrait or landscape - making it a true mobile office and the ideal gift for technology "spaceships" (15 percent of respondents).

For personal use, the Sony Clie SJ22 will be one of the hottest sellers due to its small size, color screen and attractive pricing. The Palm Zire 71 adds a built-in camera, MP3 player with headphone jack, and all the organization tools a college student or soccer mom could ever want.

The wireless phenomenon will make wireless keyboards and mice, networking kits and gadgets popular gift items for technology "sports cars and spaceships." The Linksys Wireless-B Game Adapter, for example, converts wired PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube consoles to wireless. Finger-sized thumbdrive storage devises will be a popular gift item for mobile executives and busy students, since they plug into a USB port and transport up to 88 floppy discs' worth of data, music or photos.

"We're convinced that this is the year for technology gifts for everyone from grandparents to recent college grads and we have created the shopping environment and tools that will make Staples stand out," said Goodman. "Staples is a logical alternative to mass merchants, electronics stores and on-line retailers - uniquely positioned to take the mystique out of technology purchases," she added.

In addition to the www.staples.com/youdecide feature, the office supply retailer is offering free shipping on-line through the holidays. In addition to technology gifts, Staples 1,500 stores stock a wide selection of shipping materials and offer discounted UPS rates. The company will open stores at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, November 28th - welcoming technology scooters, station wagons, sports cars and spaceships.

The Staples survey was conducted by Staples Business Rewards customer service representatives in September and October 2003 with 500 respondents.

About Staples

Staples, Inc. is headquartered outside of Boston and sells a wide range of office products, including supplies, technology, furniture, and business services. With 2002 sales of $11.6 billion, Staples is committed to make buying office products easy. Nearly 58,000 associates serve consumers and businesses of all sizes - from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the US, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Staples invented the office superstore concept and today, with approximately 1,500 office superstores, is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. Staples also serves its customers through its mail order catalog, e-commerce and contract businesses. More information is available at http://www.staples.com.

Contact:

Staples, Inc.
Karen O'Neil, 508-253-7375
Karen.Oneil@staples.com
or
Sharyn Frankel, 508-253-7895
Sharyn.Frankel@staples.com

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