Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Minute Shoppers

Just because it's a week away, and retailers have had Christmas stuff in their stores since July 5th, doesn't mean Americans are done shopping...

Majority of Holiday Shoppers Still Have Gifts to Buy

Hard to pass up holiday sales helped motivate holiday shoppers a little earlier this year, though most agree they still have quite a dent to make in their list. According to the National Retail Federation's 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average person had completed 49.5 percent of their holiday shopping by the second week of December, up from 46.7 percent at same time last holiday season.

"It's well-known that at least half of the shopping that occurs during the holiday season happens during the last few weeks, making the final stretch of utmost importance to retailers," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "With the big day falling on a Saturday this year and a lot of shopping left to be done, retailers will continue to push aggressive promotions in the weekdays leading up to it, hoping to remind shoppers they only have one more weekend to shop."

According to the survey, 37 million people (16.9%) had not even started their shopping as of late last week, lower than the estimated 42 million people who said so during same point last year. Additionally, 22 million go-getters (10.1%) say they have already finished, up from 8.6 percent who had finished by this time last year. Though they started the season with a bang, men admit to having completed slightly less than women at this point (48.5% vs. 50.4% respectively).

It seems many shoppers are well aware they only have one big weekend left to shop. According to the survey, most holiday shoppers (32.4%) plan to complete their list prior to Saturday, December 18. Though, Friday, December 24 (11.9%) is expected to be the second busiest day between the 18th and Christmas Day.

Of the people who say they have used their smartphone to shop this holiday season, more than one-quarter (26.0%) have used the phone to make an actual purchase. Nearly one-third (32.5%) are specifically using their phone to receive text messages with special offers and 34.6 percent are reading what their peers are saying in customer reviews. It seems locating store hours or locations (50.7%) and perusing their options by browsing for gifts (60.2%) are the most popular ways shoppers have used their phones thus far.

"Just as we saw with the emergence of Internet shopping, mobile shopping, too, is already starting to catch on in terms of being a generator of sales for retailers," said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. "Tracking down mobile coupons and reading customer reviews remain extremely popular options for shoppers as they look for the best price, product and even store location."

Department stores can expect the larger share of traffic over the next few weeks (38.4%), though online retailers (37.6%) and discount stores (36.5%) will also be popular shopping destinations for last-minute shoppers. Electronics stores (19.4%), clothing or accessories stores (18.8%) and outlet stores (10.8%) will also see their share of procrastinators in the coming days.

When it comes to gifts that have been bought so far, most say they have purchased clothes or clothing accessories (43.9%). Though books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (38.1%) have also been popular purchases. Consumers also bought toys (35.3%), gift cards (29.9%), consumer electronics (21.3%), food or candy (20.0%), and home d├ęcor (15.2%).

When asked which payment method they have used the most, four out of ten (40.9%) have used their debit or check cards most often. Nearly one-third (31.1%) have used their credit cards and nearly one-quarter (24.4%) have used cash. A mere 3.6 percent have relied on checks.

Christmas Day itself will largely serve as a day for consumers to cook (45.6%), visit friends and family (66.0%) and watch TV (52.8%), but nearly one-quarter (24.1%) will browse the Internet as well. NRF has revised its holiday sales forecast to 3.3 percent, or $451.5 billion, up from the original 2.3 percent expected increase.

(Source: National Retail Federation, 12/15/10)

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