With a quarter of holiday shoppers planning to spend more this year than last, retailers can start to celebrate. In its second year of research into holiday shopping plans, analytics leader SAS, polled 3,458 consumers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The US led spending growth with 29 percent of consumers saying they’ll spend more. Canadian shoppers, on the other hand, are tightening their budgets this year. Millennial shoppers (ages 18-29) are most likely to up their spending this year, while older consumers are tending to stick with last year’s budget.
“Consumers are highly motivated by price in 2015, according to our survey,” said Alan Lipson, SAS Global Retail Marketing Manager. “So for consumers, my guidance is pay attention to your preferred retailers. Sign up for their loyalty programs, download their apps, follow them on social media, and visit their web sites for deals. Retailers want to reach you in the way you want, so make that work to your advantage. Opt in with your smartphone while shopping in the store - the retailer can send you promotions that other shoppers might not receive.”
Lipson also said retailers know a consumer’s time is valuable. If an item runs out in the store or online, consumers will look for what they want from a competitor. “Consumers are in the driver’s seat during the holidays, more than any other time of the year,” he said.
More nappers than shoppers on Thanksgiving
Fewer US consumers have plans to shop on Thanksgiving Day this year compared to 2014. Last year, one in four planned to hit the stores after finishing off the turkey. Only 17 percent say the same this year. Those who do shop on Thanksgiving Day in the US cite bargains and the excitement of the season as reasons.
Still, the week leading up to Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday remain popular times for holiday shoppers to venture out, particularly among 18 to 29. Roughly half of younger shoppers surveyed are planning their holiday shopping from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, compared to just one-third of shoppers over 30.
And what of Cyber Monday? The Monday following Thanksgiving has slipped in popularity. Only 38 percent of US consumers plan to cash in on Cyber Monday bargains, down from 53 percent in 2014. Consumers the world over still plan to do the bulk of their shopping during the traditional November to December holiday season. A miniscule 5 percent said their holiday shopping was complete in October, when this survey was conducted.
Despite the popularity of tablets and laptops, consumers still favor in-store over online shopping. Eight in 10 shoppers will visit stores to buy, while seven in 10 will shop online. Of the hefty 30 percent who will shop via mobile devices this holiday season, most are under 40.
Squeaky toys rule: Gift buyers pick pets over coworkers, neighbors
Not surprisingly, kids are the big winners of the holiday gift budget this year. Shoppers plan to spend an average of $277 on family members under 18, $231 on adult family members, but only $203 on significant others. And some family pets are going to enjoy the holidays more than some humans: 28 percent of shoppers plan to buy the family pet a present. That’s more than those who plan to buy gifts for their kids’ teachers, letter carriers, hair stylists, work colleagues or neighbors. So who is buying gifts for Fido or Snowball? Overwhelmingly, women.
How long must I wait?
Shoppers tend to be stuck in lines for two reasons: getting in the door for “doorbuster” deals and checking out. The SAS survey found that the bigger the discount, the longer consumers are willing to stand in line to get inside the store (1 percent for every 60 seconds of wait time). But they’re far less patient about standing in line to pay. Shoppers are only willing to stand in the check-out line for only two-thirds of the amount of time they were willing to wait to get into the store in the first place.
Still cashing in on gift cards
Don’t be surprised if you receive a few gift cards this year; it’s the No. 1 gift choice for consumers overall. Next come toys and games, followed by apparel.
Beyond that, location matters as to where consumers prefer to shop. In the US, discount retailers are at the top, followed by e-tailers (online retailers) and department stores. Canadians also opt for discount stores, followed by specialty retailers and e-tailers. In the U.K., it’s e-tailers who can expect the most visitors, with department stores and grocery stores coming in next. Department stores and discount retailers tied for first in Australia, while warehouse retailers look best to New Zealanders.
Post-holiday predictions? More shopping
What will consumers do once the wrapping paper and ribbons have been tossed? Hit the post-holiday sales. Overall, two-thirds of holiday shoppers – ranging from 68 percent in the US down to 55 percent in Australia and Canada – plan to cash in on after-holiday bargains. But, cue the sad music, more than a third of consumers expect to return gifts after the holidays.
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