US shoppers seeking holiday discounts

28 October 2010

NEW YORK: Recent forecasts suggest US retailers face a relatively quiet holiday season, with consumers planning to cut their festive spending.

Accenture's holiday-shopping survey which reports that 87% of respondents "will not be moved to buy without a discount of at least 20%", while 43% of participants in a recent NPD survey cited discount stores as their shop of choice.

This in turn suggests that consumers are still working to tight budgets in the wake of the global economic downturn, which pitched the US economy into its deepest recession in decades during 2008-09.

But there was better news for ecommerce firms, with over one third (35%) of respondents saying they plan to use the internet for holiday shopping this year.

Moreover, 41% surveyed by Accenture's online poll said the same.

This trend is partly due to the fact that online shopping is being used by shoppers keen to hunt out the best deals.

For example, 33% of the NPD Group sample said they "compare prices online before they shop in a store".

Similarly, 34% of those participating in a separate survey by Burst Media said last year they "researched gift ideas online but ultimately purchased the gift(s) offline at a physical retail location".

Half the respondents to a BIGresearch survey plan to shop online this Christmas, with 32% of this group expecting to do more of their shopping online than last year.

Whether on the high street or online, figures from the NPD Group poll suggest the anticipated drop in expenditure by holiday shoppers is likely to affect all categories.

For example, only 42% of respondents said they are planning to buy clothes this year, down from 49% last year.

Similarly, those likely to buy toys have dropped from 34% to 32%, books from 28% to 23% and electronics from 24% to 16%.

Meanwhile, anticipated purchases of video gaming systems or games are down from 20% to 15% and fragrances from 19% to 13%.

In line with recent consumer confidence surveys, the NPD Group poll shows just 9% of shoppers plan to spend more this Christmas, with only 5% of respondents to both the Harris Interactive Survey for RetailMeNot and the BIGresearch poll intending to increase holiday expenditure.

NPD also reports that 30% are likely to spend less, the Harris poll suggested that 40% of people will decrease holiday expenditure and BIG that 35% will cut down on present buying.

Even in Burst Media's survey - which showed 17% of people planned to spend more this Christmas - there were still 35% intending to spend less.

The rich are also planning to tighten their belts this year.

An American Express Publishing/Harrison group survey reports that 53% of consumers with disposable household income of in excess of $100,000 "are looking to reduce the number of gifts they buy".

Data sourced from Adweek; additional content by Warc staff