The Importance of Being In Stock

While many retailers are eager to put the most recent holiday selling season behind them, there are some important lessons to keep in mind for next year from a survey of 2006 holiday shoppers by KPMG LLP. Chief among these: in-stocks and a simple return policy are at the top of many consumers’ lists when it comes to deciding where to do their holiday shopping.

In the survey, entitled 2006 Holiday Shopping Behavior Consumer Research, some 81% of consumers said they sought out the store that had the desired item in stock; 75% said a simple return policy helped them decide which retailers to patronize. Only 19% of respondents cited price as being influential in choosing a retailer.

Other findings of KPMG’s study include:

Early promotions had little effect on when people shopped;

Low prices were considered most important when buying electronics;

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they preferred to shop at a strip mall or freestanding store because they were less crowded and were easier to get in and out of compared to malls;

Overall selection increased in importance as to why shoppers shifted their spending from one store to another.

One important conclusion to be drawn from the survey is that operational execution is critical for any retailer to avoid being sidestepped by consumers. Another is that heavy promotions of sales may not be the most effective or successful method of attracting customers. Both have year-round impact.

“Retailers who focus on price to drive sustained profitable growth are unlikely to achieve their goals,” said Mark Larson, KPMG’s global leader for the retail sector.

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