Washington, D.C., According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) first holiday shopper survey, consumers still plan to spend more on the holidays this year than last, but their spending will be a bit restrained.
"Shoppers will be a little more conservative with their spending as they become more aware of the softness in the economy," said NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin in a statement. "It is safe to say that many retailers will be competing on price, causing this holiday season to be very promotional." According to the just-released report, “The 2007 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey,” U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $816.69 on holiday-related shopping, and an additional $106.67 on special “non-gift” purchases, taking advantage of special promotions and discounts to treat themselves. This brings total planned holiday-related spending to $923.36, up 3.7% from 2006 and in line with NRF’s economic forecast of 4%, to $474.5 billion.
The report found most people won’t wait until Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) to begin bargain hunting. Instead, 40.3% of shoppers will begin holiday shopping before Halloween. (However, a different survey last week from market research firm NPD Group indicated that 40% of consumers said they didn't anticipate beginning their holiday shopping until after until after Thanksgiving.)
Discounters can expect the most holiday traffic, with 68.4% of consumers planning to shop there (down from 70.3% in 2006). Meanwhile, 58.2% of shoppers said they will go to department stores, down from 61.6% last year. Online sales will continue to play an increasingly important role, accounting for more than 30% of shoppers' holiday spending, up from 28.9% last year.
Two major factors will be driving consumer traffic this holiday season as the majority of shoppers continue to say that sales or price discounts (38.2%) and everyday low prices (12.8%) bring them into the stores. Although all signs point to a promotional holiday season, other factors such as customer service (4.9%), product quality (12.8%), and merchandise selection (22.6%) will help drive traffic.
Gift cards will again dominate the season. The survey said 53.8% of consumers want to receive a gift card or gift certificate as a holiday gift. But consumers also indicated a desire for clothing, CDs, DVDs, videogames, jewelry and home-related goods.
The survey was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch Oct. 2-9 and polled 7,837 consumers.