NRF Predicts Conservative Holiday Shopping

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.

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