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NRF survey: Holiday bargains entice, but much more shopping to be done

Washington, D.C. -- A survey released Wednesday by the National Retail Federation found that aggressive holiday sales drew shoppers a little earlier this year, but many shoppers still have half their purchasing yet to do.

According to NRF’s 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average person had completed 49.5% of their holiday shopping by the second week of December, up from 46.7% at same time last holiday season.

“It’s well-known that at least half of the shopping that occurs during the holiday season happens during the last few weeks, making the final stretch of utmost importance to retailers,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With the big day falling on a Saturday this year and a lot of shopping left to be done, retailers will continue to push aggressive promotions in the weekdays leading up to it, hoping to remind shoppers they only have one more weekend to shop.”

According to the survey, 37 million people (16.9%) had not even started their shopping as of late last week, lower than the estimated 42 million people who said so during same point last year.

Additionally, 22 million (10.1%) say they have already finished, up from 8.6% who had finished by this time last year. Men admit to having completed slightly less than women at this point (48.5% vs. 50.4% respectively).

Most holiday shoppers (32.4%) plan to complete their list prior to Saturday, Dec. 18, yet Friday, December 24 (11.9%) is expected to be the second busiest day between the 18th and Christmas Day.

Of the people who say they have used their smartphone to shop this holiday season, 26.0% have used the phone to make an actual purchase. Nearly one-third (32.5%) are specifically using their phone to receive text messages with special offers and 34.6% are reading customer reviews. Locating store hours or locations (50.7%) and browsing for gifts (60.2%) are the most popular ways shoppers have used their phones thus far.

Department stores can expect the larger share of traffic over the next few weeks (38.4%), though online retailers (37.6%) and discount stores (36.5%) will also be popular shopping destinations for last-minute shoppers. Electronics stores (19.4%), clothing or accessories stores (18.8%) and outlet stores (10.8%) will also see their share of procrastinators in the coming days.

When it comes to gifts that have been bought so far, most say they have purchased clothes or clothing accessories (43.9%). Though books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (38.1%) have also been popular purchases. Consumers also bought toys (35.3%), gift cards (29.9%), consumer electronics (21.3%), food or candy (20.0%), and home décor (15.2%).

When asked which payment method they have used the most, 40.9% have used their debit or check cards most often. Nearly one-third (31.1%) have used their credit cards and 24.4% have used cash. Just 3.6% have relied on checks.

© 2014