Report: Consumers Spending Less, Spreading Out Holiday Shopping

New York City The tight economy has shoppers looking at their holiday shopping lists and rethinking their shopping strategies this year. Besides sticking to holiday budgets this year, many shoppers are starting their shopping earlier in hopes of taking advantage of discounts.

These were a few of the highlights in the Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey. The new study was based on a Web survey that asked 537 consumers about their buying and spending plans for the upcoming holiday season.

Retailers will be battling for consumers’ holiday budgets this year, as rising food, home energy and gas prices continue to impact holiday shoppers. In fact, 88% of surveyed shoppers plan to spend either the same level or less this year compared to 2007, the study said. Fifty-four percent of shoppers expect to spend approximately $100 less than they did last year, and 22% plan to spend $250 less than 2007, the study said. Nearly one-third of respondents (29%) blame this pullback on an economy that is weaker than last year, the study said.

And these shoppers don’t expect to be easily swayed by impulse purchases. Fifty-eight percent of consumers reported that they will stick to holiday budgets, compared to 48% last year.

One way they plan to keep to these budgets is to spread out their shopping over a longer timeframe. Rather than wait until Black Friday, the unofficial launch of the holiday shopping season, to hit the stores, 45% of shoppers plan to starting their shopping before Thanksgiving.

Black Friday will still attract holiday shoppers into the stores, but less will be making those trips into stores and online. Forty-six percent of participants reported they typically shop on Black Friday, but only 42% plan to do so this year.

Online shopping looks promising with 29% of holiday shoppers saying they will log onto their favorite retailers on Cyber Monday and 21% plan to spend between $251 and $500. Meanwhile, 88% of shoppers said they plan to research gifts online, but 31% will not purchase this merchandise online.

Almost half of surveyed shoppers (49%) will complete their holiday shopping between Black Friday and Dec. 21, but 38% of consumers plan to wait even later. Thirty-eight percent of participants plan to delay shopping until later in the season in hopes of getting better discounts. In fact, 61% of shoppers reported that advertising is the primary way they learn about holiday merchandise and gift ideas.

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