New York -- Shoppers are in a good mood heading into the holiday season, with the number of consumers planning to spend less on the holidays (37%) at the lowest level since 2006, according to Deloitte's 27th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends. One-half (50%) of consumers surveyed expect the economy will improve next year, up from just one-third (33%) heading into the holiday season last year.
"Consumers appear to be turning a corner and are more confident about the economy," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. "Recent improvements in housing, employment and the stock market may have buoyed their spirits, but their optimism is somewhat tempered as they keep an eye on energy costs and possible tax increases.”
Survey respondents' gift spending remains similar to last year at $386, down just slightly from $395 in 2011. Omnichannel shoppers may bring retailers the most holiday cheer: The average gift spend among consumers surveyed who plan to hit the Internet, their smartphones and stores this holiday season is $600 – a healthy 71% higher than those who plan to shop only in stores.
The shopping season, however, is not without its potential challenges for retailers. One-quarter (24%)) of survey respondents will delay their shopping until the election has been decided. But the outcome is unlikely to soften holiday budgets. One-half (50%) of consumers indicate the election will not change their spending plans and 23%s remain undecided whether the election will affect how much they spend.
Gift cards/certificates top the list of items surveyed consumers wish to receive are gift cards/certificates (45%), followed by (43%). When purchasing gifts, 51% of shoppers indicate they plan to buy clothing, and 47% plan to buy gift cards/certificates, followed by electronics (35%) and books (34%).
When shopping for the holidays, 51% plan to head to discount stores, followed by the Internet (45% ), making these the top two shopping destinations again this year.
The hunt for bargains remains a holiday tradition, according to the study, with 44% of shoppers indicating that because they expect merchandise will eventually go "on sale," they will only buy sale items. Some 38% also expect store associates to match prices.
"Consumers have come to expect value at a good price, and the stakes are high for retailers to keep promotions fresh throughout the season," Paul said,