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Report: Consumers to shop earlier and spend more this holiday season

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — With a late Thanksgiving and the shortest holiday shopping season in years, consumers report they are starting their holiday shopping sooner and spending more this year, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research. The report is more optimistic than some other holiday forecasts.

Consumers also say they expect to spend $1,260, up $400 from last year. Looking for the best deals, more than a quarter of Americans say they have already started holiday shopping and will finish before Dec.1 (27% versus 24% in 2012). Others expect to finish a week before Christmas (37% versus 33% in 2012).

“We’re seeing an increased intent to spend among consumers as we head into the critical holiday shopping season, suggesting strong enthusiasm for hitting the aisles this year,” said David Rabkin, senior VP of U.S. consumer lending products, American Express. “This is good news for retailers who might be concerned that the shorter shopping season will impact their sales.”

The report finds Cyber Monday is beating out Black Friday as the most popular shopping day, with more consumers (55% versus 39% in 2012) planning to shop the virtual blowout sales day instead of fighting crowds the day after Thanksgiving (52% versus 45% in 2012).

Department stores and large electronic stores look to be on the upswing this year. According to the report, the top shopping destinations will be superstores (66% versus 68% in 2012); department stores (62%, up from 48% in 2012); large electronic stores (45% , up from 36%); and small businesses (36%, up from 24%)

Couponing continues to be a go-to strategy, with almost half (47%) of consumers planning to use coupons or promotions for holiday shopping. Whether clipping or clicking, most consumers (82%) say they’ll opt for a hybrid approach to saving, shopping both in-store and online.

On the social front, 66% plan to take advantage of offers via social media sites, up from 60% last year. When it comes to discounts, consumers “like” Facebook as the most popular social resource (49% versus 46% in 2012), followed by Groupon (43%, up significantly from 27% last year), Pinterest (20%, up from 10%) and Twitter (20%, up from 15%).

Other key findings from the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker include:

  • More than half (58%) of Black Friday shoppers plan to shop between 12am and 7am that day, similar to last year.
  • On average, Black Friday shoppers will splurge 53% more this year, spending $611 on average (up significantly from $398 in 2012). Overall, shoppers will dig deeper into their wallets, as those who plan to spend more than $1,000 on Black Friday has more than doubled since last year (24%). Just under a third (30%) plan to spend between $500 and $999.
  • Consumers will multitask by using mobile devices to shop (51%, up from 32% last year), browse for gift ideas (25%, up from 18%) and compare prices with barcode scanning apps (20%, up from 12%).

For the full report, click here.

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Former Walmart exec Lewis heads to Aetna

BY CSA STAFF

Former Walmart executive Dijuana Lewis will be joining Aetna as EVP, responsible for the newly formed Consumer Products and Enterprise Marketing organization.

In this role, she will be responsible for aligning consumer-focused businesses, products, services and capabilities to deliver a personalized end-to-end consumer experience that positions the company for long-term growth.

Lewis will report directly to Aetna chairman, CEO and president Mark Bertolini and will be a member of the company’s executive committee.

“The future of health care will be driven by consumers and the increasing role they will play in managing their health and healthcare finances,” Bertolini said. “Under Dijuana’s leadership, we will align and energize the resources, technologies, products and people we need to truly personalize the healthcare experience and deliver solutions that keep people well.”

Lewis will oversee strategic initiatives and capabilities including Aetna’s private exchange strategy, consumer experience, digital assets and marketplace informatics and analytics.

Lewis comes to Aetna from Walmart, where she most recently served as SVP healthcare solutions. In this role, she was responsible for developing the company’s strategic direction for health care solutions in the United States.

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J.C. Penney to kick off holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving

BY CSA STAFF

J.C. Penney has joined the list of retail chains that plan to open their stores on Thanksgiving night to kick off the holiday shopping season.

Penney will open most of its 1,100 stores at 8 p.m., the same as Macy’s. Last year, Penney opened its stores at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, while rivals Macy’s and Kohl’s opened their doors at midnight.

Penney had previously announced it is bringing back a holiday tradition that then-CEO Ron Johnson ditched last year: Stores will give away nearly two million holiday snow globes starting at 4 a.m. on Black Friday.

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