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Bargains matter most to holiday shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

While the shopping experience is important to consumers, most holiday shoppers are still motivated by a good deal.

This was according to “Holiday Shopping 2018: Nothing Beats a Bargain, the Consumer Beat Survey” from BDO. The study revealed that consumers are more likely to write off a retailer that doesn’t offer sales or discounts and bad customer service (22%, respectively).

According to the study, price remains a main focus when shopping across many retail categories, including jewelry (64%), food and grocery (59%), home goods (58%), shoes and clothing (54%) and beauty products (47%).

Consumers are equally mindful when it comes to paying sales tax online. For example, nearly one in five consumers shop online specifically to avoid paying sales taxes. They are so serious about this fee that 46% said change their shopping habits if e-tailers began collecting sales taxes. This is especially true among younger demographics, as more than half of Millennials’ buying behaviors would change, compared to 35% of Baby Boomers.

For retailers that can’t compete on price, they should put more attention on the service they provide. For example, consumers are bee-lining for one-stop destinations that guarantee good value. However, more consumers would be primarily shopping at discount retailers if what constitutes good value only meant the lowest prices, the study revealed.

That said, 31% of consumers are shopping in-store at big-box retailers, 29% shop at Amazon, 15% shop at online retailers other than Amazon and in-store at department stores and malls, respectively. A mere 5% head to local stores or shop in-store at discounters, respectively.

Other factors that will influence customers to cut ties with retailers include a lack of inventory (20%), long wait times (18%) and bad return policies (8%). This is especially true when shopping for clothing and apparel, as 7% of consumers will choose where to shop based on a brand’s ease of returns.

Interestingly, product reviews and speed of delivery do not highly persuade customers where to shop. In fact, the most consumers influenced by reviews are shopping for beauty products (17%) or electronics (17%) respectively. Similarly, the highest number of consumers influenced by a brand’s speed of delivery are shopping for groceries (8%).

“Our findings show that while experience is important, it doesn’t trump a good bargain,” said Natalie Kotlyar, partner and leader of BDO’s Retail & Consumer Products practice.

“Flashy perks and overnight delivery won’t necessarily mean consumers are willing to break the bank. They purchase with intention. Smart retailers will do the same: With pressure from all sides heading into the most critical season, it’s easy to make investments in pursuit of following the leader,” she added. “But retailers can only stay viable if investment decisions are aligned with their core purpose and made with equal weight given to maintaining financial stability.”

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