7 Points Taken From NRF’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey

Holiday Piggy BankThe NRF 2015 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey was by Prosper Insights and Analytics last week, and designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The results show that the 2015 holiday season should be a big one for ecommerce, as consumers said they are eager for offers like buy online pick up in store and free shipping.

What’s more, the average consumer says 46% of their shopping this holiday season will be conducted online. Also, 21.4% of smartphone owners will use their device to purchase holiday merchandise this year, the highest seen since NRF first asked that question in 2011.

Here are seven points you need to take away from the NRF’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey:

Buy online pick up in store, free shipping high on busy shoppers list

Savvy holiday shoppers will shop around to find the perfect gift this year with most saying they will shop at discount (55.9%) and department stores (55.6%), and online (52.9%). Two in five (44.1%) will shop at grocery stores and one-third (33.4%) will shop at clothing or accessory stores.

Of those who plan to shop online, 46.5 percent say they will take advantage of retailers’ buy online pick up in store or ship-to-store options. Free shipping seems to be the most anticipated promotion however: 93.1 percent of online shoppers say they will use a free shipping offer when shopping for holiday merchandise.

Millennial online shoppers are most likely to take advantage of the instant gratification option when it comes to shipping and fulfillment: According to the survey, 16.7 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 15.9 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds will use a same-day delivery option when buying gifts, décor and other holiday items, compared to just 7.8 percent of the rest of the population.

Almost half of holiday shopping (browsing and buying) will be done online

More of shoppers’ time this holiday season will be spent browsing and buying online compared to last year — and the 10 years NRF has been tracking this. The survey found nearly half (46.1%) of holiday shopping will be conducted online, up from 44.4 percent last year and the highest recorded since NRF first asked in 2006.

High level of mobile engagement among holiday shoppers is expected

There’s no question that consumers have adopted mobile technologies into their way of life. And when it comes to the holiday season, many smartphone and tablet owners already have big plans for their handheld devices.

The survey found that 21.4 percent of smartphone owners will use their device to purchase holiday merchandise this year, the highest seen since NRF first asked in 2011. Additionally, more will use their smartphone to research products (37.9% vs. 35.8% last year) and to look for a way to connect with a retail store by looking up retailer information like store hours and directions (28.4% vs. 26.9% last year). One in five (20.3%) will specifically use their smartphone to look up product availability in a store.

Tablet owners plan to be just as mobile-active. Nearly half (47.5%) will use their device to research products and 34.5 percent will use their tablet to make a holiday purchase of some kind, similar to last year (33%); nearly one-quarter (23.5%) will check for in-store availability from their tablet.
One for you, two for me: “self-gifting” spending up

In addition to shopping for gifts for their loved ones, holiday shoppers will take advantage of discounts to treat themselves and/or their family members to a non-gift item. The survey found 55.8 percent will splurge on themselves and/or others for non-gift items, and will spend an average of $131.59, up from $126.37 last year.

Proof holiday early birds exist

For the 14th year in a row, NRF’s holiday spending survey found that approximately 40 percent of holiday shoppers say they begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. Another 41.5 percent say they begin their holiday shopping in November, and 18.7 will begin sometime in December.

When asked why they begin shopping early, most of those that responded that they shop before or in September or October say it’s to spread out their budget (61.4%). Another 48 percent say they want to avoid the November and December crowds and 46 percent do so to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping.

Sales and discounts, quality of merchandise tops for holiday shoppers

When asked which factors are the most important in their decision on where to shop during the holiday season, nearly three-quarters (73.1%) said sales or price discounts are a factor, and six in 10 (60.7%) said quality of merchandise. Additionally, 58.6 percent said selection of merchandise and two in five (45.3%) said a convenient location helped them decide.

And when it comes to online shopping, 46.7 percent said free shipping/shipping promotions are important factors in their decision on where to shop, and nearly three in 10 (28.3%) responded that easy-to-use websites or mobile sites were important to them.

Additionally, 38 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say that helpful, knowledgeable customer service is an important factor when it comes to deciding where to shop, compared to 28.4 percent of other adults. And one in 10 (10.3%) 18- to 24-year-olds say layaway services are important in their destination decision.

Gift cards maintain their spot at top of wish lists

Those struggling with finding the perfect gift this year should look no further than a retailer’s gift card section. According to the survey, nearly six in 10 (58.8%) consumers celebrating the holidays say they would like to receive gift cards as a gift, making this the ninth year in a row that gift cards have topped the list of most requested gift items.

Tim Parry is Managing Editor of Multichannel Merchant.

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