Industry forecasts are mild; will there be a holiday miracle on Main Street?
What about the holiday shoppers?
Several holiday shopping forecasts ranging from modest to encouraging have already been released in anticipation of the year’s busiest shopping season that can account for 40 percent of a retailer’s annual revenue. The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent, the smallest increase in three years, but still higher than the 3.5 percent average over the last decade.
Projections for online holiday shopping are more optimistic. Research firm, eMarketer forecasts online holiday sales will grow 16.8 percent, excluding travel purchases. In a reflection of the growing popularity of online shopping, Fed Ex expects to ship 280 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, up 13 percent from last year.
But what are consumers’ holiday shopping attitudes? Do they intend to deck the malls, or will they “Bah” instead of buy? A new Holiday Habits Retail Survey of 1,739 store-branded credit card holders conducted by Alliance Data Retail Services, foresees a holiday miracle on Main Street.
Half of respondents said they plan to spend more on holiday purchases than they did last year, while 42 percent said they intend to spend the same. An almost equal percentage said they are likely to use a credit card (63 percent) to pay for purchases as those who intend to pay with cash (62 percent).
More than half (55 percent) said they will be shopping on post-Thanksgiving Black Friday, the unofficial start of the holiday shoping season. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) said it was to take advantage of store deals, while 55 percent said it puts them in the holiday spirit.
Black Friday has an edge over Cyber Monday in shopping preference (59 percent vs. 41 percent), but almost one-quarter (25 percent) said they will spend half their time or more shopping online this year. Fifteen percent will do the same on their smartphone or computer tablet.
When it comes to shopping styles, 51 percent try to accomplish as much as they can in one fast-paced shopping trip. Thirty-five percent take things slower, but contend that they always finish with everything they need. Thirteen percent said they buy throughout the year and hide gifts until the holidays.
A recent Millionaire Corner survey finds affluent households in a more measured mood. Seventy-one percent said that they would be spending the same on holiday gifts this year, with a near equal percentage of those saying they will spend more (13 percent) or less (12 percent).
Frugality could be the gift that keeps on giving. Ninety percent they are unwilling to take on debt with their holiday purchases, while 38 percent said they have been saving money all year in anticipation of holiday shopping.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.