Holiday 2011 Shopping Trends Identify Two Bargain Hunter Groups
Which one are you? A finisher or late buyer?
According to the latest America’s Research Group/UBS Christmas Forecast bargain hunters were out in force Black Friday weekend, while others are quietly scoping out the landscape in hopes of snagging last-minute sales. Two distinct shopping mind-sets with one common goal - both are driven by the prospect of unprecedented retail deals, or at least hopes of finding them.
The survey, conducted Dec. 2-4, found that with Christmas still several weeks away, fully 15.1 percent of consumers have already completed their holiday shopping, largely doing so the weekend after Thanksgiving, up from 11.5 percent at this time last year. Meanwhile, nearly six in 10 (58.8 percent, up from 47.2 percent in 2010), plan to wait for last-minute deals in the days just before Christmas. Specifically, an all-time high 41.1 percent said they’re holding out to see “70% off” signs before they make their way into stores.
This stare down with retailers will clobber retail margins as its likely retailers will blink first in order to entice those last-minute shoppers before the go elsewhere.
Retailers may take consolation, however, that 27.3% percent of shoppers have spent beyond their budgets this year, up from 22.6 percent in 2010. Driven by loss leaders the numbers don’t necessarily mean the retailers bottom line is going to be any healthier.
Other trends emerge from this survey:
- Simplified shopping - Only 8.4 percent of shoppers have scoured at least nine stores this year, down from 15.2 percent in 2010
- Online shopping takes off - The percentage shopping more online has nearly doubled since last year (25.1 percent vs. 13.4 percent)
- The easy route - Gift-card purchases, which had been in a decline after 2006 (42.1 percent), are now at a five-year high (36.8 percent, up from 30.2 percent last year and 27.3 percent in 2009)
These numbers are, in large part, predictable. Retailers have trained consumers to buy only the “door busters”, to wait until products are on sale, and to see little distinction from one retailer to another. When the dust settles on this holiday season it’s likely that two things will be clear; (1) overall sales numbers will be better than last year, and (2) retailers financial strength will be no better off than last year.