New York—Consumers are better prepared and already have planned their holiday shopping seasons, according to The Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey, which was released this week.
While consumers have been “self sacrificing” and now may be prepared to spend more—albeit not extravagantly—this holiday, they also will be employing some shopping tactics that has became the bane to many retailers: “showrooming,” meaning they find a product they like in a physical store location, then go home and search online to find the best price and buy it online. And more times than not, they are buying the product at an e-tailer or another retailer than the one where they had been shopping.
The majority of shoppers (56%) say they are likely to participate in “showrooming” this holiday season, according to Accenture. Moreover, 27% of these same shoppers say they would likely make the purchase online, using their smartphone or tablet computer even while they are still out shopping!
“Showrooming is a very real phenomenon; however, retailers can compete with, and even beat, the online pure play retailers,” said Chris Donnelly, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice.
“Consumers don’t just want to shop online; they want a simple and seamless shopping experience that offers them convenience and value,” Donnelly said. “As recent announcements have shown, some traditional retailers are starting to tackle showrooming head-on this holiday season with tactics such as price matching against their online competitors but they must also strengthen their customer service and product availability in order to really fight back.”
According to the survey, the use of tablet computers and smartphones to make holiday purchases is on the rise as well. In fact, 25% of consumers intend to use these devices to buy holiday gifts, compared to 17% in 2011. The top reason cited for using a tablet computer or smartphone for holiday shopping is to compare prices while in a store.
Besides convenience, using mobile devices may be part of many holiday shoppers’ strategies as they strive to stay on budget.
Shoppers are better prepared this holiday season with half, 51%, saying they will pay for their holiday shopping with cash put aside for that purpose, compared to 45% last year.
Discounts, Promotions Lure in Holiday Shoppers
And, fewer shoppers plan to use either a major credit card to pay for their holiday purchases this year; 33% in 2012 compared to 47% in 2011. However, 26% of respondents said that the desire not to increase their credit card debt would negatively impact their holiday spending this year.
“The research illustrates a shift in U.S. consumers’ approach to their holiday spending,” said Donnelly. “Many consumers are still struggling to balance their household budgets, at the same time that pay raises and bonuses remain in short supply, and they are realizing that this is not a short-term phenomenon. Consumers will remain resistant to the impulse purchase, and retailers will have to work harder to secure that extra spend by having a unique product, service or experience, and being clear on the value to the customer.”
Similarly, retailers will be turning again to discounts and other promotions to lure in shoppers. In fact, 82% of shoppers still say discounts and promotions are shopping drivers for them—a slight decrease from 93% who said the same thing in 2011.
Three quarters of respondents (78%) say that at least half of their holiday shopping purchases will be discounted items, and half (50%) will be looking for a discount between 20% to 40% off the original product price.
“The retail environment is still heavily promotional, and that is the default setting for most retailers,” said Donnelly. “However, the difference this year is how early, and how hard, some retailers have punched the promotion button. Discounts of 30% or more have been available since October 1, and that will set the tone for this season.”
Discount retailers will remain the most popular destination for the vast majority of U.S. consumers this holiday season, according to the survey. Three quarters (75%) of shoppers say they will be buying gifts at discount retailers, up slightly from 73% in 2011. Online-only retailers are continuing to grow in popularity (44%, compared to 41% in 2011). Another 30% of consumers said they will be buying gifts at mainstream department stores, the same proportion as 2011.
Nearly one quarter of consumers (23%) plan to shop during the period from Black Friday until the end of November, an increase from 19% who said they would shop in that time frame in the 2011 survey.
Almost half –47%–believe that the best discounts will be available on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, whereas 29% expect that they will need to hold out until the week leading up to Christmas in order to get the best holiday bargains.
According to the Accenture survey, 34% of consumers say they are likely to shop on Cyber Monday. Of these, 45% will be looking for free shipping offers from retailers while 40% will do so because they feel the best online deals will be available.
More than 37% of consumers planning to shop on Cyber Monday are doing so simply to avoid the crowds.