Survey: Retailers Can Expect Fewer Black Friday Shoppers

Philadelphia—The Black Friday hype seems to be at a hyper pitch this year, heightened by retailers such as Walmart and Target moving up openings till the evening of the once sacrosanct Thanksgiving holiday.

While the National Retail Federation (NRF) released Thursday it preliminary Black Friday shopping survey, that claims up to 147 million people plan to shop Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), a slight decrease from the 152 million who shopped last year, another consumer study found than less than one fifth (19%) plan to shop Black Friday.

In fact, only a third (38%) say they will “definitely” or “probably” shop on Black Friday, while 60% won’t bother battling crowds the day after Thanksgiving.

A lower turnout on Black Friday may be symptomatic of a general pull back in spending, according to the second annual PeriscopeIQ Retail Intelligence Survey released this week. According to this nationwide report, consumers say they will spend less on holiday shopping this year, spend less per gift, and buy fewer gifts.

Even before Hurricane Sandy cut into retail sales in the Northeast, 24% of consumers said they would spend less on holiday shopping this year. Nearly three-fifths (58%) say they will spend the same overall and only 14% say they will increase holiday spending from 2011 levels.

Moreover, the “Grinches” (17%) plan to purchase fewer gifts than last year while more than a fifth (22%), are planning on reducing their expenditures per gift.

“Even before the disastrous hurricane, the PeriscopeIQ Retail Intelligence Survey results suggested a weak holiday season, resulting in a one-two punch for retailers who are already dealing with margin erosion due to showrooming, price matching and pre-shopping with mobile and online technologies,” said Dr. Pawan Singh, ceo/chief scientist at PeriscopeIQ, a consumer intelligence company.

Mid-Atlantic Retailers May Need Aggressive Pricing Post Sandy

“With more than half of our respondents equipped with smartphones, the multi-channel world is a boon to holiday shoppers, but it can also be an advantage to retailers who address physical, mobile and online customer experiences with equal diligence,” Singh said. “However, retailers will have to start pricing more aggressively earlier to bring storm-impacted shoppers back to stores in the Mid-Atlantic region.”

PeriscopeIQ’s findings consist of a representative survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers age 18 and older conducted annually on behalf of its major retail clients.  Among the noteworthy findings in this year’s poll:

●QR Code Red? While retailers and marketers are printing QR codes on ads, point-of-sale items and price tags, the study found that  nearly three-fifths (59%) of shoppers don’t know what they are or what they do. Furthermore, less than a fifth, 18%, said they had ever used one in a retail environment, although 60% own smartphones with built-in scanners or apps.

“QR codes haven’t lived up to their potential as a way to access coupons or provide suitable product information, in part due to lack of understanding or because the experience is unsatisfactory,” said Mohamed Latib, PeriscopeIQ’s chief operating officer.  “We believe that QR codes will continue to evolve but the actual 2D code will be transformed by a newer, more efficient technology in the near future.”

●Work Shopping: As many as 40% of respondents admitted to shopping online at work during the holidays and year-round. In fact, more than a quarter of those say they shop more than 15 minutes daily. Half of respondents ages 18 to 34 spend as much as 20 minutes daily shopping online.

●Higher gas prices also are giving consumers pause: 40% say that current gas pricing will impact how far they will drive for a bargain. Gasoline availability can also be expected to affect the holiday shopping of consumers affected by Hurricane Sandy.

●Free Shipping is a near unanimous factor for consumers deciding where to shop online. A full 95% said that free shipping is an important factor in deciding from which websites to make their purchases.

“While the number of online shoppers in the survey is about even from last year, bricks and mortar retailers will need to continue to maintain this feature in their arsenals,” Singh added.

Smartphones mean smarter shoppers? Consumers are becoming savvier shoppers with 41% pre-shopping online vs. only 27% doing so last year.

Using their Smartphones inside stores, some, but not a huge number, are leveraging their devices to the frustration of retailers who face instances of “showrooming.” For example, 33% say they check prices at other stores or at websites. A similar number (36%) are using their phones to take pictures of merchandise, presumably for feedback from friends or family, or for comparison shopping.

But fewer than 5% are using their smart phones as mobile wallets with services such as Google Wallet or Passbook.

“Like” it or Not: Only 24% said they go online for reviews of products and services while shopping at a store. “This indicates that, while consumers rely somewhat on the Internet for information, if only a minority consult reviews while shopping, many buyers aren’t getting the full picture on positive and negative aspects of their purchases,” Singh said.

Power of Print: Despite the growth of electronic shopping and new technologies, an interesting finding is that when it comes to product information, sales and other shopping information: nearly three-fifths (58%) still rely on print magazines and newspapers. This is more than twice the number who look at online reviews while shopping.

About PeriscopeIQ 2012 Retail Intelligence Survey Methodology

The PeriscopeIQ 2012 Retail Intelligence Survey measured anticipated holiday shopping activity and also has detailed information on year-round online purchasing habits and the ways in which Americans use social media, Smartphones and other mobile devices when shopping.

The sample was randomly selected from a voluntary online consumer panel and was designed to be representative of the entire U.S. population of adults age 18 and older. With, according to Pew Internet Tracking, 85% of adults now online, the online audience differs very little from the total adult population. Survey responses from 49 states were adjusted slightly to match national demographic data on gender, age and income to further strengthen the validity of results.

The statistical margin of error for a conventionally fielded random digit dial telephone survey of the same size is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Pawan Singh, Ph.D., PeriscopeIQ CEO and Chief Scientist and James P. Murphy, Ph.D., director of research, jointly managed the survey. PeriscopeIQ is a provider of advanced web-based solutions that transform customer experience and employee feedback into actionable insight through its powerful on-demand analytical engine and fully customizable Voice of the Customer (VOC) and Voice of the Employee (VOE) solutions. The PeriscopeIQ platform and methodology have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies and global organizations, including: Boston Scientific, Halliburton, Kohl’s, Project Management Institute, Seagate Technology, Unilever, The Wharton School, The World Bank, and The World Health Organization. www.periscopeIQ.com.

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