Washington–There may have been blaring headlines about the government budgets, potential defaults and gridlock, but consumers still turned out to take advantage of early holiday promotions in October.
According to National Retail Federation (NRF)’s holiday consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, 53.8% of shoppers already have started shopping. Just 46.2% say they have yet to start, the smallest percentage in the survey’s history.
With plans to spend slightly less than last year, consumers will shop for both value and price when checking items off their holiday lists. The most popular choice: clothing and clothing accessories. According to the survey, nearly 6 in 10 (60.7%) consumers will splurge on fashion and apparel and other accessories.
Gift Cards Still Popular
Another 59.2% of holiday shoppers say they will opt for gift cards, which have come in as the most-requested gift item for seven years in a row. Additionally, 44.3% say they will buy toys, 23.3% will buy jewelry items, and 19% percent will buy sporting goods and leisure items.
“Shopping early has become a very real trend with consumers today as they look for ways to spread out their budget, and retailers have answered their call with attractive holiday offerings as early as October,” said NRF President/CEO Matthew Shay.
Other hope items on shopping lists according to the NRF: tablets and even smart watches. One third (33%) will buy electronics and/or computer items and accessories, up from 31.8% last year and the highest percent seen since 2006.
“Even with smaller budgets this year, consumers will still splurge on popular discretionary-type gifts for their friends and family, but will shop around and compare prices as they’ve done for years,” said Prosper’s Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Looking for inspiration online and on their social media channels, many budget-conscious shoppers will also look for ways to surprise their loved ones with homemade and personal gifts.”
Social Media Influence
While consumers are searching for the best deals and discounts, they have been planning their budgets ahead of time, too. The survey found shoppers prefer to use money they already have or have saved up to purchase holiday gifts, consistent with results seen over past three years. More than 4 in 10 (43.7%) will rely on debit cards when whopping. An additional 25.4% will use cash and 2.4% will use a check. Nearly 3 in 10 (28.5%) will charge their gifts.
When it comes to looking for inspiration for holiday gifts, traditional search methods will prevail, but tips from social media will be popular as well. According to the survey, 47.9% of consumers said they will look for holiday gift ideas online and 36% will check out retailers’ advertising circulars.
Two in 10 (22.2%) look through magazines for ideas, 21.5% will look into email advertisements and 14% will use Facebook. Proving they are still seen as a value to shoppers, more than one-third (33.7%) of consumers say they will seek ideas from catalogs. Additionally, 10.1% will use retailers’ apps, up from 8.7% last year, and 7.2% percent will use Pinterest, up from 5.8% last year. www.nrf.com
About the Survey
The NRF 2013 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 6,201 consumers and was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics November 1 to 7. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 percentage points.