“I expect it to be a pretty significant day,” said Bill Martin of ShopperTrak.
Retailers have geared on for a last minute crush keeping stores open until midnight tonight, or in some cases, staying open through until the eve of Saturday, Dec. 24.
Besides the procrastinators, bargain hunters are expected to descend into stores Saturday, and again on Monday as retailers begin offering even greater discounts.
“They will find 40% to 50% off selected merchandize, but that is quite different from a few years ago when the stores were taking off 60% to 70%” Martin said.
“Consumers are back in shopping mode this week,” said Jackie Fernandez, a retail partner at Deloitte & Touche. “They’ve been conditioned by retailers over the years that the closer we get to the holidays, the more things go on sale.”
Warmer, Drier Weekend May Help Sales
Moreover, many retailers will be open at 7 a.m. Monday, Dec. 26, when millions of shoppers come in to return or exchange gifts or even use their newly gifted gift cards.
Last year “International Exchange Day” fell on a Sunday, a conflict with religious services and ballgames–not to mention a major blizzard that struck the East Coast hampering post Christmas sales.
Fortunately, Planalystics, which monitors the weather impact on retail sales, predicts that no major snowstorms are on the forecast, in fact, this has been one of the warmest and driest holiday seasons on record.
“It’s going to be hugely better after last year was a wipeout for about 15% of the country,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consulting firm. That could boost sales in stores and online on Dec. 26 from an estimated $20 billion last year to $29 billion and make it the year’s largest shopping day, he added.
Last minute shoppers aren’t necessarily looking just for bargains. In its 2011 Holiday Poll of 1,011 adults nationwide between Dec. 15 to18, Consumer Reports found about 25% of respondents still planned to shop on Christmas Eve.
With time running out, 45% said they would most likely to give a gift card to fill the void.
Interestingly, 44% of procrastinating shoppers will spend more than they had planned to when forced shopping for a last-minute gift. “As desperation sets in, shoppers are also less inclined to look for bargains,” Consumer Reports found, noting that 25% of those surveyed couldn’t care less about an 11th hour deal. “They just want to be done shopping and grab whatever they can get their hands on.”