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October 03, 2012

Surveys Predict Jolly Holiday Season for Retailers Despite U.S. Economy

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Retailers this week got some good news from a new survey, which shows that 62 percent of U.S. consumers plan to spend more than or as much as they did last holiday season.

The PriceGrabber survey on the 2012 winter holiday shopping season said 50 percent of consumers plan to spend the same amount that they spent last year, and 12 percent plan to spend more.

In addition, more consumers will use the Internet to look at products and prices before they purchase items for the holiday.

Some 2,235 consumers took part in the online survey.

Of the 12 percent who plan to spend more this holiday season, 42 percent said they’re making more money this year, 34 percent attributed their decision to lower prices, 22 percent said they have confidence in the economy, 13 percent said they will spend more because of credit limit increases, and 8 percent said they were tired of being frugal.

Of those shoppers who plan to spend less money on holiday shopping, 62 percent explained it was because of increases in prices for food, gas and other necessities. Forty-one percent said they are earning less money this year and 39 percent said they expect to spend less because there is more acceptance of giving less-expensive gifts.

In addition, 64 percent of the consumers said the overall economy will influence their spending.

Consumers are expecting decent discounts during their holiday shopping, as well. Some 67 percent of consumers expect retailers will offer better prices and discounts this year. Some 77 percent of consumers anticipate free shipping, 74 percent price cuts, 55 percent coupons, and 44 percent significant discounts.

"Our survey data found that shoppers are not only expecting to find great prices and bargains this holiday season, but 59 percent of consumers plan to start shopping even earlier this year to spread out the impact of purchases, compared to 53 percent in 2011," Rojeh Avanesian, vice president of marketing and analytics at PriceGrabber, said in a company statement. "Our data indicates that 17 percent of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping in September and 31 percent plan to begin in October this year."

Some 88 percent of those surveyed will research their purchases online. Thirty-eight percent plan to spend three to six hours researching, 29 percent up to two hours, 19 percent over 10 hours and 14 percent between seven and 10 hours.

"Our survey findings indicate that consumers are still budget conscience and will continue to do their research to find the best pricing on products when holiday shopping this year," Avanesian said in a statement carried on TMCnet. "By comparison-shopping on a Website such as PriceGrabber.com or visiting the number of discount retailers available online, consumers can find deals, compare prices, set price alerts, print coupons, and take advantage of online promotional codes and free shipping to save extra cash."

In related news, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has predicted that holiday sales in November and December will be 4.1 percent higher this year than last.

“This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession. In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Variables including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the ‘fiscal cliff’ and concern relating to future economic growth could all combine to affect consumers’ spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers.”

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Edited by Braden Becker
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