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December 14, 2012

Is 'Fiscal Cliff' Affecting Holiday Shopping?

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

With ten days and counting until Christmas, and only a few more than that before the U.S. goes off what is being called the “Fiscal Cliff” if the country’s politicians can’t get their act together as polls show most Americans want, you might be wondering how the uncertainty on Capitol Hill is impacting Main Street’s approach to holiday shopping. Well thanks to SOASTA, the Web and mobile performance and analytics company (which helps six out of the top ten retailers tailor their websites), we have an interesting view on all of this.

SOASTA (News - Alert) commissioned research firm Harris Interactive to answer some questions many inquiring minds in the retailing and tech industries are, to say the least, curious about. The results of the survey of 2,893 Americans from Dec. 11-13 were illuminating. 

As a holiday gift of my own, here without any spin and unabridged, are the highlights.  

As to the Fiscal Cliff:

  • 83 percent have concerns about the Fiscal Cliff
  • 50 percent said the Fiscal Cliff has had no effect on their holiday shopping decisions
  • 30 percent say the Fiscal Cliff is make them buy less for the holidays
  • 17 percent say they have no concerns about the Fiscal Cliff
  • 2 percent say the Fiscal Cliff made them buy more
  • 1 percent say the Fiscal Cliff made them buy much more

In fact, when asked, “What do you think this year’s holiday shopping season so far says about the economy?” Americans said:

  • 40 percent believe the economy is get better
  • 31 percent said the economy unchanged
  • 18 percent said the holiday shopping season shows the economy is getting worse

 Also interesting - the most popular time to shop for holiday gifts isn’t Black Friday (News - Alert) or Cyber Monday – but right now:

  • 54 percent of Americans say they will shop between now and Christmas Day
  • 37 percent shopped for holiday gifts before Thanksgiving
  • 24 percent shopped for holiday gifts on Black Friday
  • 23 percent shopped for holiday gifts on Cyber Monday (News - Alert)
  • 10 percent shopped for holiday gifts on Green Monday (Dec. 10)
  • 7 percent shopped for holiday gifts on Thanksgiving
  • 2 percent will shop for holiday gifts on Dec. 26
  • 3 percent will shop for holiday gifts on Dec. 27 and beyond

Online shopping beat traditional brick and mortar stores this shopping season with 55 percent of Americans saying they did their holiday shopping online versus the 46 percent who did it in a brick and mortar store. 

Meanwhile, 12 percent of Americans admit they are going to make homemade gifts this year.

  • For Americans who shopped online for the holidays from a computer, 35 percent said the retail websites performed better than last year while 7 percent said they performed worse.  Fifty-five percent of Americans noticed no change.
  • For Americans who shopping online for the holidays from a smartphone, 59 percent said retail websites performed better than last year while 6percent said they performed worse. Twenty-six percent said there was no change.
  • For Americans using tablets for online shopping for the holidays, 44 percent said retail websites performed better than last year while 3 percent said they performed worse.  Thirty-four percent said there was no change.
  • It’s worth noting that the percentage of Americans who own smartphones is now equal to the percentage of Americans who own regular mobile phones – 46 percent to 46 percent.
  • Also – 90 percent of Americans plan to give a holiday gift this year.

Just as one personal note: TMCnet had our annual holiday office party yesterday which featured a Secret Santa swap with a twist—like the old TV show Let’s Make a Deal, you could keep what you had or “redistribute” the various items that had come before your selection by appropriating something that caught your eye. I will not reveal in detail the time this took (a lot), level of fun had (off the chart) or tactics (turns out I work with people who know what they like and have significant determination) except to say at the end of this enhanced version of musical chairs, I possessed a gift card to Amazon, which, despite the presence of some superb libations and other great gifts, was precisely what I wanted. 

The point of this ramble is that I used it to purchase some nice for a special someone, and I did it over my smartphone. It is nice to know just how not alone I am in behaving this way. 

Happy holiday shopping!

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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