Gone are the days of clear trends in buying habits or popular gift items. Today’s shoppers are pickier and more informed than ever while gifts are more need-based and better researched, thanks to mobile technology. There’s no early front runner for a hot toy, or sure-to-sell-out gift item, but there are some trends to watch. According to Forbes, it won’t be a year of blockbuster sales gains or dramatic, unpredicted price cuts. The Great Recession has taught shoppers a lot of lessons. We’re more restrained, better able to stick to a budget, devoted to discounts and better planners — all trends that will play out this holiday season.
Shoppers will spend even less this year than last.
There are a number of holiday forecasts out there from respectable tracking agencies predicting increased holiday spending for 2013, but the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that shoppers plan to trim holiday spending by 2% from last year. The NRF’s numbers are significant as the organization’s forecasts are usually the most optimistic of the bunch. If the public face of the retail industry is being conservative, it’s time to take note. Still, the NRF says overall holiday spending will increase 6.9% to $602 billion this year.
Self-gifting is on the decline.
Shoppers will cut back on impulse buys for themselves, according to another interesting tidbit from the NRF annual holiday survey. Shoppers have gotten better at sticking to a budget and treating themselves to something because the deals are too good to pass up. “Consumers have had years of practice when it comes to managing tight budgets while still spending on items they need to, whether it be gifts or groceries for the family,” said Prosper Insights Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Retailers can expect to see practical and refined attitudes from their customers this holiday season as families make thoughtful decisions about what they need to buy and what they can pass on.”
Discounts rule more than ever.
According to Accenture's annual shopping survey, even those planning to spend more this year than last, will be hunting for deals. In fact, 62% of respondents said it will take a discount of 30% or more to persuade them to make a purchase, up 10% from 2012. The survey shows that bargain-conscious U.S. shoppers are tracking prices very carefully and 39% said that if they discover that an item they have already purchased is subsequently offered at a lower price, they would likely return it and repurchase it. Additionally, 45% said they plan to use competitor price-matching tools to track prices, and 24% said they will take advantage of extended return policies.
We’re shopping earlier.
Fueled by savvy shoppers being better planners and retailers engineering the season to begin ever earlier, this trend is here to say. When the NRF asked shoppers why they shop early for holiday items, most said it was to better spread out their gift budget or take advantage of prices and promotions too good to pass up. When Target, Macy's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's announced they would be open on Thanksgiving day this year, many consumers cried foul. But stores wouldn’t be doing it if there was no value in it. According to Accenture, U.S. consumers are increasingly embracing the concept of shopping on Thanksgiving Day and evening. Among those planning to hit the shops on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday, 38% expect to visit four or more stores and more than one-third plan to shop before midnight on Thanksgiving Day.
This will be an omnichannel holiday.
Online, in-store and mobile retail initiatives are all coming together provide a seamless shopping experience. It’s what consumers expect and retailers are working hard to oblige them. Nordstrom, Macy’s, Target, Walmart and Best Buy are all considered among the best retailers in providing a seamless experience. Retailers, like Nordstrom, value their web presence as much more than a sales outlet. Nordstrom is strengthening online operations to help grow in-store and overall sales, while further cementing its relationship with shoppers. Shoppers can buy online, pick up in stores, enjoy ubiquitous returns and price match with other stores and sites. It’s not perfect, not yet, but this holiday will be much improved over the last. Source: Forbes.com