NEW YORK, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Retailers may have additional reason to celebrate this holiday season as more consumers give the economy a vote of confidence, according to Deloitte's 27th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends.
One-half (50 percent) of consumers surveyed expect the economy will improve next year, up from just one-third (33 percent) heading into the holiday season last year. The number of consumers planning to spend less on the holidays (37 percent) is at the lowest level since 2006.
The shopping season, however, is not without its potential challenges for retailers, including the 2012 presidential election. One-quarter (24 percent) of survey respondents will delay their shopping until the election has been decided. This course of action, however, is unlikely to soften holiday budgets. One-half (50 percent) of consumers indicate the election will not change their spending plans and 23 percent remain undecided whether the election will affect how much they spend.
"Consumers appear to be turning a corner and are more confident about the economy," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. "Recent improvements in housing, employment and the stock market may have buoyed their spirits, but their optimism is somewhat tempered as they keep an eye on energy costs and possible tax increases. The election may initially distract consumers, but we expect them to give retailers a post-election 'bounce' once their attention turns to the holidays and shopping."
Gifts may come in bigger packages; Omnichannel shoppers to ring up the most on gifts
Americans may wrap fewer packages this holiday season, but the value of the gifts they buy could increase.
Survey respondents' gift spending remains similar to last year at $386, down just slightly from $395 in 2011. The average number of gifts consumers plan to purchase fell to 12.8 from 14.7 last year, a number that has declined steadily from 23.1 in 2007.
"Omnichannel" shoppers may bring retailers the most holiday cheer. The average gift spend among consumers surveyed who plan to hit the Internet, their smartphones and stores this holiday season is $600 – a healthy 71 percent higher than those who plan to shop only in stores.
While the economy may be affecting fewer consumers' spending plans, the hunt for bargains remains a holiday tradition. This year, 44 percent of shoppers indicate that because they expect merchandise will eventually go "on sale," they will only buy sale items, and nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) also expect store associates to match prices.
"Consumers have come to expect value at a good price, and the stakes are high for retailers to keep promotions fresh throughout the season," continued Paul. "Early holiday messages may take a back seat while the election dominates the airwaves, giving retailers one more reason to play their digital channels' strengths this year. Online and mobile channels can more precisely target customers, and at a lower cost than traditional media. Additionally, retailers can adjust more easily throughout the season—fine tuning promotions and introducing new ones online."
Gift cards, cash top consumers' wish lists; Discount stores, Internet reign as shopping destinations
Consumers appear willing to give the gifts that have been popular in previous seasons, but are hoping the gifts they receive will fit right in their wallets.
Topping the list of items surveyed consumers wish to receive are gift cards/certificates (45 percent) and cash (43 percent). When purchasing gifts, just over one-half of shoppers indicate they plan to buy clothing (51 percent), followed by gift cards/certificates (47 percent), electronics (35 percent) and books (34 percent).
When shopping for the holidays, more than one-half of consumers surveyed (51 percent) plan to head to discount stores, followed by the Internet (45 percent), making these the top two shopping destinations again this year.
Although the shopping season will be longer this year with five weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas, shoppers do not expect to lose steam as the season wears on. Nearly 3 in 10 (28 percent) of survey respondents expect to participate in Black Friday shopping, though the majority of their purchases will come later. Almost 6 in 10 (58 percent), plan to shop in December, and among them, one-quarter (25 percent) will shop after Christmas. Additionally, 12 percent of consumers say they will do some holiday shopping in January.
For more information about Deloitte's annual holiday survey, including additional statistics, historical data and useful links, please visit http://www.deloitte.com/us/2012HolidaySurvey.
About the Survey
The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company between September 14 and 24, 2012. The survey polled a sample of 5,089 consumers and has a margin of error for the entire sample of plus or minus one percentage point.
About Deloitte's Retail & Distribution Practice
Deloitte is a leading presence in the retail and distribution industry, providing audit, consulting, risk management, financial advisory and tax services to 80 percent of the Fortune 500 retailers. With more than 1,400 professionals, Deloitte's retail & distribution practice provides insights, services and solutions assisting retailers across major subsectors including apparel, grocery, food and drug, wholesale and distribution and online. For more information about Deloitte's retail & distribution sector, please visit www.deloitte.com/us/retail-distribution.
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