NEW YORK, Oct. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Shoppers may be spreading more holiday cheer this fall, while offers like free shipping, free returns and in-store pickup will help make the Internet the top holiday shopping destination for the first time, according to Deloitte's 28th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends.
Shoppers surveyed plan to shell out an average of $421 on holiday gifts this year, up from $386 last year. They also expect to buy an average of 12.9 gifts, ending a five-year decline in the number of gifts they plan to purchase.
Another positive sign in holiday shopping: an increase in discretionary and non-gift spending. The amount consumers plan to spend on non-gift items for themselves or their families rose 14 percent from 2012, while spending on home and holiday furnishings jumped 25 percent from last year.
Additionally, consumers appear more confident in the economy's prospects. More than half (54 percent) believe the economy is on the rebound, an increase of 22 percentage points in the past two years.
"The survey reveals a brighter consumer spending outlook than we've seen in several years," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. "Consumers are feeling more generous about gift spending, and we are encouraged by their plans to spend more on going out for celebrations, decorating their homes and treating themselves and their families to 'early gifts' while holiday shopping this year. The government shutdown and debt crisis had the potential to dampen consumer sentiment, however, the settlement likely averted any significant impact on the holiday season. The timely resolution of those issues may also give consumers an extra confidence boost just as promotions start hitting the stores and the shopping season gets underway."
Internet tops shopping destinations, ousts discount stores
The Internet moved into the top spot among holiday shopping destinations for the first time in its 15 years represented in the survey, bumping discount/value department stores from the No. 1 position. Nearly half (47 percent) of consumers plan to purchase items online, followed by 44 percent at discount/value stores.
When choosing where to shop, consumers are motivated by more than just a bargain, emphasizing factors like convenience and selection. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of consumers cite convenience as a reason for shopping online, followed by price (63 percent).
The omnichannel shopper is most likely to make retailers' spirits bright. Those who shop a combination of store, Internet and mobile channels plan to spend a total of $1,643 on the holidays, 76 percent higher than those who shop in the store only.
Despite higher spending potential, online shoppers will challenge retailers to be on their game when it comes to product selection and availability. Nearly eight in 10 (77 percent) consumers say that if a product is not available on a store's website, they will go elsewhere, while only 13 percent would go to that same retailer's store. In addition, 45 percent of all respondents indicate they would switch to an entirely different store chain or website if they can't find the desired item in a retailer's store.
"Shoppers put a premium on both their time and the shopping experience," continued Paul. "That shift bodes well for retailers as it suggests shoppers are no longer exclusively price driven. However, immediacy, service and selection will be paramount this year, and retailers need to offer a seamless, easy to navigate experience between their online, mobile and brick-and-mortar channels. This season's winners will use both their stores and distribution centers as virtual warehouses to quickly replenish inventory on hot sellers, shift slow-moving items to other locations, and/or ship an out-of-stock item directly to the customer."
Free shipping, price matching, extended store hours, in-store pick up on shoppers' wish lists
Despite greater confidence in the economy's prospects, improved spending intentions and a focus on convenience, consumers still rank promotions high on their shopping lists. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of consumers say their holiday spending will be influenced by coupons or promotional offers.
More than seven in 10 (71 percent) say they plan to take advantage of free shipping offers, while nearly half (47 percent) expect free returns. More than four in 10 (44 percent) shoppers intend to take retailers up on price-matching guarantees, 36 percent will shop extended hours and 35 percent plan to order online for in-store pickup.
Retailers may also have good reason to roll out the promotions early this year: the number of consumers who say they expect to complete the majority of their shopping by early November (30 percent) rose five percentage points from last year. One-quarter (25 percent) of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday and 24 percent plan to do so on Cyber Monday, however nearly one-half (45 percent) indicate that Black Friday isn't as important as it used to be.
For more information about Deloitte's annual holiday survey, including additional statistics, historical data and useful links, please visit http://www.deloitte.com/us/2013HolidaySurvey.
About the Survey
The Holiday Survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research organization between September 13 and 23, 2013. The survey polled a national sample of 5,018 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 nearly 75 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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