1.) Customers are shopping later this year.
“Despite the talk of low inventory, many shoppers seem to be slow to head to the stores this holiday season. According to the survey, 52.4 percent of consumers have not yet begun their holiday shopping, and an additional 21.2 percent said they have completed less than one-tenth of their list.”
2.) It will be imperative to engage plugged in consumers.
“’Consumer behavior has changed, permanently,’ said Lisa Wehr, founder of Oneupweb, an online marketing firm that conducts holiday shopping research. ‘Budget-conscious shoppers are now looking online to conduct their shopping, and they’re searching for product information on social media networks.’”
“Four out of five retailers told the retail group that they’ll offer free shipping with conditions, such as a total purchase minimum, during the holiday season. And more than half of retailers surveyed, 57 percent, said they’ll offer free shipping without imposing conditions on customers.”
4.) Home & Garden categories are down.
“Housing-related categories, such as furniture and home improvement, reported declines.”
“Furniture and home furnishing stores were down 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted for the month-to-month and down 7.6 year-over-year. Similar areas in decline included stores selling building material, garden equipment and supplies, which dipped 2.4 percent from September and dropped 16.6 percent from same period a year ago.”
5.) Consumers are much more patient and will wait for deals.
“’While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans,’ said Tracy Mullin, president of National Federation of Retailers. ‘This holiday season will be a bit of a dance between retailers and shoppers, with each group feeling the other out to understand how things have changed and how they must adapt.’”
“Americans’ eagle-eye on bargain hunting is adjusting the priorities of many shoppers. According to the survey, more than half of holiday shoppers say that sales and price discounts (43.3%) or everyday low prices (12.7%) will be the most important factor when deciding where to shop. Factors like selection (21.0%), quality (11.8%), convenience (4.9%) and customer service (4.4%) declined from last year.”
6.) Nearly all retailers are planning to offer steeper discounts this year.
“Retailers last week gave muted holiday outlooks as they reported third-quarter earnings. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. both said they plan to discount aggressively. J.C. Penney said it expects sales for the quarter that includes the holidays to fall.”
7.) Customers are more likely to opt to use cash for purchases instead of credit cards.
“A shift away from credit cards could make what is expected to be a difficult holiday season even more challenging for retailers. Store clerks have long found that it’s easier to persuade people who are using credit cards instead of cash to spend more than they were intending, says NRF spokeswoman Ellen Davis.”
“According to NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, one-fourth (24.9%) of holiday shoppers will pay for gifts this year with cash, a 9.1 percent increase from last year’s 22.8 percent. In addition, 42.5 percent of shoppers plan to pay primarily with debit or check cards, a 2.5 percent increase from last year. The number of shoppers who will rely on credit cards is expected to fall 10.1 percent, with 28.3 percent of people using credit this year compared to 31.5 percent a year ago.”