U.S. shoppers expect to spend 9.1 percent more on holiday gifts this year, with more consumers planning to buy gifts online than at discount stores for the first time ever, according to a survey from Deloitte LLP.
Shoppers foresee spending $421 on gifts this holiday season, New York-based Deloitte said, citing a survey of 5,018 consumers conducted Sept. 13 to Sept. 23, before the U.S. government shutdown. About 47 percent of consumers expect to make purchases online, while 44 percent plan to buy presents at discount stores.
Online shopping overtook traditional retailing for the first time in the survey’s 15 years as consumers seek lower prices available over the Internet and the convenience of shopping anytime, anywhere. About 76 percent of respondents cited convenience as a reason for shopping online, and 63 percent cited price.
“Shoppers put a premium on both their time and shopping experience,” Alison Paul, who leads Deloitte’s retail group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. She said the increased use of smartphones led to a jump in online shopping this year.
Consumers who shop using the Internet, mobile devices and in stores are likely to spend 76 percent more than those who only visit retail locations, according to the survey. Almost 8 in 10 shoppers say they will go elsewhere if a product isn’t available on a store’s website.
People plan to hit the stores early this year, too. About 30 percent say they’ll complete the majority of their holiday shopping by early November, an increase of five percentage points from last year. One-quarter of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Those shoppers are being drawn by retailers that are starting sales earlier than ever, with some chains rolling out promotions as early as Nov. 1 to take advantage of the shorter holiday shopping season, according to Chicago-based researcher ShopperTrak.
Promotional offers will affect the shopping decisions of 73 percent of customers, about the same as last year, Paul said.
Deloitte’s survey, conducted before the U.S. government’s 16-day shutdown, showed 54 percent of consumers say the economy is rebounding, an increase of 22 percentage points in the past two years. While the shutdown may have affected sentiment, Deloitte economists project it wasn’t enough to derail the economy during the holiday season, Paul said.
The monthly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index expectations gauge released on Oct. 17 fell to minus 31, the lowest since November 2011. The gauge showed 47 percent of respondents said the economy was going to get worse.
The shutdown affected consumers’ spending and holiday shopping plans, according to surveys released by the National Retail Federation and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. last week. The NRF survey showed 29 percent of consumers said the situation would affect their holiday spending plans, while the survey commissioned by Goldman found two out of five Americans cut spending during the standoff.
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