Consumers planning to spread holiday cheer via multiple channels

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Consumers planning to spread holiday cheer via multiple channels

By Marianne Wilson - 10/24/2018
Shoppers plan to up their holiday spend this year, and both online and brick-and-mortar stores stand to benefit.

Consumers say they will spend an average of $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1% from last year, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Consumer spending will fall in three main categories: gifts, at $637.67; non-gift holiday items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards, at $215.04; and other non-gift purchases that take advantage of the deals and promotions throughout the season, at $154.53.

Holiday shoppers are planning to spread their shopping across multiple channels and types of stores, the survey found. An equal number (55%) will shop online and in department stores, while 51% will go to discount stores, 44% to grocery stores, 33% to clothing stores and 24% to electronics stores.

The mix of channels was further evident with 50% of those shopping online saying they will pick up their purchases in-store. Of online shoppers who want the package to come to their home or office, 94% will take advantage of free shipping, 16% will choose expedited shipping and 11% will use same-day delivery.

Tariffs on a wide range of consumer goods from China took effect last month. But NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said that retailers imported record volumes of merchandise ahead of the tariffs this summer, and any effect on pricing during the holiday season is expected to be minimal.

Here are some additional survey highlights:

• Most holiday shoppers (60%) are waiting until at least November to begin browsing and buying items for the season. However, 21% planned to start in October and 18% said they began in September or earlier.

• While sales and discounts remained the largest factor in choosing a particular retailer, cited by 71% quality and selection of merchandise were the next-largest factor (cited by 60%), followed by free shipping (47%) and convenient location (45%).

• For the 12th year in a row, gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 60% of those surveyed, followed by clothing and accessories at 53% books/movies/music (37%), electronics (29%), home décor (23%), jewelry (22%), personal care or beauty items (19%), sporting goods (18%) and home improvement items (17%).

The consumer survey comes on top of NRF’s annual holiday spending forecast, which estimated that holiday retail sales in November and December will be up between 4.3% and 4.8% over 2017 for a total between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion.