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Survey: Consumers saving up for the holidays


NEW YORK — Consumers are planning ahead for the holidays, with 51% saying they have set aside the cash needed to complete their shopping lists, according to Accenture's annual consumer holiday shopping study.

The Accenture holiday shopping survey shows that consumers are expected to spend an average of $582 on holiday shopping this season, and 23% plan to spend more than $750. Half (52%) expect to increase their spending by $250 or more. However, only 5% say they expect to be “extravagant” in their holiday shopping, and only 8% said they would “splurge”.

This year’s survey also found that half (52%) of consumers would be willing to shop online on Thanksgiving Day if retailers offer discounts, and 53% plan to shop on Black Friday, which would reverse a three-year trend of declining interest in Black Friday shopping indicated by Accenture’s previous surveys. In 2011, the survey showed that only 44% of respondents were interested in shopping on Black Friday, down from 47% in 2010 and 52 percent in 2009.

“The U.S. consumer refuses to be counted out and is entering this holiday season better prepared and more willing to open his or her wallet,” said Chris Donnelly, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Self-sacrificing will be down and spending will be slightly up, however, our research also shows that shoppers will remain disciplined in their spending. They will have a desire to maximize the value of their dollar and a hunger for discounts, which will put pressure on retailers’ profits and margins. Retailers need to focus on creating in-store excitement, providing standout products and services, and delivering a seamless experience regardless of which shopping channel the customer uses.”

In order to find the best deals, many shoppers (56%) admit that they will likely to participate in “showrooming” this holiday season, which means that after seeing a product in a physical store, they would search online for the best price and then purchase online. Twent-seven percent of these same shoppers say they would likely make the purchase online, using their smartphone or tablet, while they are still out shopping.

Accenture’s survey offers evidence that pressure on consumers’ finances may be easing as fewer people are planning to cut back on spending for themselves (40%, compared with 46% in 2011 and 52% in 2010).

Further, out of the 63% of consumers who expect to spend the same on their holiday shopping this year, the survey indicates a more positive outlook than last year. Twenty-four percent of those consumers say they are spending the same because living expenses have increased, compared with 34% in 2011. Also, fewer consumers have concerns about the economy (23%, compared with 30% in 2011), and fewer believe that they have less discretionary income this year (30%, compared with 34% in 2011).

Discounts and promotions on holiday gift items remain a driver for the vast majority of shoppers, cited by 82% as important, a slight decrease to the 93% who said the same in 2011. Three quarters of respondents (78%) say that at least half of their holiday shopping purchases will be discounted items, and half (50%) will be looking for a discount between 20% to 40% off the original product price.

Other results from the survey include:

  • Tablets and smartphones will be used by 25% of consumers to buy holiday gifts;

  • One-third (34%) of respondents say they will likely shop on "Cyber Monday;"

  • Three quarters (75%) of shoppers say they will buy gifts at discount retailers; and

  • Nearly one-quarter (23%) of U.S. consumers plan to shop between Black Friday and the end of November.

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