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Ideal combination to boost holiday spending

A robust stock market and high levels of consumer confidence means good news for retailers this holiday season. But that doesn't mean Black Friday will be a blow-out.

Holiday spending is expected to double this year over last, according to an annual report from Brand Keys, a New York-based brand loyalty and customer engagement research consultancy.

“Generally good economic news has consumers signaling a 4% increase in their holiday spend this year to an average of $936 per household,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys.

The survey also found that consumers have adopted new shopping patterns when it comes to the holidays and calendar events, particularly the winter holidays. Last year, 41% of consumers reported shopping before Black Friday. This year that number has increased significantly, with just over half the consumers (51%) reporting they had already shopped or intended to do so before Black Friday, a shopping period known as ‘Black November.’

“Super Saturday has overtaken Black Friday in actual sales,” noted Passikoff. “So while Black Friday represents a retail raison d’être, it is fast becoming a relic of twentieth century retailing.”

As a result, a smaller percentage of consumers (20%, down 5% from last year) have indicated they are actually shopping on Black Friday. Twenty-nine percent (29%) of respondents indicated that they will holiday shop in December, the largest specific shopping period identified by consumers in the 2017 Brand Keys survey.

Virtually all consumers interviewed (98%) are buying online again this year. As in past years, consumers also intend to use multiple venues for holiday shopping, starting with discount department stores (95% of surveyed consumers, same as last year), specialty & apparel stores (75%, up 30% from last year) and traditional department stores (73%, down 10%). Twenty-five percent of consumers expect to shop electronics stores (up 5%), and 24% warehouse clubs (up 4%).

When it came to time periods consumers will holiday shop, they reported the following (percentages in parentheses indicate changes from 2016 data):

Before September: 6% (+2%)
September: 7% (+2%)
October: 16% (+5%)
November (before Black Friday): 22% (+1%)
Black Friday 20% (- 5%)
December: 29% (- 5%)

Just as in holiday seasons past, value is paramount for all platforms. Consumer expectations regarding outreach and convenience are up again. Free shipping and returns, order online-pickup-in-store or ship-to-store options will have holiday shoppers’ attention again.

"Expectations for the shopping experience for brick-and-mortar retail are also up again,” Passikoff said. “Retailers that can provide a sense of consumer comfort, confidence and shopping ease will see better bottom lines.”
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