Holiday sales are expected to increase by 4.1 percent this year, according to the National Retail Federation, with more shoppers than ever before turning to online retailers.
The NRF’s holiday consumer spending survey found that more than half (51.8 percent) of consumers will shop online in the coming weeks, the highest amount in the survey’s 10-year history.
When asked why they would be more inclined to shop online this holiday season, nearly four in 10 shoppers said 24-hour convenience is a main reason, and more than one-third said they specifically choose to shop online because of free shipping offers. Additional online shopping advantages given by consumers included avoiding holiday crowds and being able to easily compare prices.
With consumers now accustomed to living on a budget and compensating by cutting back on non-essential purchases, using coupons and searching for deals, the number of shoppers who say the state of the U.S. economy will affect their spending plans is actually down from last year, dropping from 62.2 percent in 2011 to 52.3 this year.
“We’ve seen this pattern of cautious optimism all year and despite the challenges that still exist in our economy, it looks as if consumers are eager to celebrate with friends and family,” says Shay. “As the most promotional time of the year, retailers will continue to look for ways to stand out, specifically with attractive deals on toys, electronics and apparel, even well before the official start of the holiday shopping season–Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”
In fact, the NRF reports that in an effort to offset economic concerns, shoppers will start looking for gifts earlier than in past years to allow time for price comparison and deal-hunting.
Half (50.1 percent) of consumers polled in Shop.org’s eHoliday survey said they would begin their online holiday shopping by Halloween with another 43.2 percent starting in November.
“Whether to assist in sticking to a budget or to ensure they get that much-desired gift or simply because the deals are hard to pass up, consumers enjoy shopping early and it appears this might be the perfect holiday season to do just that,” says Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director, BIGinsight, which conducted the Shop.org survey.
To capitalize on these trends online retailers are ramping up their efforts to attract eager shoppers with free shipping deals and other exclusive online promotions. According to Shop.org’s eHoliday survey, six in 10 online retailers will start their online holiday marketing promotions by Halloween, up nearly 9 percent from 2011.
“For retailers, there is no better time to shine than the holiday season, and it’s evident that online retailers are already planning to go the extra mile for their customers this year,” says Vicki Cantrell, executive director, Shop.org. “Consumers can expect even more of an integrated shopping experience this holiday season with companies also looking to enhance their mobile marketing efforts to capture the attention of the millions of holiday shoppers who are already thinking about their shopping lists.”