Grocers Should Expect Increased Holiday Traffic

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Grocers Should Expect Increased Holiday Traffic


Food retailers will be among the beneficiaries of savvy shoppers using a renewed focus on value to get the best bang for their buck this holiday season.

That’s according to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, which reveals that holiday shoppers say they plan to shell out an average of $704.18 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise, down slightly from last year’s $718.98. NRF is still forecasting overall holiday retail sales to grow 2.8 percent during the months of November and December to $465.6 billion.

Additionally, nearly six in 10 holiday shoppers say they plan to take advantage of retailers’ sales and discounts to make additional non-gift purchases for themselves and their families during the holiday season. The average person will spend approximately $130.43 during the holiday season to take advantage of sales and discounts on apparel, electronics, home goods and other items for themselves or a family member, up from $112.20 last year.

“When it comes to retail growth this holiday season, slow and steady wins the race – and the same is true for shoppers, who are meticulously calculating the best ways to stretch their dollar,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Knowing their customers are more focused than ever on value, retailers will entice shoppers with promotions that go beyond discounts, whether they’re promoting free gifts with purchase, an extended warranty, or stellar customer service.”

According to the survey, the largest portion of a consumer’s holiday budget will go toward gifts for family members, with the average person expected to shell out $403.26 on kids, parents and other family members. Friends, co-workers and even the family pet can expect something nice this year as well; holiday celebrants will spend an average of $68.23 on friends, $21.06 on co-workers, and $23.39 on other gifts. Consumers will also spend on decorations ($46.73), greeting cards ($26.52), candy and food ($96.75), and flowers ($18.23).

With wish lists in hand and a set budget in mind, people this year plan to shop around with a variety of retailers for holiday gifts and merchandise. Department stores, with unique private-label offerings, will see an increase in traffic over last year (56.9 percent vs. 54.5 percent last year), as will clothing or accessory stores (35.2 percent vs. 33.6 percent), drug stores (21.1 vs. 18.9), and grocery stores and supermarkets (48.8 vs. 46.7), and most will head to discount stores (66.1 vs. 65.1). Crafts and fabric stores will benefit from those looking to make personal and thoughtful gifts (17.5 vs. 16.1 percent).

“In 2009 it was all about personal and practical and last year consumers wanted to treat their loved ones to something special - this year, it’s a little bit of both,” said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director, BIGresearch. “Limited budgets and a desire to make the most out of gift-giving will drive consumers to shop at a variety of retailers while also thinking outside the box for great gift ideas.”

For recipients, gifts small and large are expected to make big impressions this year. For the fifth year in a row – and at the highest level in the survey’s history – 57.7 percent of shoppers say they’d like to receive a gift card this holiday season. Other items on consumers’ wish lists include clothing or clothing accessories (50 percent), consumer electronics or computer-related accessories (35.4 percent), jewelry (22.8 percent) and personal care items (19.3 percent).

When asked which one factor will be most important when shopping this holiday season, sales or price discounts largely win out (41.6 percent), but customer service (6.0 percent vs. 5.3 percent last year) and quality of merchandise (14.6 vs. 12.7) are continuing to become more vital components in consumers’ decision making processes, highlighting the growing importance of value when it comes to gift and everyday shopping.

As the internet quickly becomes a destination for time-strapped shoppers, more people will seek out retailers’ holiday deals on the Internet this year; nearly half will buy online, up from 43.9 percent last year. Additionally, the average holiday shopper plans to do 36 percent of their shopping online, whether they’re comparing prices, researching products or actually making a purchase. Online shoppers plan to spend more as well; the average person who will shop online this holiday season will spend about 22 percent more than those consumers who only plan to shop in stores. Adults age 25 to 34, many of whom have small children and crave convenience, will complete 43.7 percent of their holiday shopping online, the most of any age group.

Each year, nearly 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween, and this year is no different with 38.9 percent of celebrants having already begun or planning to begin holiday shopping before October 31. Another 40 percent will begin shopping in November, 17 percent will hit the stores the first two weeks in December and 4.1 percent will procrastinate until the final two weeks of December.

According to the survey, 62.2 percent of Americans say the U.S. economy will affect their holiday spending plans. To compensate, consumers are expected to comparison shop to save a few dollars. The survey found 5.7 percent said they would comparative shop using their mobile device more often, up from 3.7 percent in 2010, and nearly one-third will comparative shop online more often, up from 30.9 percent last year.

With more mobile applications for smartphones and tablets available now, consumers have jumped at the efficiency and convenience of these new shopping channels. For the first time this year, NRF and BIGresearch polled consumers about their intentions to use smartphones and tablets to research and purchase holiday items.

According to the survey, half (52.6 percent) of those who own a smartphone said they will use their device to research products, redeem coupons, use apps to assist in their purchase, and purchase holiday gifts and items. Specifically, nearly one-third say they will research products or compare prices, 14.1 percent will purchase products, 17.3 percent will redeem coupons and 15.6 percent will use apps to research or purchase items. One quarter of smartphone owners will use their phone to look up a retailer’s information such as store hours and location.

Tablet owners are even more likely to use their device to aid in their holiday shopping: seven in 10 tablet owners will research and shop using their device. According to the survey, half of those with tablets will research products or compare prices, and more than one third will actually make a purchase with their device. Tablet owners will also redeem coupons (21.5 percent), look up retailer information (33.8) and use apps to research items or purchase products (21).

When it comes to mobile shopping, young adults present the biggest opportunity for retailers. According to the survey, Americans age 18 to 24 are the most likely to use their smartphones (72.2 percent) and tablets (86.4) to shop for holiday items this year.

Men are also considerably more likely than women to use their smartphone and tablet device to shop for gifts. Two in 10 men and just 10.8 percent of women who own smartphones plan to purchase products, and four in 10 men with tablets and 31.3 percent of women with tablets will make purchases this holiday season.

The NRF 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey polled 8,585 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch Oct. 4 to 11, 2011.

NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.