Like the Boy Scouts, we believe in being prepared. Especially now that the U.S. is once again funding its government and paying its debts, and people are free, relatively, to go about their business. Part of that preparation may include anticipating how much business you can now expect from customers this holiday season.
The uncertainty in Washington created a slight pullback in economic activity, and one might expect a mild “pent up” effect now that the Congress has finally sent budget and debt ceiling legislation to the President. But customers, according to new findings released by the National Retail Federation, were eyeing the holidays a bit cautiously already.
“Faced with continued economic uncertainty and used to doing more with less, consumers will take a conservative approach to spending this holiday season,” their survey shows. “The average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more, two percent less than the $752.24 they actually spent last year.”
Yet in the aggregate, “NRF is forecasting holiday sales will increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion.”
So individually budgets are a wee bit smaller, mostly because people are spending less on themselves, and shopping more judiciously. But there also seems to be anticipation of further budget gridlock. According to the NRF’s President, “We expect consumers to set a modest budget for gifts and other holiday related purchases as they wait and see what will become of the U.S. economy in the coming months.”
The survey also found that many customers are starting their holiday shopping… right now, in order to take advantage of sales, and spread out their shopping budgets. In addition, customers plan to do upwards of 40% of their shopping online
Additionally, “more than half (56.3%) of holiday shoppers say they own a smartphone, and more than one-third (34.0%) own a tablet – both significantly higher than this time last year. Of those who own a smartphone, 53.8 percent will use their device to look up store hours, compare prices and purchase products; six in 10 (63.2%) tablet owners will use their device to shop, compare prices and look up product information.”
And finally, “When it comes to holiday wish lists, gift cards take the prize once again as the most requested gift item for the seventh year in a row.”
The various morals of this story? Make sure your sales strategy takes into account that holiday shoppers want to start buying, and saving, right now. Note that more of them are “showrooming” with their mobile devices, so anything you can do to keep them in your store, or on your website — coupons, ease of purchase, etc. — is all to the good. And make sure you’re offering gift cards for your products and services!
If you need help with any aspect of gift card offering, online sales, eCommerce, or more, as you move into holiday time, call your AVPS Rep today. And let us be the first to wish you a very merry… post-shutdown!