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The holiday shopping season is upon us(again)

November 30, 2009

by Mark Ollig

Today is the Monday after Thanksgiving, so I ask, “how many of you already have your holiday shopping finished?”

I, of course, procrastinate and wait until the last minute, like I do most holiday shopping seasons.

What goes well with consumer holiday shopping? How about an interesting consumer holiday shopping survey!

A recent holiday shopping season study was completed by a marketing group called Accenture Study.

This online study was completed in September, using a representative sampling of some 526 US consumers who responded to the survey questions.

Remember those huge discounts we found during the 2008 holiday season? The study says will not see as much of them this year.

The study reported 52 percent of us will have already completed a portion of our holiday shopping last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which is known as “Black Friday.”

The reason it is called “Black Friday” is because it is the beginning of the period where retailers go from being in the red (posting losses) to being “in the black” (posting a profit).

This term came about in the mid 1960s, when it started being used out on the East Coast.

The study claimed 69 percent of us will complete most of our holiday shopping by Dec. 7, which is on a Monday this year.

There are only two words I have to say about this, “not me.”

I mean, who are they kidding?

You will normally find this humble columnist in the stores the last few days (if not the day) before Christmas with shopping list in hand, aimlessly wandering the isles, pushing my cart – you will know it’s me because I usually end up with the shopping cart having that one irritating squeaky wheel on it.

The study confirmed this year’s retailers are seeing what they call a “shift-to-thrift” mode of shopping by consumers across all income levels during this current economic “downturn.”

Shopping online or over the Internet will continue to present brick-and-mortor stores increased competition for our holiday shopping dollars, as well.

The study reported nearly two-thirds of consumers (64 percent) plan to shop online for gifts during this holiday season.

Free shipping seems to be the major attraction for 35 percent of online shoppers, followed closely by larger discounts than traditional stores normally offer, according to 27 percent of the respondents taking part in the study.

The study also revealed that holiday spending reductions were most likely to be made on gifts for friends (52 percent), extended family (51 percent) ,and spouses/partners (49 percent). Children (35 percent) and co-workers (35 percent) will be the groups least likely to receive less this year.

Those handy gift cards are gaining popularity, as nearly four out of five respondents (79 percent) say they will be buying gift cards this holiday season.

Here are the survey’s primary results:

• Over a third of shoppers (36 percent) say they would search for and buy mostly all discounted items.

• Forty-four percent of respondents stated they would decide what to buy first, and then search for a store that offers a discount.

• Thirty-eight percent of consumers shopping late in the season do so because they expect better discounts to appear.

• Seventy percent will spend the same or more on holiday shopping this year compared to what they spent last year (vs. 60 percent in 2008).

• Two-thirds (66 percent) will use only, or mostly cash for their holiday purchases this year.

• Thirty-one percent of consumers using credit cards for holiday purchases expect to delay payment beyond the first month.

• Negative factors impacting holiday shopping spending this year include worries about the economy (62 percent) and a job loss or fear of job loss (41 percent).

• The gifts that top holiday shopping lists are gift cards (59 percent), clothing (56 percent), and toys (44 percent).

• Lower on the shopping list were video game consoles (30 percent), food and liquor (22 percent) and MP3 players (15 percent).

• Three-quarters of consumers (76 percent) will spend the same for a gift card as they would spend on a gift.

• Seventy-one percent of gift card recipients plan to spend their gift card within three months or less.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday shopping season, and please remember to spend some of your holiday shopping dollars supporting our local area businesses.