Holiday shoppers will spend more on average this year while discounts remain the No. 1 factor influencing purchases, according to a National Retail Federation survey out today.
The average person is expected to spend about $804, up nearly 5% from $767 last year, NRF's survey of about 7,500 consumers finds. Consumers are spending more across the board on family, friends, co-workers, pets and even babysitters. More shoppers than ever will make purchases online – 56% – while nearly 62% say they will shop at discount stores.
Deals continue to be the driving motivation for holiday shoppers. Sales and discounts were listed as the most important factor influencing their decision to shop at a particular retailer during the holidays by 74.7% of shoppers. Quality of merchandise was listed as most important by 60.9% of shoppers.
Smartphones continue to gain traction as a valuable shopping tool. Nearly 56% of smartphone owners say they will use it in some way to help with holiday shopping; and a quarter said that a website or mobile site that is easy to use is the most important factor in deciding where to shop.
Despite deals starting earlier, more people will wait until November to shop this year – 40.9% vs. 38.8% last year. But nearly the same amount, 40.4%, will start before Halloween, NRF says. Most said they shop early to spread out their spending and avoid crowds, though nearly 45% said it's to take advantage of early deals.
Despite a decline in retail sales from August to September, fewer shoppers said the economy would affect their spending plans this year. Four in 10 said the state of the economy would impact how much they buy, nearly 20% fewer than in 2013. Retail sales declined 0.3% in September as consumers backed off on autos, clothing and home purchases, according to the Commerce Department report out Wednesday.
Experts expect holiday sales to increase 4.1% to $616.9 billion, the biggest increase in three years.
As for numerous data breaches suffered by retailers and other companies in the past year, customers are indifferent. The most, 41.6%, responded with "neutral" when asked how recent retail data breaches would affect how they shop and pay for purchases during the holiday season. Nearly 22% said it wasn't likely that breaches would affect their plans; just 6.9% said it was very likely.
Retailers including Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and Kmart have all suffered data breaches in the past year. Target, which perhaps suffered the biggest blow to its name because of the timing and size of its breach last holiday season, has said customers have largely moved on from the incident and come back to stores.
Zachary T. Brown