While holiday spending is likely to increase again this year in the United States – with 44 percent of U.S. consumers planning to spend more than they did last year – frugality will be the theme this holiday season, as shoppers want more for their money and are willing to put in the extra work to get the best deals, according to Accenture's annual holiday shopping survey.
Now in its 10th year, the Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey found that 42 percent of consumers this year said they rarely or never expect to pay full price for an item during the holiday season. In addition, two-thirds (67 percent) said they will purchase items from different stores or websites to get the lowest price, and nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they would be enticed by promotions or coupons to shop at a store they have not used in the last year.
Consumers are also willing to give more to receive more, as 54 percent of survey respondents said they are open to sharing personal information and shopping preferences with retailers in order to receive personalized offers, compared to 51 percent last year and 33 percent in 2014. The factors most likely to entice shoppers to share personal data are discounts or coupons (cited by 78 percent of respondents, up from 72 percent last year), loyalty card points (cited by 52 percent) and highly relevant promotions (cited by 47 percent).
"The good news is that U.S. consumers plan to spend more and are increasingly willing to share personal information to receive offers – but they remain focused on frugal bargain hunting," said Jill Standish, senior managing director of Retail at Accenture. "The clear opportunity for retailers is to learn all they can about their customers and use these insights to provide the personalized and timely deals consumers are seeking. By optimizing inventory and marketing, they can increase the profitability of each customer visit to their store or website and maximize each click."
Shoppers will do their homework
The survey findings indicate that U.S. shoppers will be doing a great deal of research before making their holiday purchases this year. More than four in five respondents (81 percent) said they plan to participate in ‘webrooming' – i.e., shopping for products online before visiting the retail store to make purchase – and the same majority said they plan to participate in ‘showrooming' – i.e., visiting a store to review a product before purchasing it online. In addition, the vast majority (84 percent) of shoppers this year said they check Amazon.com before looking or buying elsewhere.
The factors most likely to entice shoppers to buy from a store that they have not shopped at in the past year are promotions or coupons (cited by 72 percent of respondents), followed by the retailer having a specific item in stock they can't find elsewhere (58 percent) and the quality/range of goods (49 percent).
Half (50 percent) of shoppers expect to do the majority of their shopping online, with 43 percent saying they expect to do the majority of their shopping in-store (down from 48 percent last year). Purchasing online with in-store delivery/pickup was the top retailer benefit that shoppers plan to take advantage of this year, cited by 48 percent of respondents, up from 36 percent in 2015.
According to the survey, the main frustrations deterring consumers from buying more goods online are shipping costs (cited by 62 percent of respondents), not being able to touch the product (55 percent of respondents) and shipping delays (40 percent). The main frustration deterring consumers from shopping in-store is long lines or crowds, cited by 62 percent of respondents.
The survey also found that omnichannel offerings could lead to more sales, as nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of shoppers who plan to use the buy online / pick-up in-store option said they are likely to purchase additional items that were not part of their original purchase during their in-store visit.
"Consumers are in the habit of doing research before they shop or make a purchase and this trend only intensifies during the holiday season," Standish said. "Retailers must provide consumers with a hassle-free shopping experience, whether they are shopping online or in-store."
The holiday shopping list
The most popular item for the holiday shopping season is, for the second consecutive year, apparel – cited by 78 percent of respondents (versus 69 percent in 2015). The ever-popular gift card came in second, cited by 74 percent of respondents (versus 64 percent last year), with restaurants being the most popular gift-card choice (cited by 57 percent of respondents).
U.S. shoppers gear up for Thanksgiving and Black Friday
"We live in a world where consumer behavior and expectations are changing daily, requiring retailers to be truly insight driven," Standish said. "The reality of the always-connected consumer is evidenced by the fact that Thanksgiving, traditionally considered family time, is now increasingly regarded as another opportunity to bargain-hunt. With the majority of shoppers planning to do Thanksgiving Day shopping online, retailers may want to review online and offline strategies to engage consumers and drive sales."
Approximately two-thirds (65 percent) of survey respondents plan to shop on Black Friday and 36 percent of shoppers believe the best deals will be available on that day. A slightly smaller percentage (47 percent) of shoppers are likely to shop on Thanksgiving Day/night but 72 percent plan to do so online (versus 60 percent in 2015).
Only 25 percent of shoppers believe that Thanksgiving should be spent with family versus holiday shopping. This percentage was even lower for 18-24 year olds (just 17 percent).
The number of people who said they plan to shop on Cyber Monday increased 11 percent this year, to 57 percent.