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Holiday Spending Survey: Consumers to Spend Slightly Less, But More Plan to Shop for Themselves

by | Nov 28, 2016 5:30am
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Posted to: Business, The Economy, Retail Sector

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Now that the political campaign ads have stopped, get ready for the next barrage: holiday shopping ads.

So much space and time — on television, in print, and elsewhere — was bought by campaigns leading up to Election Day that retailers had little opportunity to advertise, according to the National Retail Federation. But now that’s changed.

“Once the election has passed, we anticipate consumers will pull themselves out of the election doldrums and into the holiday spirit,” National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Consumers plan to spend an average of $935.58 throughout this year’s holiday shopping season, namely November and December, according to NRF’s annual spending projections. That is second only to last year’s record spending of $952.58 per person and represents a dip of about 1.8 percent.

The consumer survey, conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics, found 58 percent of consumers plan to shop for themselves this holiday season, spending an average of $139.61, up 4 percent from last year. That would be the highest level of personal spending in the survey’s 13-year history, according to the retail trade group.

“Many shoppers are taking the approach of ‘one for you, two for me’ this holiday season,” Shay said. “Retailers are preparing by offering a wide array of merchandise and promotions, items shoppers want to give as great gifts at prices so good they want to buy for themselves too.”

The survey polled 7,733 consumers between Oct. 4-11 about their holiday shopping plans. It found 41 percent planned to start shopping in October, 41 percent planned to start in November, and 18 percent expected to wait until December.

In a separate poll NRF conducted late last month, more than 25 percent of consumers said the election would affect their spending plans, and 43 percent expected to be more cautious with their spending due to the “uncertainty of the election season.”

Still, that poll found most — 87 percent — of shoppers would spend an extra $25 on holiday shopping if lured by a good sale, finding the perfect gift or getting free shipping.

“Retailers should prepare for a rush of consumers in the weeks following the presidential election as they get more economic and political certainty and are looking to take advantage of promotions and deals that are too good to pass up for their friends, family, and even themselves,” Shay said.

Even though spending per consumer is expected to dip a bit from last year’s record level, NRF expects overall retail sales nationwide in November and December to top $655 billion, up 3.6 percent from last year. That growth outpaces the 10-year average growth rate of 2.5 percent; it’s also greater than the seven-year average growth of 3.4 percent since economic recovery began in 2009.

Shoppers plan to look around for deals, the NRF consumer survey found. The group found that 57 percent of consumers plan to shop at department stores, 57 percent plan to shop online, and 56 percent plan to shop at discount stores — many people plan to shop at multiple types of retailers.

Forty-five percent plan to shop at a supermarket, 34 percent at clothing stores, 27 percent at electronics stores, and 23 percent at local or small businesses. For the first time, the survey this year asked consumers whether they planned to shop at outlet stores; 10 percent did.

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