American Marketer


US election creates frugal mindset for holidays

November 8, 2016

Shoppers under 40 are most likely to up their spending this holiday season Shoppers under 40 are most likely to up their spending this holiday season


About two-thirds of U.S. shoppers say they plan to spend the same amount on gifts this holiday season as they did in 2015, according to a survey conducted by SAS.

With the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election on Nov. 8, men are more apt than women to shift their holiday budgets down from last year’s numbers. Younger consumers appear to be the most optimistic, with the under-40 crowd expecting to spend more this year.

“Given the contention surrounding the 2016 presidential election, it’s not surprising consumers feel a little anxious,” said Dan Mitchell, director of retail and CPG at SAS. “But once the election is over, it’ll be time for retailers to connect with consumers in the ways they prefer by using their data to its full extent.

“Our survey found they’re looking for value, service and inspiration,” he said. “And in the spirit of imagining the future of retailing, some would even appreciate a little automated shopping help from retail robot assistants.”

SAS Market Research and Survey Sampling International surveyed 4,000 adults in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom from Oct. 4-11.

Shopping season
More than three-quarters of consumers will buy via a mobile device or a computer, greater than the 70 percent who plan to shop in bricks-and-mortar retail. However, this overlap shows that most shoppers plan to make purchases both online and in-store.

Overall, 71 percent of consumers buy gifts during the typical November and December shopping period. Women are more apt to spread their holiday shopping out through the whole season, while men prefer to get their gift buying done in a couple of days.

Black Friday traffic may be down, as 35 percent plan to head to the stores the day after Thanksgiving, compared to 40 percent last year.

Only 15 percent of consumers expect to shop on Thanksgiving itself. Close to four in 10 consumers look at stores that open on the holiday negatively, compared to the 21 percent who view these openings as positive.

Some retailers, including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, have already announced plans to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Image courtesy of Nordstrom

The most popular present this year is gift cards, unchanged from 2015 (see story).

When it comes to deciding what to buy, most will ask the recipient directly for ideas. Close to two-thirds of consumers will wander the aisles of a store, while 35 percent will look to a retailer’s Web site for suggestions.

A prime opportunity for improvement, 78 percent say that retailers’ suggestions are at least somewhat inaccurate.

Another lesson is product availability, since stores have about a 50 percent chance of keeping a shopper’s business if a particular gift item is not in-stock. If looking in-store, half would buy the product either online or in a competitor’s store, while six in 10 online shoppers would buy from a competitor.

When it comes to communications, most well-liked among those surveyed were customized emails from retailers they appreciate, with 58 percent showing an inclination towards this messaging. Following were loyalty updates.

Luxury retailers need to support in-store experiences with full-bodied online strategies more so than ever now that shoppers are taking their time in the decision-making process for the upcoming holiday season.

Shoppers have a bevy of resources at their fingertips that can shift their gift purchasing decisions, and now 77 percent are taking long periods of time to determine the best presents. Even though online and mobile sales are growing exponentially, bricks-and-mortar will still be key as 87 percent of shoppers are likely to buy in stores (see story).