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NPD: Consumers To Spend More This Holiday Season

According to The NPD Group, Inc., prospects for this holiday season are a bit better than for the last. While the market research firm’s 12th annual Holiday Spending Survey demonstrated that at least some consumers are more enthusiastic about spreading cash across the holiday season, they expect more for their money.

In 2013, the survey revealed, 12% of consumers plan to spend more in the holidays versus 10% a year ago, while 67% plan to spend the same amount, equal to last year. As for consumers who say they will spend less in the holidays, that’s down to 21% from 23% in 2012.

“Consumers are feeling better about the economy compared to last year, and they plan to take advantage of sales during key periods,” Marshal Cohen, NPD chief industry analyst, said in introducing the study. “But this year’s holiday will be a tricky one for retailers. With fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Government distractions, and lack of newness in the marketplace, retailers will have to rely more on promotions to excite the consumer.”

Comparison shopping and online research remain consumer pre-purchase priorities. Bargains and service are important to holiday shoppers, according to the NPD study, which indicated that 57% of shoppers are looking for special sale prices versus 56% in the 2012 holiday season while 56% want to see overall value for the price versus 54% in the year-ago period. Also important, free shipping is a purchase prompter to 42% of consumers in 2013 versus 39% last year and carrying unique products or brands is critical for 17% of consumers compared to 15% in 2012.

Consumer purchasing priorities remain similar this year when compared with last.

“With no new trendy items besides some updated versions of the same hot products from past years, consumers will not shop with fear due to lack of inventory,” Cohen said. “The must-have items will also be available at a wider variety of retailers, minimizing the panic shopping of years past.”

Among product categories consumers plan to shop, housewares come in eighth in the NPD study between footwear and sporting goods. The good news is that the housewares category is somewhat more attractive to consumers, as 9% of survey respondents said they plan to buy home goods versus 8% in 2012.

Discount stores, e-commerce retailers, national mid-tier chains and warehouse clubs should see slightly more shoppers this year, NPD related, while toy, electronic, outlet and off-price stores are likely to experience relatively flat traffic. Slightly fewer shoppers plan to stop by department and clothing stores, the survey suggested.

“Researching online for the best deals will play a bigger role this year with social media continuing to influence consumers’ holiday purchases,” Cohen noted. “The expansion of Black Friday weekend deals will also be a major player in the discount offerings. Look for promotions to start well ahead of Black Friday to create a much greater consumer opportunity for stores and online.”