NRF: Consumers Optimistic Heading Into Holidays

Despite continued concerns about the economy, consumers are expected to slightly increase their holiday spending, according to a recent report from the National Retail Federation.

The NRF’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, found that consumers plan to spend an average of $805.65 on food items, decorations, gifts and more over the holiday season, the highest amount in the survey’s 14-year history and in line with last year’s $802.45. Spending on gifts for family members will total $462.95, up from $458.75 last year, also a survey high.

“Despite the challenges that still exist in our economy, it looks as if consumers are eager to celebrate the holidays with friends and family this year,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “We expect consumers will tackle their holiday shopping lists with a healthy dose of optimism, tempered by a hint of caution as they look for ways to find the perfect, practical gift.”

Respondents in the NRF survey said they will shop at discount (55.9%) and department stores (55.6%), and online (52.9%). Two in five (44.1%) will shop at grocery stores and one-third (33.4%) will shop at clothing or accessory stores.

For those who plan to shop online during the holiday season, 46.5% said they will take advantage of retailers’ buy-online/pick-up-in-store or ship-to-store options. Free shipping seems to be the most anticipated promotion with 93.1% of online shoppers saying they will use a free shipping offer when shopping for holiday merchandise.

Millennial online shoppers are most likely to take advantage of the instant gratification option when it comes to shipping and fulfillment: According to the survey, 16.7% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 15.9% of 25- to 34-year-olds will use a same-day delivery option when buying gifts, décor and other holiday items, compared to just 7.8% of the rest of the population.

“In an effort to attract all shoppers, from the extremely price sensitive to the online millennial, retailers will be offering exclusive incentives, low prices, price-matching, top toys and everyone’s favorite— free shipping and buy online pick up in store offers,” Shay said.

Mobile devices are also expected to have an impact on holiday shopping this year. The survey found that 21.4% of smartphone owners will use their device to purchase holiday merchandise this year, the highest seen since NRF first asked in 2011. Additionally, more will use their smartphone to research products (37.9% vs. 35.8% in 2014) and to look for a way to connect with a retail store by looking up retailer information like store hours and directions (28.4% vs. 26.9% last year). One in five (20.3%) will specifically use their smartphone to look up product availability in a store.

Tablet owners plan to be just as mobile-active. Nearly half (47.5%) will use their device to research products and 34.5% will use their tablet to make a holiday purchase of some kind, similar to last year (33%); nearly one-quarter (23.5%) will check for in-store availability from their tablet.