Yes, the holiday season is already upon us. The leaves are falling, the rain is abundant, and it is getting increasingly difficult to get out of bed in the morning. And it sure seems like the Christmas spirit has kicked in earlier than ever before. This year festivities began in Halloween’s shadow as pre-black Friday sales took flight beginning of November. Even TV networks are joining in on the fun as ABC Family promotes its countdown to the 25 days of Christmas beginning November 20. A countdown to a countdown. It’s downright ludicrous. Or should we say Ludachristmas?
However, with people still cowering in the recession’s shadow, companies are feeling desperate to get some attention before consumer’s shrunken budgets are depleted. According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), 61.7% of holiday shoppers report that the economy will affect their spending this holiday season.
With that in mind it comes as no surprise that several retailers/etailers, such as Walmart, Amazon, and Newegg have already begun events such as “Black November” to begin tapping into consumers’ wallets. Light funds are also leading to consumers seeking extra savings on Thanksgiving meals. Perhaps there will be no turducken on this year’s table and the country will have to suffer with less than the typical lethargic turkey and stuffing hangover.
There are some other trends that are becoming more prominent this holiday season. In an ever-increasing digital world, it is no surprise that consumers are shifting their purchases to the playground of the Internets. Not only is it convenient to shop from the comfort of one’s own home, but the Internet allows consumers to read reviews and instantly compare products across a category to find the best deals on the best products. A perhaps more surprising find, is that of shoppers surveyed by the NRF, one out of 4 that own a smart phone plan to use it to find their Holiday purchases (through reviews, finding stores, direct purchases, etc.).
‘Tis the season for discounters. Both on and offline discounters are getting a lot of attention these days. In particular, there is an increasing popularity surrounding deal-of-the-day coupon sites such as Groupon and Living Social. These sites pair up with local companies to offer specials on their products/services, often times 50% off or more. This saves the consumer a good chunk of money, brings in new and additional business to the local company, and provides the coupon site with a small piece of the financial pie. This is one of those rare occasions from which a win-win-win situation is spawned!
Apparently people are also getting tired of receiving the terrible Christmas sweaters and useless gadgets that are assured to come from some distant relative or unfortunately tasteless parent. Wish list sites are popping up, such as Svpply, that allow consumers to place items they like on their wish list, where their followers can then go to view and purchase them. So guess no more Mom! One drawback to this technique: it requires that said gift giver is capable of successfully using a computer, locating the site, AND making an online purchase. Maybe we won’t hold our breath. On the other end, gift-generating sites, such as Wantful, are appearing that will generate the perfect gift based on a set of responses detailing the recipient of said gift. I’m not sure how well they work, but it can at least provide the clueless with some ideas.
In one last fatal effort to get what they want, consumers are also doing a lot of self-gifting this season, as it appears people have held off on buying some desired items until the holiday sales set in. The NRF’s survey found that nearly 60% of those questioned planned on adding items for themselves to their list and have allocated on average $130 to purchase these items.
So is it hopeless? No, not hopeless. While consumers are keeping their money a little closer this season, there is still expected to be an overall increase in spending from years prior with about a 2.8% increase over last years sales predicted. So retailers relax, children sit pretty, and shoppers shop on