Holiday Shoppers Creatively Conservative, But More Confident

Holiday Shoppers Creatively Conservative, But More Confident
by Jack Loechner, Tuesday, September 8, 2009, 8:15 AM

According new research from Information Resources, Inc. consumers will take a more strategic approach to holiday shopping this year and are heading into stores with shopping lists and a budget in mind. They are not expected to give up their focus on conservative spending by creating tremendous credit card balances.

Consumer attitudes and concerns surrounding gas prices, cost of utilities, job stability, the rise in food prices, and the recession are all seeing a decline in how these factors will affect this year’s holiday shopping rituals. Consumers’ holiday shopping will be less affected by economic factors than last year, says the report. In comparison to last year, the key survey findings include:

•Concern about the price of food has dropped more than 20% this year (98% in 2008 versus 77% in 2009)
•Expressed concern for the effect of gasoline prices on holiday shopping has dropped by 10% compared to 2008
•Utilitiy concerns saw a similar decline, down just over 9% from 2008
•The overall effect of the recession on shopping decisions has decreased nearly 5%
•Job stability concern remains top of mind, with only a 1% decline
Thom Blischok. President, IRI Consulting & Innovation, notes that “… last year’s dismal holiday retail results are being left behind as consumers are slightly more optimistic about the economy and are much more savvy about how they attack their holiday gift and meal list.”

The values American consumers continue to hold dear during the recession, religion, family time, and communal holiday meals, remain important to the shopper. Specifically the study found that:

•More than 81% of consumers say religion is a major factor in their holiday celebrations
•More than 98% of shoppers will make spending time with family a priority in the holiday season
•93% of consumers’ holiday plans include getting together with family and friends over the dinner table and at parties
•More than 90% of shoppers are making gift-giving a priority, up nearly three percentage points from last year
Nearly two thirds of consumers plan to eat their holiday meals at home, half plan to dine at their friends’ homes and holiday parties, and almost all plan to consume alcoholic beverages during these holiday parties. Consumers plan to spend the same or less this year than in 2008 on holiday meals, according to the report. More than 94% plan on spending no more than $500 on food and 90% plan on spending no more than $200 on holiday beer, wine, and spirits purchases. Only 11% of consumers mention they will shop without a grocery list, and private label buying continues to be top of mind for shoppers.

Additional survey findings include:

•79% say budgeting, and 60% say matched quality to name brands remain leading reasons for the switch to private label.
•92% of consumers will do grocery store holiday shopping based on sales, discounts, product selection, and in-stock items.
•23% of shoppers have a gift-giving budget over $799, down 13% from 2008
•11% more plan on budgeting up to $499 this year for gifts than in 2008
•71% of consumers will not be giving food as gifts this year
•only 18% will be making their gift purchases without a shopping list.
•An 18% increase in online shopping from 2008 is expected, when only 41% of consumers shopped online
Blischok concludes that “… CPG companies and retailers need to take advantage of this… savvy shopper… by appealing to values and budgets… (but) these actions and strategies must be swift… especially as shoppers continue making purchase decisions in their homes.”

For more information, please visit Information Resources here.



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