WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — The National Retail Federation is predicting that consumer holiday spending will be up a bit this year, to $805 per person, the highest amount in the 14 years that the NRF has been conducting its Holiday Consumer Spending Survey. The NRF also says online shopping will account for about half of holiday spending and that consumers are looking for shipping promotions (either free shipping or discounted) and are increasingly interested in programs that allow them to buy online for pickup in-store or ship-to-store options.
Of those who plan to shop online, 46.5 percent say they will take advantage of retailers' options to buy online and pick-up in store or ship to store.
Some 46 percent of holiday shopping will be done online, according to the survey, up from 44.4 percent last year. Additionally, 21.4 percent of smartphone owners will use their device to purchase holiday merchandise this year, the highest level seen since the NRF first asked in 2011.
The survey polled 7,276 consumers and was conducted for the NRF by Prosper Insights and Analytics from Oct. 5-13. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.
"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 NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. "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.
"We continue to see positive momentum in retail sales growth, giving us reason to believe consumers will show up this holiday season as they look to take advantage of all of retailers' promotional offerings," continued Shay. "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."
When asked which factors are the most important in their decision on where to shop during the holiday season, nearly three-quarters (73.1 percent) said sales or price discounts are a factor, and six in 10 (60.7 percent ) said quality of merchandise. Additionally, 58.6 percent said selection of merchandise and two in five (45.3 percent) said a convenient location helped them decide.
Additionally, 38 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say that helpful, knowledgeable customer service is an important factor when it comes to deciding where to shop, compared with 28.4 percent of other adults. And one in 10 (10.3 percent) 18- to 24-year-olds say layaway services are important in their destination decision.
Nearly six in 10 consumers (58.8 percent) celebrating the holidays say they would like to receive gift cards as a gift, making this the ninth year in a row that gift cards have topped the list of most-requested gift items. Close behind is clothing or clothing accessories (52.2 percent) and books, CDs, DVDs and video games (40.5 percent) — though the latter is the lowest percentage seen since the NRF started asking.
The complete survey is available on the NRF website.