Consumers Indicate a Lackluster Holiday Season vs. 2011, Spending Less, Giving Fewer Gifts While Pre-Shopping More and Leveraging Online and Mobile Cost Savings
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Despite the hype surrounding the “Black Friday” shopping day after Thanksgiving, less than one fifth 19 percent definitely plan to hit the stores that day, according to the second annual PeriscopeIQ Retail Intelligence Survey.
Additionally, consumers nationwide report that they will spend less on holiday shopping this year in overall expenditures, in amount spent per gift, and with fewer gifts given, indicating weaker holiday sales
The bad news is that, even prior to Hurricane Sandy, nearly a quarter (24 percent) plan to spend less on holiday shopping this year. Nearly three-fifths (58 percent) say they will spend the same overall and only 14 percent say they will increase holiday spending from 2011 levels. Moreover, the “Grinches” (17 percent) plan to purchase fewer gifts than last year while more than a fifth (22 percent), are planning on reducing their expenditures per gift.
“Even before the disastrous hurricane, the PeriscopeIQ Retail Intelligence Survey results suggested a weak holiday season, resulting in a one-two punch for retailers who are already dealing with margin erosion due to showrooming, price matching and pre-shopping with mobile and online technologies,” explains Dr. Pawan Singh, CEO and Chief Scientist at PeriscopeIQ.
“With more than half of our respondents equipped with Smartphones, the multi-channel world is a boon to holiday shoppers, but it can also be an advantage to retailers who address physical, mobile and online customer experiences with equal diligence. However, retailers will have to start pricing more aggressively earlier to bring storm- impacted shoppers back to stores in the Mid-Atlantic region.”
PeriscopeIQ, a customer intelligence firm, conducts the representative survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers age 18 and older annually on behalf of its major retail clients. Among the noteworthy findings in this year’s poll:
While retailers and marketers are printing QR codes on ads, point-of-sale items and price tags, the PeriscopeIQ study revealed that nearly three-fifths (59 percent) of shoppers don’t know what they are or what they do. Further, less than a fifth, 18 percent, said they had ever used one in a retail environment, although 60 percent own Smartphones with built-in scanners or apps.
“QR codes haven’t lived up to their potential as a way to access coupons or provide suitable product information, in part due to lack of understanding or because the experience is unsatisfactory,” explains Mohamed Latib, COO of PeriscopeIQ. “We believe that QR codes will continue to evolve but the actual 2D code will be transformed by a newer, more efficient technology in the near future.”
As many as 40 percent of those polled are shopping online at work during the holidays and year-round. The PeriscopeIQ Survey found that over a quarter of those polled shop more than 15 minutes daily. Half of respondents ages 18-34 spend as much as 20 minutes daily shopping online.
It’s the Gas
In line with gift consciousness, 40 percent say that current gas pricing will impact how far they will drive for a bargain. Gasoline availability can also be expected to affect the holiday shopping of consumers impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Virtually all respondents (95 percent) stated that “free shipping” is an important factor in deciding from which websites to make their purchases. “While the number of online shoppers in the survey is about even from last year, bricks and mortar retailers will need to continue to maintain this feature in their arsenals,” Dr. Singh explained.
Black Friday More Blue
Despite the hoopla about shopping on “Black Friday,” only a little more than a third (38 percent) will “definitely” or “probably” shop, while 60 percent won’t bother battling crowds the day after Thanksgiving.
Smartphones and Smarter Shoppers
According to the survey, consumers are becoming savvy shoppers, with more than two-fifths (41 percent) pre-shopping online vs. only 27 percent doing so last year.
Using their Smartphones inside stores, some, but not a huge number, are leveraging their devices to the frustration of retailers. For example, 33 percent check prices at other stores or at websites. A similar number (36 percent) are using their phones to take pictures of merchandise, presumably for feedback from friends or family, or for comparison shopping.
Fewer than five percent of respondents claim to use mobile wallets like Google Wallet or Passbook.
“Like” it or Not
Another issue is consumer use of online reviews. Only 24 percent said they go online for reviews of products and services while shopping at a store. “This indicates that, while consumers rely somewhat on the Internet for information, if only a minority consult reviews while shopping, many buyers aren’t getting the full picture on positive and negative aspects of their purchases,” Dr. Singh explained.
Black, White and Read
Lastly, while much of the PeriscopeIQ survey focuses on electronic shopping and innovative retail technologies, an interesting finding is that when it comes to product information, sales and other shopping information, nearly three-fifths (58 percent) still rely on print magazines and newspapers. This is more than twice the number who look at online reviews while shopping.
The PeriscopeIQ 2012 Retail Intelligence Survey measured anticipated holiday shopping activity and also has detailed information on year-round online purchasing habits and the ways in which Americans use social media, Smartphones and other mobile devices when shopping.
The sample was randomly selected from a voluntary online consumer panel and was designed to be representative of the entire U.S. population of adults age 18 and older. With, according to Pew Internet Tracking, 85 percent of adults now online, the online audience differs very little from the total adult population. Survey responses from 49 states were adjusted slightly to match national demographic data on gender, age and income to further strengthen the validity of results.
The statistical margin of error for a conventionally fielded random digit dial telephone survey of the same size is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Pawan Singh, Ph.D., PeriscopeIQ CEO and Chief Scientist and James P. Murphy, Ph.D., director of research, jointly managed the survey.
PeriscopeIQ is a provider of advanced web-based solutions that transform customer experience and employee feedback into actionable insight through its powerful on-demand analytical engine and fully customizable Voice of the Customer (VOC) and Voice of the Employee (VOE) solutions. Applying science and strategy, PeriscopeIQ uncovers customer and employee insights via a flexible delivery model. The company also partners with leading enterprises and associations to combine predictive analytics and time-tested business insights to deliver proprietary solutions with unparalleled analytical reporting capabilities. The PeriscopeIQ platform and methodology have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies and global organizations, including: Boston Scientific, Halliburton, Kohl’s, Project Management Institute, Seagate Technology, Unilever, The Wharton School, The World Bank, and The World Health Organization. Founded in 1999, PeriscopeIQ is a privately held company headquartered in Coopersburg, Pa. For more information, visit www.periscopeIQ.com.