Four in 10 Americans ‘Joyful’ about Holidays

November 17, 2009

The 2009 holiday shopping season may turn out better than expected, according to results from the November American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

Data from the latest monthly survey indicate that consumer attitudes and spending plans for the next 30 days could provide some relief to retailers seeking an end-of-year bounce in sales, writes Retailer Daily.

More than? four in 10 (41%) of the general population report having a? “joyful” attitude going into the holiday season, and another 42% are “neither joyful nor gloomy.” Only 13% said they are “gloomy.”

However, among higher-spending segments of the population, 69% of young professionals and 53% of affluent respondents report being “joyful.”

The most recent Consumer Reports Index also indicates a lightening of the overall consumer mood. The Index’s Stress Index stood at 60.5 in November 2009. This score indicates that consumers are feeling stressed, but less so than they did in September, when the Stress Index reached an all-time high of 65.7, or October, when it dropped to 62.3.

Plans to Spend More

The Amex research also found that 10% of respondents plan to spend more on holiday gifts this year than last, and 43% plan to spend about the same. In the next 30 days, 22% of overall respondents plan to spend more than they did in the last 30 days.

The Spending and Saving Tracker is more optimistic in its outlook for the 2009 holiday shopping season than several recent major research studies. Nielsen, Deloitte and Retail Forward have all predicted essentially flat holiday sales, while the National Retail Federation (NRF) has predicted a 1% sales decline. However, the Spending and Saving Tracker is based on more current data, suggesting consumers’ holiday spending outlook has improved in the past month.

Internet Popular Resource
The Amex Tracker shows that the internet will be a popular resource for holiday shoppers this year. Some 79% of respondents plan to use the internet as a tool for holiday shopping, 45% plan to purchase items online, 28% will use the internet to buy hard-to-find items, 27% will use the internet for product research, and 25% will go online for gift ideas.

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The 2009 Holiday Forecast from comparison shopping site PriceGrabber.com corroborates these findings. PriceGrabber’s research indicates 70% of consumers plan to save money by performing research and comparison shopping online this year, compared to 38% last year. And according to the Deloitte 24th Annual Holiday Survey, 19% of consumers plan to access the internet via their mobile phones while shopping to find store locations, obtain coupons and sales information, as well as research products and prices. This percentage rose to 39% in the 18 to 29 age group.

Savings Big Motivator
Despite the consumer optimism displayed by the Spending & Saving Tracker, shoppers are still looking for ways to save money in a tough economy. The survey showed that that:

  • 70% of overall respondents say discounts would be the top motivator to get them to shop within the next 30 days.
  • On average, a 30% discount would motivate overall respondents to make a purchase. However, 47% of young professionals say they would be willing to begin spending with discounts as low as 10%.

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  • Almost half of overall respondents (45%) could be tempted to start their holiday shopping if they were offered free or faster shipping.
  • Other key motivators for overall respondents were a free gift with purchase (35%) and bonus reward points (22%).In addition, free gifts appeal to 52% of young professionals and bonus reward points had higher ratings among young professionals (45%) and affluents (33%).

About the research: The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of consumers ages 18+. The research sample of 2,011 adults surveyed the general US population, as well as two sub-groups–the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted for American Express by Echo Research October 29- November 2, 2009.

Affluent respondents are defined as having a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Young professional respondents are defined as less than 30 years of age, having a college degree, and a minimum annual household income of $50,000.

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