Holiday Consumer Spending Intentions Only Slightly Better Than Last Year

October 12, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

Financial Services | Retail & E-Commerce | Uncategorized

1 in 10 consumers intend to spend more this holiday season than last, according to The NPD Group’s 11th annual survey of consumers’ holiday spending intentions. That’s up only marginally from last year’s 9%, with a plurality (67%) planning to spend about the same (up from 64% in 2011). While the proportion who plan to spend less (23%) is down from last year’s 27%, that still means that more than twice as many consumers plan to spend less than more this year.

Many more survey results will be released in the upcoming weeks, obviously, and they may contain different outlooks. Still, as a longitudinal analysis – with the ability to compare results from the same researcher – the relatively flat change is interesting.

As an indication of how different these forecasts can/might be, the NRF recently projected that holiday retail sales will grow 4.1% year-over-year to reach $586.1 billion. That rate is down from actual growth in 2011 and 2010 (both at 5.6%), but is above the trailing 10-year average sales increase of 3.3%. Perhaps that 10% who will spend more will be significantly boosting their outlay.

NPD finds that 21% of consumers plan to begin their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, up 2% points over 2011, while 16% report they have already started, down a percentage point. The researchers suggest that the election serves as a distraction, but consumers’ intentions indicate that shopping will resume after the election.

Shopping Destinations Signal Value Preference

As to where consumers plan to shop for the 2012 holidays, all categories of stores were even with 2011 or within a percentage point range, save one: off-price retailers like Marshall’s or TJMaxx, up 2% points to 15%. Discount stores like Kmart and Walmart lead the pack, the destination for 50% of shoppers. In second place, at 38%, online shopping, which surprisingly stayed even with 2011.

Other shopping destinations include national chains (Sears, JC Penney, Kohl’s; 28%), department stores (Macy’s, Bloomingdales; 23%), toy stores (19%), warehouse clubs (e.g. Costco, BJ’s; 17%), outlet and electronics stores (17%), and specialty clothing stores (e.g. Victoria’s Secret and The Gap; 16%).

NPD observes that consumer sentiment leans toward practical purchases this year over luxury goods, and that their choice of stores indicates that they are still seeking value for their dollar.

About The Data: The NPD Holiday Survey of Consumer Purchase Intentions was fielded to members of NPD’s online consumer panel from September 4th to September 11th, 2012. The survey was fielded to a U.S. representative sample; the findings presented represent 3,618 completed surveys. NPD maintains an online panel of nearly 2 million consumers.

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