ARG’s Beemer lowers his holiday sales estimate to a 4.2% gain

Lack of big savings offers of 50% off have reduced consumer spending in two very critical areas, says C. Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group (ARG).

The two areas are consumers buying something nice for themselves and one-third of America acknowledging spending less this shopping season, says Beemer, market research professional. “With many consumers taking vacations starting next weekend, two out of five Americans have completed their shopping by Sunday night,” he said.

In lieu of his recent findings, Beemer lowered his sales projection for the holidays to a 4.2% gain over the previous year. Beemer previously estimated that holiday sales would increase by 4.8%.

Other highlights from the ARG report include:

1. A year ago 15.5% had barely started their shopping while just 9% have barely started this year. This year 40.6% are virtually done while last year only 26% were this far along.
2. Of those just starting now, 49.8% expect to be finished by December 24 while only 32.3% were planning to finish that late last Christmas.
3. Shoppers are going to more stores this shopping season, with 32.6% going to 6-15 stores compared to only 20.5% going to that many stores.
4. Shoppers were buying this weekend at strong levels of 43.3%, but last year 53.6% shopped this weekend.
5. Target was the big gainer this weekend with 30.3% compared to 22.7% last year this same weekend. Wal-Mart was the overall winner with 53.4% of consumers shopping there, but last year 61% of consumers shopped at Wal-Mart on this weekend.
6. Toys remained at the number one position for shoppers again this weekend with 41.5% of consumers buying at toy stores compared to 38.3% last year. Video games remain strong with gains from last year comparing 22.8% to 20.1%. Electronics, which had a big weekend after Thanksgiving, was flat with 20.5% compared to 20.9% shoppers visiting there last year.
7. Lack of big savings offers has lessened the number of people buying something nice for themselves since last year 42.8% had by this time, but only 36.4% have so far this year.
8. Consumers feel they will spend more this year at a rate of 44.5% compared to 34.6% spending more last year at this time.
9. If consumers don’t see 50% off this shopping season, 34.8% will buy less expensive items or will buy fewer items this Christmas.
10. Already 32.8% have purchased gift cards this Christmas while nearly 10% more expect to buy them. Last year this number doubled in the last 10 days so it is likely 20% will buy gift cards breaking last year’s number of 48%.
11. Only 30.7% of gift cards are under $25 this year compared to nearly half last year.