Survey: Consumers Still Have Gifts to Buy

The biggest holiday dawdlers this year are men, according to a National Retail Federation survey. The survey found that nearly one in five men (19.4 percent) had yet to begin their holiday shopping, more than women (13.7 percent), or young adults 18-24 (17.6 percent).
 
Approximately 25 million consumers (11.7 percent) have completely finished their holiday shopping, but more than 35 million shoppers (16.5 percent) admit they haven’t even started, according to the NRF’s 2007 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch. The average person has completed about half (52.6 percent) of his or her shopping, compared to 53.1 percent at this time last year.
 
“Though the holiday season will be a challenge for retailers and shoppers are paying attention to prices, people are still buying Christmas presents,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and chief executive officer. “The last-minute rush will be busier than ever this year, and retailers are preparing by expanding employee schedules, keeping shelves stocked, and extending store hours.”
 
According to the survey, department stores are expected to be the destination of choice the week before Christmas, as 42.4 percent of shoppers plan to visit those stores to finish up holiday shopping. Other destinations will include discount stores (38.9%), the internet (34.9%), and specialty stores (29.9%).
 
Clothing and accessories have been the most popular gifts this holiday season, with 44.4 percent of consumers (and 49.8 percent of women) purchasing at least one item this year. Books, CDs, and DVDs (41.9 percent) have also been popular choices, as are toys (35.4%).
 
While less than a third of consumers (30.2 percent) have already purchased a gift card, sales of the cards are expected to jump this week as procrastinators find themselves running out of time. An earlier holiday survey by BIGresearch for NRF found that gift cards were the most requested gift for the holidays this year.
 
“From aggressive promotions to special offers, retailers have big plans to bring people into stores this week,” said Phil Rist, BIGresearch vice president of Strategy. “In addition to traditional holiday presents, gift cards will be a very popular last-minute choice for shoppers since they are easy to purchase and are never out of stock.”
 
NRF is forecasting holiday sales to increase four percent over the prior year, bringing total sales to $474.5 billion. November sales, which were released last week, rose 5.1 percent year-over-year.