Surveys Find Most Holiday Shoppers Not Finished, Being More Frugal

Consumers have less than half of their holiday shopping complete, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Consumer Intentions and Actions survey conducted by BIGresearch.

The survey found that the average person has completed 46.5 percent of their shopping—less than the 49.5 percent the average shopper had completed by the same time last year.

“For consumers, the holiday season is more of a marathon than a sprint—typically starting the season strong, pacing themselves in the middle and gearing up again in the final stretch, a trend retailers expect every year,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “As the hours tick toward Christmas, retailers still have a few tricks up their sleeves to entice even the most extreme procrastinators looking to cross the final names off their lists.”

Nearly 37 million people had not even started their shopping as of late last week, while 7.6 percent say they have completely finished shopping already. The survey also found the average 25- to 34-year-old has finished about 50.2 percent of their shopping—the most of any age group.

Other highlights from the NRF survey:

  • 45.5 percent of those polled will do the remainder of their shopping online, the highest percent in the survey’s nine-year history.
  • More people will also flock to their favorite department store—44 percent vs. 38.4 percent last year—and electronics stores (23 percent vs. 19.4 percent in 2010). 
  • Discount stores, grocery stores, specialty stores, and outlets will also see their share of increased holiday traffic in the coming days.
  • 31.4 percent of tablet owners will use their device to purchase products and 30.5 percent will use it to look up retailer information such as store hours, locations, and directions.
  • 31.2 percent will compare prices/research items with their smartphones.
  • 40.4 percent say they have primarily paid for their gifts with a debit or check card, while 24.8 percent have used cash; 31.7 percent used a credit card.

More Americans are planning to spend less on gifts this holiday season, according to a recent online poll done by Angus Reid Public Opinion.

The survey found that 39 percent of Americans said they were worse off than they were last year, and that 40 percent planned on being more frugal with gifts this year.

“We’ve found that our customers aren’t necessarily spending less—in fact, we’ve seen an uptick,” says Jeff Josephson, owner and president of Raymond Lee Jewelers in Boca Raton, Fla. “But customers have been savvier. They want to be sure they’re getting the best value on their purchase.”

The poll also found that 62 percent of the American respondents said they would prefer getting a gift card rather than an actual item. Only 25 percent of American respondents felt that giving a gift card was “an impersonal and lazy way” to give a present. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in North America said they received at least one gift card during the holidays or on their last birthday, and a third of respondents in Canada, Britain, and the United States said they still possessed a card they had yet to redeem.

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