What Small Businesses Can Expect from Holiday Shoppers

Holiday shoppers this year are more likely to be focused on value and spending on their children, according to a new survey by Forest City Enterprises, Inc., a national real estate company involved in ownership, development, management and acquisition of commercial and residential real estate and land throughout the United States.

Evidence suggesting this shift toward value shopping is that nearly a quarter of shoppers (23.0 percent) say they expect to spend more on "value brands" this year than last. That compares with 13.9 percent who expect to spend more on "mid-price" brands and 12.6 percent who expect to spend more on "luxury brands."

In contrast, about one third (32.3 percent) expect to spend less on luxury brands, while 11.6 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively, expect to rein in their spending on mid-price and value brands.

"Whether it's a sign of tight economic times or more wishful and persuasive children, close to one-third of shoppers also plan to spend more on children's categories this year," said Jane Lisy, SVP Marketing.  "What your children want takes priority over your personal wishes."

Shoppers say they expect to spend more on children's apparel (32.7 percent), accessories (28.7 percent) and toys (26.7 percent) – this year.  Meanwhile, they'll be trimming spending on fine jewelry (38.7 percent), mobile phones (38.3 percent) and holiday decor (33.5 percent).

"Perhaps most surprisingly," said Lisy, "the survey pointed out that almost two-thirds of shoppers might get caught short because they weren't aware that there are six fewer holiday shopping days this year!"

However, about half (49.4 percent) of shoppers say they won't be shopping in-store on Thanksgiving Day while just over a fourth (27.4 percent) say they plan to do so.  Nevertheless, the remaining "not sure" group leaves open the potential for in-store traffic on the holiday to be as much as 10 percent higher this year.

The survey also suggests that holiday shoppers prefer a shopping center over online shopping and that they have strongly integrated digital, social and mobile tools into their in-store shopping experience.

Spending expectations are in line with last year, when in-store shopping accounted for 70 percent of the shoppers' holiday spending.  The average in-store expenditure is expected to increase by 1 percent to about $774, while the average online expenditure is expected to decrease by 0.3 percent to $330.

And with the ubiquitous presence of digital, social and mobile tools, 91.3 percent of shoppers said they will use one of these tools from this year – up slightly from last year.  The biggest jump is among those who plan to use a mobile app for price research – 26.2 percent this year, compared with 19.3 percent last year.

Among other survey results:

The majority of shoppers say the traditional weekday shopping hours (10 a.m. – 9 p.m.) are the most convenient for them, and extended hours on Friday and Sunday nights have the most appeal. What gifts do holiday shoppers want for themselves? Coat/jacket, clothes, iPad, jewelry and shoes top the list. About four out of 10 shoppers purchased a mall gift card in 2012 and plan to do so again this year.

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