Holiday shopping survey finds increase in consumer spending

As the stock market continues to see robust growth and consumer confidence continues to rise, anticipated 2017 holiday spending is projected to increase 5 percent. “Generally good economic news has consumers signaling a 4 percent increase in their holiday spend this year to an average of 936 dollars per household,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, Inc., the New York City-based brand loyalty and customer engagement research consultancy that conducts the annual survey.

There is a growing trend in consumers shopping earlier than in previous years too. “Retailers have recognized shifts in the consumer shopping paradigm, and will again try to capitalize on them by kicking off Black Friday-like sales even earlier than in previous years,” Passikoff said.

According to the 11,625 shoppers who participated in the 2017 Brand Keys survey, despite larger spends consumers have adopted new shopping patterns when it comes to the holidays, particularly the winter holidays. “This is an incredibly important shift,” said Passikoff. “It means that a ‘season’ that represents nearly 25 percent of the retail industry’s total sales, is spread out – conservatively speaking – over a four month-plus period even though the ‘Winter Holidays’ have traditionally been defined as the 61 days of November and December. It may work that way on the calendar, but not in successful retailers’ marketing strategies!”

Holiday apparel sales projected to grow 5 percent

In addition, the age old retail tradition of Black Friday appears to be a dying one. 41 percent of consumers now report shopping before Black Friday. This year, that number has increased with 51 percent of customers saying they shopped or plan on shopping before Black Friday. The shopping period become known as "Black November." “Super Saturday has overtaken Black Friday in actual sales,” said Passikoff. “So while Black Friday represents a retail raison d’être, it is fast becoming a relic of twentieth century retailing.”

Consumers have learned that deals are a year round extravaganza, not just a holiday thing. They have also learned that deals get better closer to Christmas.

“Deals notwithstanding, shopping on Black Friday and in December itself has become more of a traditional, seasonal thing families can do together,” noted Passikoff. “It’s a habituated behavior that grabs consumers when Jack Frost nips at their noses and Santa Claus is coming to town, despite the fact that 71 percent of their shipping has already been completed!”

98 percent of consumers interviewed will be buying online this year. “It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retailers have had more difficult times engaging customers over the past five years,” said Passikoff. “They’ve been trying to forestall the online assault with ‘better’ reward programs and low-lower-lowest pricing schemes, but consumers are on to that. Online has become the default venue for browsing, promotions, price checking and, ultimately, buying holiday gifts.”

Free shipping and returns, order online-pickup-in-store or ship-to-store options are all top priorities for consumers this year.

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