Most holiday shoppers undeterred by breaches

Consumers split on holiday spending: Survey
Consumers split on holiday spending: Survey   

After the data breach heard 'round the world hit Target last year, will shoppers behave any differently this Christmas?

According to a new study by Deloitte, although 42 percent of consumers said they are concerned about their personal data when making in-store purchases, 56 percent will still shop this holiday at retailers that have experienced a data breach.

The research follows similar findings in a report from CreditCards.com released earlier this month, which found that 52 percent of major credit and debit card holders either "probably" or "definitely" would shop at a store where shoppers' personal information had been exposed.

That's good news for such retailers as Target, Home Depot, Kmart and Michaels, which have fallen victim to data breaches over the past year.

"The consumer's now somewhat desensitized [to breaches]," said Rod Sides, principal at Deloitte Consulting.

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This is particularly true among higher-income households, according to the CreditCards.com report. It found that only 31 percent of households earning $75,000 or more annually said they were likely to avoid affected stores, compared with 56 percent of those with an annual income of less than $30,000.

A customer signs her name on a credit card machine while checking out at a BJ's Wholesale Club store in Falls Church, Va.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer signs her name on a credit card machine while checking out at a BJ's Wholesale Club store in Falls Church, Va.

Breaches are also more likely to weigh on older shoppers, a study by The National Retail Federation found.

"The younger you are, the more likely you were to grow up with technology, so it's part of your world," said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted NRF's holiday spending survey.

The biggest shift, Sides predicted, is likely to come from consumers' method of payment. Backing up that theory, the NRF study found that about one-fifth of shoppers are "somewhat" or "very likely" to let the breaches affect how they shop or pay for merchandise.

More gifts under the tree

With consumers starting to feel more optimistic about the economy, Deloitte's survey, which polled more than 5,000 consumers, found that total spending is projected to rise 13 percent, to $1,299, per household.

Gifts, in particular, are expected to get a big boost, with Deloitte predicting spending in this category will rise 9 percent to $458. It's also anticipating the biggest year-over-year increase in the total number of gifts that people purchase since 2006-2007. The firm expects the average person will buy about 13 gifts, which despite the gain is still significantly lower than 2007's average of about 23.

Deloitte also predicts non-gift purchases will increase 6 percent to $144. This includes the practice of self-gifting, when shoppers pick up an item or two for themselves when they are out looking for presents. The results contrast NRF's findings, which said that spending on self-gifting is expected to decline from an average $134.77 in 2013, to $126.68.

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"I think folks are starting to splurge a little bit more," Sides said.

Webrooming vs. Showrooming

And increasingly, they're doing so online. While 55 percent of respondents said they will shop at malls this year, more than one-quarter said they will shop there less this year. Along those lines, the Internet once again came in as the top place where consumers expect to shop.

That doesn't mean you should count out the store. As consumers have come to expect retailers to meet their needs wherever and whenever they want, webrooming—the practice of browsing online and then buying in store—is expected to outpace showrooming—the idea of looking first in store and then buying online.

While 68 percent of shoppers plan to webroom, only about half expect to showroom, according to Deloitte. Although this will likely cause a larger dent in foot traffic, and limit the chance of impulse purchases, it should lead to higher conversion rates—in other words, when customers are in the store, they will likely buy something.

Holiday shopping wars has a new wrinkle
Holiday shopping wars has a new wrinkle   

"With pre-shopping available through technology 24 hours a day, retailers can expect a 'ready to buy' shopper entering their store this holiday season," a recent report from ShopperTrak said.

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For those who aren't ready to buy, they'll have no problem whipping out their smartphone to help them decide. According to CFI Group, 57 percent of consumers use their smartphones while they're shopping in stores. But somewhat surprisingly, they also rely on good old fashioned communication. According to Deloitte, 48 percent of respondents said that knowledgeable store associates make them more likely to purchase from a particular retailer.

"It was a little bit of a surprise," Sides said, but he added that it's part of the edge that physical stores have over the Web.

"It's service, it's experience and it's something unique," he said.