It goes without saying this last burst of spending will be critical. According to a PriceGrabber survey, 43 percent of last-minute shoppers think the best deals of the holiday season can be found during the final days.
That may explain why 25 percent of 1,011 adults surveyed by Consumer Reports hadn’t even begun shopping for the holidays as of Dec. 18. A good chunk of the procrastinators — some 54 percent — blamed lack of money. Only 38 percent of procrastinators gave that excuse last year.
NPD Group also has been tracking shopping activity throughout the holiday season. Last week was the best week for brick-and-mortar stores in terms of shoppers activity shopping and making purchases since NPD began tracking it for holiday season.
“Brick-and-mortar shopping is expected to have a strong finish and be even stronger post-holiday,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD, in a press release. “Consumers are seeking the deal all season, and the deals are just now starting to shape up for some more dramatic discounts without the crazy hours to get them. The only issue will be…they won’t be the ‘pick of the litter,’ as retailers are already showing signs of broken stock on selected styles.”
That has been a big trend, retailers kept tight controls on their inventories so as not to be left with merchandise, but it is sometimes hard to find products, and those out-of-stock items mean missed sales.
Cohen said footwear, which may not have been thought of as a traditional holiday gift, is becoming one, especially items such as shearling boots. Book sellers also are doing well as consumers buy e-readers and tablets as gifts, he said.
Once everyone opens those new tablets during the holidays they can join the new shopping revolution: mcommerce. In the last nine months, the share of U.S. online retail dollars attributable to mobile devices has doubled from 1.87 percent in April of 2011 to 3.74 percent in December 2011, according to RichRelevance, a company that assists retailers with ecommerce sites.
The firm also tracked an increase in the portion of page views coming from mobile devices, with more than 15 percent of all shopping seasons occurring on mobile devices. This past April, just under 9 percent of all shoppers were browsing digital aisles via a mobile device, RichRelevance said. By December, the share has more than doubled, reaching 18 percent of all consumers.
Tealeaf, a software company that helps improve online and mobile experience, has worked with Crimson Hexagon to analyze the conversations consumers have been having on social media about mobile shopping.
According to Geoff Galat, Tealeaf’s vice president of worldwide marketing, one of the biggest trends to emerge with mobile shopping this holiday season appears to be mobile multi-tasking, or consumers mobile shopping while shopping at a physical store, in class, or out running errands.
Tealeaf’s survey also showed large numbers of online conversations (about 41 percent of those over the past weekend) focused on frustrations consumers were having making their transactions. Although mobile retail sites and apps have come a long way in the past years, retailers will need to revisit this in the coming year.
However, in these final days of the shopping season, mobile and online will likely play less of a role because it will be harder, or more expensive, for retailers to ship gifts in time for the holiday.
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