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Joy to the Mall: Alliance Data Retail Services Survey Finds Holiday Shopping in Full Swing, Consumer Spending on the Rise


COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In an interesting reversal of fortune, a new survey by Alliance Data Retail Services – a leading provider of marketing-driven credit card programs – indicates Christmas may have been stolen back from the Grinch this year. The Alliance Data Holiday Habits Retail Survey*, which measured the attitudes and opinions of 1,739 store-branded credit card holders about holiday shopping, found that many Americans began thinking about holiday shopping as early as July, and 50 percent said they plan to spend more than last year.

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"This is good news for retailers and the economy as a whole," said Melody Gintert, senior manager, market intelligence for Alliance Data Retail Services. "Even though consumers continue to be more financially aware and more discriminating when balancing value against cost, our survey data show most intend to spend at least the same as, or more than, last year."

Warm Weather is a Hot Time for Holiday Shopping
For some shoppers, every day is like a holiday. One-third said they think about holiday shopping all year long, while nearly as many (28 percent) said they start thinking about holiday shopping in July, when the year is half over. Another 17 percent said back-to-school signals back-to-shopping for holiday purchases, while only 10 percent don't feel the push until holiday decorations start going up in shopping malls and stores. Still, some stragglers (9 percent) start focusing on gift-giving around Thanksgiving, and a few (3 percent) brave shoppers don't give it a second thought until just a week or two before Christmas. 

A Jolly Holiday is in Store
Half of those surveyed said they plan to spend more this year on holiday purchases than last year, and 42 percent said they plan to spend the same. Only 8 percent said they will spend less. Consumers are just as likely to pull out a credit card (63 percent) to pay for their purchases as they are to pay with cash (62 percent). To take advantage of points, rewards, special discounts, and early shopping offers, 25 percent said they'll pull out their store-branded card when they hit the register.

Gintert noted, "Consumers are beginning to feel more confident about the security of their income and therefore, their ability to repay any purchases made by credit, and the great news for retailers is that only a small percentage of consumers intends to cut back on spending."

Food and Football Followed by Fun:  Black Friday
More than half of those surveyed – 55 percent – said they shop on Black Friday, the unofficial start of the holiday shopping period, though their reasons vary. While the leading reason cited was to take advantage of great deals and early-bird specials (62 percent), consumers also said the day puts them in the holiday spirit (55 percent). Other reasons:  It is a day off from work that helps them get a lot of shopping completed (53 percent), and it's fun to get out of the house after too much food and football on Thanksgiving Day (50 percent).

Holiday Mice
It's clear from the survey that shoppers still like to click the mouse even if they've hit the malls.  Though the majority of those surveyed (59 percent) would choose to shop on Black Friday rather than Cyber Monday (41 percent) when asked to choose, 24 percent said they'll spend half their time or more shopping online, and 15 percent will do the same via their mobile device (smart phone or tablet).

Over the Food Court and Through the Mall
When asked to describe their holiday shopping style, survey respondents most often said they are fast and furious. The results:

  • 51 percent said, I race through the mall/stores and do as much as they can in one shopping trip
  • 35 percent said, I take shopping slowly but I always finish with everything I need                     
  • 13 percent said, I buy throughout the year and hide gifts until the holiday

If the Shoe Doesn't Fit
According to the survey, 84 percent said they always or sometimes buy a replacement item if they return a gift, and more than half (56 percent) spend more than the original gift was worth. Thirty-nine percent will spend the same as the original gift was worth, and only 5 percent will spend less.

"It's still about the deal when it comes to holiday shopping for consumers," said Gintert. "That doesn't necessarily mean the deal has to be a discount, but something else that lends a sense of value. The emotional draw of the holiday itself can also be a very big driver, so retailers need to be prepared to address that sentiment in stores and online."

*Full survey report available upon request. For a high-resolution infographic and additional information, read the related multimedia news release here.

Survey Methodology
In August 2012, 1,739 online surveys were completed through the Alliance Data Retail Services eCommunity research panel of current private label (store-branded) credit card holders.  Respondents were 19 years of age or older; 52 percent were female, 42 percent male. These results are statistically significant at the 95% confidence level, given that a total of 1,739 surveys were completed by respondents.

About Alliance Data
Alliance Data® and its combined businesses is North America's largest and most comprehensive provider of transaction-based, data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions serving large, consumer-based industries. The Company creates and deploys customized solutions, enhancing the critical customer marketing experience; the result is measurably changing consumer behavior while driving business growth and profitability for some of today's most recognizable brands. Alliance Data helps its clients create and increase customer loyalty through solutions that engage millions of customers each day across multiple touch points using traditional, digital, mobile and other emerging technologies. Headquartered in Dallas, Alliance Data employs nearly 9,000 associates at more than 50 locations worldwide.

Alliance Data consists of three businesses: Alliance Data Retail Services, a leading provider of marketing-driven credit solutions; Epsilon®, a leading provider of multi-channel, data-driven technologies and marketing services; and LoyaltyOne®, which owns and operates the AIR MILES® Reward Program, Canada's premier coalition loyalty program. For more information about the company, visit our web site,, or you can follow us on Twitter at

SOURCE Alliance Data Retail Services