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Ease of Shopping Mass Retailers Holds an Edge Over Online Stores

Average Gift Spending is Highest for Unmarried Couples

Nov 19, 2014 4:30 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... As Thanksgiving week fast approaches  -- beginning the most important time of the year for U.S. retail -- physical and online stores  have readied their channel strategies to attract the consumer wallet, but there are some last-minute adjustments that marketers should address, according to The Integer Group® and M/A/R/C Research. 

The data revealed that the top reason consumers choose a retailer is to complete the transaction easily and fast. This year, mass retailers (such as Target and Walmart) edged out online stores (28 percent versus 26 percent) as the top destination  for gift buying. Last year, online retailers were favored by 30 percent, whereas  mass retailers managed  second choice with 26 percent. Department stores, on the other hand, have consistently ranked in third place for the past three years, with about 20 percent favoring those destinations.    retail, walmart

While much attention is centered on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the weekend itself,  Integer and M/A/R/C found that 51 percent of consumers plan to conduct their gift shopping in December and 29 percent won't even begin planning before that time.

Know what is happening in the lives of your core customer, for aligning the shopping experience with their life stage brings a more inspiring and meaningful brand experience, Integer and M/A/R/C advised.  Consumers of all age groups and demographics view the Christmas season as hectic, so retailers who make holiday shopping easy and less stressful -- infusing that message into their campaigns and channel solutions -- will attract more shoppers.

In terms of spending patterns, the survey  revealed that those who celebrate the season expect to spend $605 on average, but there are important demographic nuances to the data.  Consumers who are not married but living together expect to spend the most, an average of $744, followed by married couples at $713. The survey found that those in the age group of 18 to 24 plan to spend an average of $353, those of 25 to 34 expect to spend $492, while 35 to 49-year-olds plan to spend $663 and 50 to 64-year-olds budget $669. Those over 65 plan to spend an average of $622.

In addition, holiday shoppers do not generally view the next few weeks as a linear or organized experience; while there may be a planned gift list, consumers are still searching  for inspiration and help from a retailer, according to the data. Lastly, the group said retailers can win shoppers by "thinking outside the box" and positioning the brand as clearly different, and better, than its competition.

Integer and M/A/R/C explained that consumers weigh a number of factors while deciding where to shop: ease (35 percent), value (33 percent), variety (22 percent) and experience (10 percent).

Other factors that play into a gift buying decision include free shipping (58 percent), coupons (44 percent), buy one and receive half price on a second (43 percent), online email offers (41 percent), Black Friday deals (40 percent), a loyalty program (38 percent), instore email offers (38 percent), instant rebates (35 percent), a last-minute deal (35 percent) and early bird door busters (31 percent). 

Although the "experience" with a retailer is not the top consideration,  37 percent of consumers still cited "an enjoyable shopping experience" to be an important element when engaging a retailer, according to the data. In addition, the unpredictable and chaotic nature of Thanksgiving weekend attracts younger, digitally savvy shoppers, with  33 percent of millennials (age 18 to 34) expecting to conduct most of their Christmas shopping during that time.





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Tags: channel marketing, christmas, demographics, gift, holiday, Jeff Miller, marketing, retail
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