According to the National Retail Federation (NRF, Washington, D.C.), U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 on holiday-related shopping, a 3.2 percent drop from last year’s $705.01. As part of its 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, two-thirds of Americans (65.3 percent) say the economy will affect their holiday plans this year, with 84 percent of surveyed consumers saying they’ll spending less.
The economy will also continue to affect consumers’ shopping habits, with 55 percent saying they’ll be shopping for sales more often, 41 percent using more coupons and 34 percent choosing to put up last year’s decorations rather than buy new ones. Additionally, more than one-fourth of Americans say the economy is forcing them to travel less or not at all for the holidays.
“While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans,” says NRF president and ceo Tracy Mullin. “This holiday season will be a bit of a dance between retailers and shoppers, with each group feeling the other out to understand how things have changed and how they must adapt.”
When deciding where to spend their holiday allowance, 70 percent of survey respondents say they’ll purchase from discounters this year, though more than half will also shop at department stores. Grocery stores (45 percent), the Internet (42.4 percent), clothing stores (33.8 percent) and electronics stores (31.8 percent) will also be popular destinations.
In response to anticipated soft sales, retailers are cutting back on inventory. “In anticipation of weak demand, many retailers scaled back on inventory levels to prevent unplanned markdowns at the end of the season,” says Mullin. “Once the most popular items are gone, retailers won’t have anywhere to get them, so if there was ever a holiday season to buy early, this is it.”
NRF continues to expect holiday sales to decline 1.0 percent to $437.6 billion.