GfK: Holiday shoppers to maintain, restrict spending; seek best prices

NEW YORK — Economic anxiety continues to plague U.S. consumers, with 84% planning to spend the same or less this holiday season, according to a new report released by GfK Custom Research North America on Thursday.

According to GfK's 2011 holiday shopping survey, which polled 1,007 Americans ages 18 years and older, 40% of American households will spend less this year, while 44% will spend the same amount they did in 2010. GfK added that 11% plan to spend more.

When it comes to what will drive spending, consumers are most concerned with finding the best price (96%), making it easy for them to find and purchase a desired item (90%), as well as the offer of free shipping from online retailers (90%).

"The competition between online and brick-and-mortar retailers will continue to intensify as the challenge for all retailers is compounded by shoppers who feel more in control of the purchasing process than ever before (70%) and who feel that retailers and advertisers have less influence over them (50%)," GfK Consumer SVP Lew Paine said. "This continues to reduce consumer loyalty to retailers. In fact, according to our future buy 2011 consumer study, more than half agree that they are less loyal to any one retailer because they need to shop around more to find the best value."

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