Accenture: 40% of consumers expect to spend more on gifts this year

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Sparked by increasing optimism around their personal financial situations, U.S. consumers are showing a dramatic increase in their spending expectations this holiday season, with 40% planning to spend more on holiday shopping this year — a big difference from the 25% who said the same last year, according to Accenture’s annual holiday shopping survey.
The survey found that while consumers are willing to spend more this year, they are still enticed by a good deal. As many as 87% of shoppers are typically persuaded to purchase an item by discounts of 20% or more, and 23% are persuaded by discounts of just 20% – 29%.
While some retailers are closing their doors on Thanksgiving, consumers remain enthusiastic about shopping that day, with 50% likely to do so, up from 45% in 2014. On par with 2014, 63% of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday. Consumers are split between planning to shop via their laptop/desktop on Thanksgiving (43%) and Black Friday (42%), while 40% and 42% plan to shop in-store on Thanksgiving and Black Friday respectively. Younger shoppers especially males are the most likely to shop on Thanksgiving day/night. Under a third (between 28% – 32%) of this group will purchase between 50%–100% of their items in-store or on laptop/desktop.
“With consumers willing to spend more on holiday purchases again this year, this holiday season represents a strong opportunity for retailers,” said Patricia Walker, senior managing director, products, and North America retail practice lead at Accenture. “However, in order to capitalize on the opportunity, retailers need to focus on offering a seamless experience for shoppers who will be shopping both online and in-store. As consumers make digital technology a natural part of their lives, their shopping habits have evolved rapidly. If they experience personalization on one channel, they start to expect it across all channels. This represents a great opportunity for retailers who take advantage of new and emerging digital technologies to enhance the shopping experience.”
Despite increased instances of cybersecurity breaches across multiple industries in the past year, consumers are increasingly open to sharing personal information with retailers in order to receive personalized offers. The Accenture survey revealed that 51% of U.S. consumers are willing to share personal information, up from 33% indicating a willingness to do so in 2014. Meanwhile, one quarter (24%) are unsure and another quarter (25%) are unlikely to share personal information.
When it comes to enticing shoppers to share their personal information and shopping preferences, respondents revealed that discounts and coupons (cited by 72%) are the most popular catalysts, while rebate schemes (cited by only 23%) are the least likely to entice them. Additionally, when considering channels, e-mail (cited by 53%) and in-store promotions (cited by 53%) are the channels where consumers feel they are most enticed by offers and coupons.
“What we see is that consumers are prepared to share personal information in order to get personalized benefits. [Some] 56% of respondents prefer discounts or deals to be proactively sent to them, with those aged 18 – 35 wanting these discounts to be highly personalized and relevant. For retailers, it is important that they strike the right balance in the customer relationship to create trust, engagement, affinity, desire and delight. Retailers must be able to adapt their approach to address the privacy needs of each individual customer,” Walker said.
The survey revealed that more than 69% of U.S. shoppers are likely to participate in ‘webrooming’ (shopping for products online before visiting the retail store to make their purchase) and 65 percent are likely to participate in ‘showrooming’ (visiting a store to review a product before purchasing it online). Among those likely to take part in webrooming, top reasons for doing so included preferring to touch and feel the product before purchasing it (cited by 49 percent), wanting to make sure a product is in stock before going in-store to purchase it (cited by 46%) and to avoid paying for shipping (cited by 42%).
Interestingly, most 18-44 year olds are likely to use “showrooming” while all age groups are happy to use “webrooming.” Nearly half of females (46%) will use “webrooming” to avoid the cost of shipping.
For those consumers purchasing items online and picking them up in-store, 67% are likely to buy additional items during their in-store visit (up from 57% in 2014) . Females between the ages of 25-34 are the group most likely to buy additional items when using the in-store pick up option.
Fifty-four percent of respondents prefer shopping online to a brick-and-mortar store when a retailer has a presence in both channels — though one-in-10 say the channel they use depends on the planned purchase.
Almost two-thirds of consumers surveyed say social media will have some influence on their purchasing decisions, largely among the 18-44 age demographic. Key reasons for social media’s influence included being able to see what’s trending and what other shoppers are buying in real-time (cited by 46%) and feeling the ads and offers on social media are highly relevant to them (cited by 33%).
“Retail is everywhere, and no longer about a location or a channel. Today’s on-the-go nature of consumers has influenced shifts in channel preferences," Walker said. "While we know consumers value content and social media that reflects their lifestyles, our research shows us that social media has very little influence on the purchasing decisions of those aged 45 and over. The younger shoppers who are influenced by social media mostly like to see what’s trending and what others are buying."
For consumers planning to visit brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season, the top three factors that would enhance their in-store shopping experience are in-store promotions (cited by 55%), being able to touch, feel and see items in person (cited by 46%) and seamless operations such as short lines and quick service (cited by 42%). When it comes to technology enhancing the in-store experience, most consumers ranked digital coupons as the most important technology, followed by self-service payment options and kiosks with digital set-ups.
Additional trends highlighted by the survey include:
  • 56% of shoppers prefer to be targeted proactively with discounts and deals, compared with only 20% who prefer to seek out deals themselves;
  • Among benefits offered by retailers, 39% of shoppers plan to take advantage of competitor price matching on the spot, while only 18% plan to take advantage of lay-away; and
  • Just under half (42%) of females aged 18 – 44 years will take advantage of purchasing online and having it delivered in-store while 48% of younger males are more interested in competitor price matching.
Fewer shoppers than in previous years (28%, down from 32% in 2014 and 41% in 2013) believe that Thanksgiving should be spent with family versus holiday shopping. A quarter (24%) of women start shopping early or randomly throughout the year with an even higher percentage (37%) starting in the autumn period whilst a fifth (22%) of men go gang-busters from Thanksgiving/Black Friday or start around December when they get into the Holiday festivities.
Men who shop late are hoping to have better discounts, especially males aged 25-34. Of note, 100% of 35-44 year old men say they are too busy to shop earlier followed by three quarters (75%) of younger males. The women who shop late do so because they want more time to save.
For the most popular items shoppers plan to buy, apparel topped the list (cited by 69% versus 56% in 2014) and gift cards came in second (cited by 64% versus 57% in 2014).
Approximately 39% of shoppers will spend an average of $26 to $50 on a gift card this holiday season, mostly from discount retailers (46%) and restaurants (45%), which were also top choices in the 2014 survey. Over half (53%) of those between 45 – 59 years spend more on restaurants.
Top frustrations keeping consumers from purchasing more goods online include: shipping costs (cited by 60%); not being able to see, touch and feel the product (cited by 49%); shipping delays (cited by 36%); and security concerns (cited by 29%).
Top frustrations keeping consumers from purchasing more goods in-store include: long waiting lines and crowds (cited by 65%); distance to store locations (cited by 35%); parking challenges (cited by 34%); and lack of desired inventory options at a particular store (cited by 30%).
Only 2% of consumers are planning to shop on mobile devices, with most (43%) citing privacy and security issues as a major reason for not shopping on mobile devices.

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