Bring Out The Holly: Holiday Forecasts Bullish

Holiday-Spending

The outlook for the coming holiday season seems to look brighter every day. Just out is Brand Keys survey of some 16,200 consumers, who say they are going to spend 6% more than they did last year. That jump is twice as big as the prior year. And BDO has released its poll of CMOs of leading retailers -- a group that is forecasting a 4.7% gain, its biggest bump since 2007.

Despite their (relatively) big spending plans, consumers are still being careful, Brand Keys reports, with 70% saying they are at least somewhat fretful about the economy. 

“No matter how much consumers spend, the time-honored ‘price-value’ equation retailers have relied on for decades has been transformed by the economy, in-market experience, consumer expectations and digitally connected smartphone-armed consumers, morphing into a ‘value-for-dollar’ doctrine,” says Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff in its release. “Retailers who understand consumer expectations and know how to address them will see higher profits. Unfortunately, most retailers think offering lower prices earlier will do it for them.” 

For example, 60% say they will use comparison shopping apps and “showrooming” to find those deals, with 56% vowing to rely on coupons and promotions. They are also more willing to wait retailers out for a better offer, with 36% of the sample waiting until December to shop, and another 9% waiting until the last two weeks.

While there were practically no changes in where consumers say they intend to shop, there is a shift in their customer service expectations, with 15%of shoppers saying customer service and experience can influence where they shop, up from 10% last year.

Meanwhile, BDO’s survey finds that CMOs at major retail chains are confident, too, noting that the marketing execs haven’t been this upbeat since they forecast a 5% gain back in 2007.

And with all the new product announcements from such high-tech leaders as Apple, Google and Microsoft, 62% predict that consumer electronics will be the best-selling (albeit most discounted) product category. And 58% say that gift cards, the perennial favorite gift, will continue to grow this year, fueled by digital gift cards from such chains as Starbucks, Home Depot and Amazon.

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