Based on a survey of 16,000 consumers across all nine census regions, the New York-based brand and customer loyalty research consultancy finds that 35% say they plan to spend less on this year's shopping-- shelling out an average of about $775.
That estimate is decidedly more downbeat than projections recently released by the National Retail Federation, which is predicting a small increase of 1.9%, with shoppers spending an average of $832.36 on holiday-related shopping. The International Council of Shopping Centers just released its forecast, calling for a gain of 1.7%. And last week, NPD Group predicted flat-to-declining sales.
In addition to a more dour outlook, Brand Keys also notes some key psychographic trends. While consumers consistently want to be seen as "wise shoppers," the study notes, they are feeling that imperative more keenly than ever this year, with 20% more of them planning to spend their dough in discount stores, 35% more shopping online, and 20% more using catalogs.
The big losers will be specialty stores, with 33% fewer people planning to shop there, and 5% less shopping at department stores.
Consumers in this survey say they will be less likely to buy consumer electronics as gifts, down 13%. But 15% more say they plan to buy gift cards.
Brand Keys also reports that almost two-thirds of the consumers in the survey (60%) say they have already started shopping, looking for bargain gifts well before the traditional Thanksgiving kickoff period.