The study, conducted by BIGResearch, says the average person had completed just 46.7% of their holiday shopping by the second week of December -- less than last year at this time, when 47.1% said they were all done. (Several other polls have reported that shoppers are holding back in hope of finding better bargains, and also because more are paying with cash.) In fact, NRF reports, that percentage is the lowest it has been since 2004.
The NRF predicts that as a result, retailers will keep emphasizing deals and discounts to the very last minute.
Separately, the NRF's Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) reports that Wal-Mart Stores's "Snowflake" ad has been rated the highest among viewers. In the heart-tugging spot, a son conjures up a snowstorm for his soldier Dad, who is deployed in the desert.
Wal-Mart leapfrogged over Target, which has topped the fan-favorite list every year since 2005, when the NRF and BIGResearch first began tracking retailers' holiday TV spots. And Wal-Mart won by a large margin -- this year, 25.5% of those polled selected the ad unaided, compared with just 16% for Target's ads. Last year, 24.2% named Target, versus 21.1% for Wal-Mart.
In this year's poll, Best Buy came in third. And Gap, which has been on a several-year hiatus from TV advertising, barreled into fourth place with its peppy "Cheer" spots. Macy's took No. 5 with its "Believe" campaign, followed by Gap's Old Navy division, starring mouthy mannequins. Kmart came in at seventh place, followed by Hallmark, which appears in the top ten for the first time. Sears and Kohl's rounded out the top 10.
Of course, how well ads are liked doesn't say all that much about how well they work. Only 16.8% of the more than 9,900 adults polled by BIG say the ads they liked motivated them to shop at a given store, although women were slightly more likely (17.5%) to do so. And about a third say it didn't matter, because they shopped at that store anyway.
And while 22.6% say TV influences their decisions, it is a distant fourth place to coupons, with 44.6%, word of mouth (27.2%), and advertising inserts (26.9%).
For the first time, the RAMA/BIG survey also asked consumers to nominate an online promotion they liked, and Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Kohl's made the best impression.