Americans aren't just more adept at using the Internet for holiday shopping every year, they're more nimble at clicking their way through to bigger discounts.
Online visits to the Retail 500 are up 17.5% so far this year, reports Experian -- and it is predicting that this holiday, that means people will be looking harder (and earlier) for big discounts. "Consumers are definitely on the hunt for the deal," says Bill Tancer, head of global research for Experian Marketing Services, in its 2011 holiday webinar. "Three to four years ago, for example, we wouldn't see an increase in Black Friday searches until mid-November. Now, we're starting to capture data as early as the end of September."
Among the most popular searches are percent-off deals. "In 2009, 20% was the most common search, then 30% in 2010. We expect more of that," he says, "since consumers tend to be conditioned to search for offers they've already seen."
A relatively new demographic, which it calls "Boomers and Boomerangs," Boomers that have adult children living at home with them again, are among the most active deal-seekers.
But just as consumers are shopping earlier, Experian forecasts that retailers will push the shopping calendar in the other direction. Last year, he says, there was a 34% increase in email marketing between Dec. 22 and 31.
It is also predicting an increase in free shipping searches. While they have been declining for the past three years, there's been an upward trend since February.
And as far as hot holiday search items, the same footwear atrocity comes up on top: Uggs. "Much to the chagrin of fashion journalist, it's been Uggs for the last four or five years, and we're actually already up a few percentage points so far. I don't think this year is going to be any different."