In what will surely come as a bolt from the blue to many people, men are procrastinators, especially when it comes to toughing it out with the holiday throngs at the local mall.
In a survey of shoppers about their holiday shopping plans, the National Retail Federation (NRF) finds that 19.4% of all men hadn't even started shopping as of Dec. 11. The same was true of 13.7% of women, and 17.6% all young adults, ages 18 to 24. And a total of 25 million consumers say they have completely wrapped up all their holiday shopping, which should make for more parking places for the 35 million who have not yet begun to shop.
Timing of gift purchases is always important to retail observers--but especially so this year, with many retailers worrying that sales may come in below already-low projections.
More dawdling signals that consumers are worried about money or that they're holding out for price cuts. And so far, the average person is delaying shopping compared with last year, but not by much. The NRF reports that the average person has completed 52.6% of holiday shopping, compared to 53.1% at this time last year.
The NRF has predicted that holiday sales will increase just 4% this year, to $474.5 billion--and such big retailers as Target and Sears have already sent up warning flares that holiday sales may be weaker than expected.
So far, clothing and accessories are the most frequently purchased gift items, with 44.4% buying at least one item. Books, CDs, and DVDs (41.9%) came in second, followed by toys (35.4%). The two least favorite categories are sporting goods and leisure, with only 11.8% of shoppers saying they have made such a purchase, and jewelry, with 17.1%.
And only 30.2% of those polled have purchased a gift card--the favorite gift of procrastinators everywhere. Typically, card sales increase as the clock runs out.