Concerns about planet Earth and global manufacturing also influenced where consumers shopped for holiday gifts this season, reports KPMG in its annual National Shopping Behavior Survey.
To be sure, the economic issues that have kept prognosticators up at night were also a major factor, with only 30% of those polled planning to increase holiday spending (compared with an average of 36% in the three prior annual surveys.)
"But when consumers had the opportunity, they purchased gifts to fit their social conscience," the tax firm says in its release. "The 'green quotient' and a product's country of origin have become important concerns for shoppers, due mainly to recent publicity on the environment and manufacturing issues in emerging markets."
Some 40% of consumers check where a product is made, for example, and 31% say they used that information to decide against a purchase. Overall, 79% of those label-checks resulted in a consumer saying "No, thanks" to a product from China. And in 52% of those cases, the products in question were toys.
In its survey, which a KPMG spokesperson says was conducted through Dec. 16, 88% describe themselves as "very concerned" about the environment, 74% say they buy environmentally friendly products, 60% say they are willing to pay more for such items, and 55% report making a special effort to patronize retailers with a "green" reputation.
Where shoppers spend the most is also shifting. Shoppers are still likely to do most of their spending at mass retailers, although that figure is down somewhat (some 28% of respondents say they spent the most at such stores as Wal-Mart and Target, compared to 30% last year), with 14% spending the most at "power retailers" such as Toys R Us and Best Buy, 12% spending the most at specialty stores like Gap and Radio Shack, 10% spending most at midline stores, including Kohl's, JCPenney and Sears, and 8% (compared to 9% last year) spending most at department stores such as Macy's and Dillard's.
But an increasing percentage of what KPMG calls "wallet share"--whether consumers are spending a larger or smaller portion of their holiday shopping budgets, where they are making purchases, and why--is winding up on the Internet and at these power retailers, KPMG says, "adding 4 points and 7 points, respectively."