According to an independent study from Synchrony Financial, consumers are approaching holiday shopping this year with optimism about their personal finances. Nearly half (47%) of surveyed consumers indicated that they are more confident in their financial situation than those surveyed last year (37%), and 48% plan to start their holiday shopping earlier this year.
Improved finances and larger gift lists are cited as reasons that 32% of shoppers surveyed plan to spend more this season than last season, up from 21% in 2014. Toys, games, electronics, apparel, shoes and gift cards are key gift buying categories. At the same time, over half (53%) of participants set a holiday budget and 76% report they always comparison shop to ensure the best price.
While shoppers surveyed are more confident, deals remain essential for holiday buying, and 39% report they expect to get the best deals on Black Friday. Of participants who expect to spend more this season, 90% intend to shop on special sale days. One-third of all respondents plan to start shopping before Black Friday, 54% expect to make a purchase on Black Friday, and 55% on Cyber Monday. Online research is an important part of the purchase process, especially for higher ticket items. Specifically, survey participants plan to purchase online more home improvement and electronics items in the $500+ category.
In-store still dominates for holiday shopping, but it’s a multi-channel experience. Holiday shopping online is considered easier by 70% of shoppers surveyed, and the most important reasons for buying online include free shipping, price and convenience. While online sales are growing at approximately 10% year-over-year, 51% of participants report they typically find out about holiday sales from their newspaper.
“In our survey, shoppers indicate they have more to spend and more to buy this season, influenced by their underlying confidence about their personal finances. This is similar to other insights we’ve gathered, showing shopper optimism is balanced with a spending plan and sales research to stretch dollars further and maximize discounts and rewards,” said Sanjay Sidhwani, senior vice president of Marketing Analytics for Synchrony Financial. “We are forecasting a 3.6% rise in holiday retail sales based on analyzing multiple factors that influence holiday buying across segments.”
More than 80% of shoppers surveyed intend to use credit to pay for at least some of their holiday purchases. Rewards are an important factor and the biggest differentiator for 40% of credit card users when deciding which credit card to use.
The pre-holiday, online survey, conducted September 18-28 on behalf of Synchrony Financial by RTi Research, examined the holiday shopping plans and preferences of more than 1,400 participants, including 701 Synchrony Bank cardholders and 700 random shoppers.
“In addition to this year’s survey, this is the second year Synchrony Financial has developed a holiday shopping forecast from evaluating historical data, trends, and a number of indicators such as unemployment, gas prices, private residential construction and non-traditional indicators,” Sidhwani noted.
The Synchrony Financial Market Research team provides insights into consumer attitudes and perceptions toward the retail brand, products and platforms to improve customer satisfaction.