Consumers are increasing their gift-gifting this year, according to Deloitte’s 29th annual holiday shopping survey. This optimistic outlook has been shared with other analysts, but Deloitte details all aspects in its 32-page report. Below is a brief overview of the findings from the report that surveyed over 5,000 consumers.
Deloitte anticipates an increase of 4 to 4.5 percent in holiday spending this season. This growth rate is “the result of improving perceptions of the economy, an onslaught of digital technology influencing consumers, more choices from a growing pool of online competitors, and fears of security breaches.”
Over half of respondents believe the economy is slowly recovering from the recession, leading to 69 percent of consumers planning to spend more or the same as they did during the 2013 holiday season. With more spending and only 42 percent adhering to a budget this season, retailers are presented with a great opportunity to capitalize on this extra expenditure. Deloitte encourages retailers to take advantage of this challenge and opportunity by providing “in-demand products as well as product complements and premium options…equip sales associates to suggest and point customers toward these complementary and premium offerings.” The anticipated increase for holiday spending is 13 percent, growing from $1,154 in 2013 to $1,299 in 2014.
Americans are continuing the “webrooming” trend, with 68 percent of respondents indicating they are likely or somewhat likely to webroom compared to 49 percent of respondents who are likely or somewhat likely to showroom. In regards to specific purchasing trends, 52 percent of consumers plan to shop in store and 40 percent plan to shop online. Even though 40 percent may seem like an alarming number, the average consumer will shop at 4.6 venues over the holidays, so numerous retailers will be patronized. Even though the internet and department stores are the top holiday shopping venues, 16 percent of respondents will visit home improvement stores.
While consumers may shop online, it is not always the preferred method. In fact, Deloitte presented survey respondents with 17 retail venue categories and ask surveyed consumers “whether they preferred the online or in-store shopping experience in each category” and in-store shopping scored higher in all 17 categories. The venues that had the highest preference for in-store shopping included home improvement stores.
The struggle many retailers face is how to improve the customer experience and take personalization to the next level. Deloitte’s research shows that small changes can be made to improve the in-store shopping experience. The top four biggest grievances customers have in regards to shopping in store are: 1. Long lines 2. Too much traffic 3. Unavailable merchandise and 4. Slow checkout. Three of these four inhibitors can be controlled via operational practices. Ensuring enough sales associates are present allows the long lines and slow checkouts to cease. Maintaining quality inventory that is in-demand or providing alternate outlets to purchase these products is another way to enhance the in-store shopping experience.
Deloitte found that “48 percent of respondents indicated that a knowledgeable sales associate increased their likelihood of an in-store purchase,” but 58 percent of respondents believe they are more knowledgeable than the sales associate that serves them. Ensure your sales associates are well versed in all return policies and can answer customer questions.
One of the biggest competitive advantages of an independent home improvement store is the fact that they are independent. Local, independent retailers support the community and provide a unique and personalized feel that publicly traded retailers do not provide.
Deloitte’s survey found that 68 percent of consumers plan to shop at a local store this holiday season, dedicating 35 percent of their holiday budget to these stores. The top two reasons consumers are dedicating their time and effort to these local stores is due to the community support and one-of-a-kind gifts these shops provide. Exploit these characteristics of your store through in-store displays and promotional pieces. Let the whole community know that you are a local store providing unique, local gifts.
Use social media to promote gifts you have in store, as 45 percent of social media using respondents plan to incorporate these platforms into their shopping process. The main ways consumers will use social media throughout the shopping process is by developing gift ideas followed by finding discounts and reading reviews. By maintaining social media accounts, retailers can easily relay gift ideas or promotional content to consumers, getting more customers into their stores.
Click here to read the full copy of Deloitte’s 2014 annual holiday shopping survey.