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Lower Holiday Spending Prompts ‘Black Friday,’ Mobile Focus

20 Nov, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

With about 63% of U.S. shoppers intending to spend less this holiday season compared to last year, nearly 66% of shoppers plan to navigate anticipated crowded stores to purchase gifts on Black Friday — slightly up from last year, according to reports.

While 29% of consumers also plan to shop on the weekend following the traditional post-Thanksgiving holiday sales holiday, 53% expect in-store deals to rival online specials, according to Consumer Reports.

Separately, The Yankee Group said retailers and manufacturers this season would increasingly target consumers through so-called “mobile retailing.” Brand and retailer-initiated mobile marketing targets cell phones to distribute advertising, coupons and loyalty campaigns.

“Until recently, retailers have exercised tremendous power over consumers’ shopping experience,” said Christopher Collins, Yankee Group senior analyst and author of the report. “Use of mobile applications, social media and smartphones this year will shift that control into the hands of the consumer.”

Indeed, 31% of smartphone users have used their device to compare products or prices while shopping in a retail store, according to the Yankee Group. Among consumers who have used their device for comparison-shopping, 40% changed their behavior, either by buying a cheaper item or purchasing from a different retailer.
Despite the abundance of advertising, online product reviews and shopping blogs, 70% of purchase decisions are still made in the store, according to the report.

Consumer Reports said 70% of shoppers plan to purchase electronics making them a close second behind clothing (71%). Out of that 70%, three out of four (78%) will be purchasing electronics as a gift, while over half (55%) will also be gifting a new gadget to themselves. 

The electronics items consumers are looking to purchase include video games or accessories (46%), MP3 players or iPods (22%), video game systems (21%), laptops or netbooks (20%), digital cameras (16%), and flat-panel TVs (13%).

“Consumers are determined to get as much value as they can for their money these days,” said Greg Daugherty, Consumer Reports executive editor. “That means they are willing to put in extra time comparison shopping.”

The publication said that on average, consumers would spend 13 hours shopping for gifts this holiday season. The past two years, it was estimated to take about 11 hours.

Over the past four holiday seasons, about 75% of married women reported they do at least 75 percent of their household’s gift shopping, with about 40% of married women doing all of it.

Once the gifts are purchased, consumers say gift-wrapping will take 2.3 hours. More than a third (37%) of consumers estimate they will spend more than three hours gift-wrapping. Women (48%) are twice as likely as men (24%) to devote this amount of time.

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