The modern ritual of camping out in front of stores on Thanksgiving night in order to be the first to snatch up “Black Friday” bargains may be losing its appeal for many Americans. A new survey says that this year the turnout could be its lowest in three years.
Survey indicates focus and caution
Accenture, a management consulting firm, recently released the results of its annual online holiday shopping survey. The survey polled 500 consumers around the nation about their holiday shopping plans. Shoppers will be focused on getting just what they are after for the lowest price, the survey suggests.
Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail division, said:
“’Precision shoppers’ will dominate. They will be very targeted about where and what they buy, and will be more inclined to shop around for the best value.”
Lowest turnout in three years
This year, according to the survey, only 44 percent of American consumers will hit the stores on Black Friday. That’s down from 47 percent last year, and 52 percent in 2009. Fifty-two percent say they will delay their holiday shopping until after Black Friday. That figure was 42 percent in 2010.
Fifty-seven percent of those delaying shopping say it is in hope of finding even lower markdowns as the season winds down. The additional 35 percent are delaying so that they have more time to save money for holiday buying.
Economy drives spending
The economy seems to be the largest factor affecting this spending season. Seventy-two percent of those polled said they would be “careful” or “controlled” in their holiday spending. A full 40 percent cited bargains as their biggest concern.
“Retailers will also need to be thoughtful about their use of discounts and promotions,” Hoffman warned. “Discounts remain a top priority for the vast majority of consumers.”
Forty-three percent said they are pairing back spending due to a variety of factors related to the economy. Twenty-five percent say they will be having a “thrifty” holiday, and 18 percent plan to spend only on “necessities.”
Online shopping assistance
Another reason for the lower turnout is that many will be doing their holiday shopping online. Of those surveyed, 59 percent say they plan to do more than half of their holiday shopping online this season. That is a huge increase from 41 percent in 2010.
Hoffman cautioned retailers to know their market and be willing to match bargains from competitors. Fifty-four percent of polled consumers say they will be hitting the stores armed with smart phones and tablet computers.
“Retailers must not ignore the challenge presented by the mobile shopper checking prices using their device in-store,” Hoffman cautioned.