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Deloitte: Consumers will increase spending this holiday season

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — Shoppers plan to spend more during the upcoming holiday season with omnichannel shoppers having even higher spending expectations. According to Deloitte’s 29th annual holiday survey, total holiday spending is predicted to increase by 13% to $1,299 per household, including gifts, socializing away from home, entertaining at home, non-gift clothing for family or self, home/holiday furnishings, and any other holiday-related spending not in the other categories.
 
Spending on just gifts is expected to rise by 9% to $458 from $421 the prior year. Consumers who shop across store, mobile and online channels are expected to spend 66% more on gifts than those shopping stores only, $592 compared to $357. The number of gifts consumers expect to purchase increased to 13.4, up from 12.9 in 2013, but nearly 10 fewer gifts than the high of 23.1 in 2007.
 
The internet and discount/value stores once again rank as the top shopping venues, with the internet number one for the second straight year. Nearly half (45%) plan to shop online, followed closely by 44% at discount/value stores. In-store purchases are expected to account for 52% of the holiday budget.
 
Shoppers appear undeterred by data breaches. More than half (55%) of respondents indicate they are concerned about the protection of their personal data when shopping online and 42% have the same concerns in-store. Though there is concern for personal data when shopping both online and in-store, 56% indicated they will continue to shop this holiday season at retailers that have experienced a data breach. Nearly four in 10 (36%) indicated “I am more likely to shop at a retailer who provides me education surrounding the security of my personal data.”
 
Other notable findings include:
 
• Consumers expect to make an average of five (4.6) trips to traditional “brick-and-mortar” stores during the holiday season.
• Clothing remains the top item consumers plan to purchase as a gift, cited by 45% of respondents; gift cards (43%) continue to hold the number two position, but are down from a high of 69% in 2007.   
• The top two gifts respondents would like to receive are gift cards (37%) followed by cash (35%).
• More than two-thirds (68%) plan to “shop local” this year. In the survey, “local retail stores” are defined as small businesses, independent retailers or boutique shops that are not part of national chains. 
• Forty-three percent of respondents will do a majority of their holiday shopping in December or later, an increase of 6% age points from 2013.
• Almost seven in 10 (68%) indicated they will go online to look at an item, then go to a store to see it and buy it in the store (“webrooming”).
• Nearly half (49%) indicated they will go to a store to look at an item, then search online for the best price and then purchase online (“showrooming”).
• Roughly three-quarters (74%) of shoppers say they will be influenced by coupons/promotions.
• Consumers plan to take advantage of a number of retailer offerings this year, including free shipping (68%), free returns (52%), price matching (45%), extended holiday hours (35%), order online for pick up in-store (34%) and free layaway (16%).
• Nearly half (47%) of shoppers say they do not rely on Black Friday as much as they used to for holiday shopping.  
 
 “With the short, 27-day shopping stretch between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, retailers need to be sharp with their promotional timing, inventory management and distribution capabilities,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and retail sector leader, Deloitte LLP. “Retailers that can fulfill orders from both online distribution centers and store inventories, for example, may be more nimble and poised to respond quickly to pockets of high demand for certain gifts—and ensure timely holiday deliveries.”

 

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Family Dollar shareholders to vote on Dollar Tree merger Dec. 11

BY Michael Johnsen

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores on Tuesday announced the commencement of mailing of the definitive proxy statement/prospectus and proxy cards for the Special Meeting of Family Dollar shareholders to be held on Dec. 11 to vote on the merger with Dollar Tree. 
 
Shareholders of record as of the close of business on Oct. 30, 2014, will be entitled to vote at the Special Meeting. 
 
MacKenzie Partners is serving as the company’s proxy solicitor. Morgan Stanley & Co. is serving as exclusive financial advisor to Family Dollar and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is serving as legal counsel. 
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Lowe’s Innovation Labs debuts retail robots

BY DSN STAFF

 

 
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A new innovation Lowe's is currently testing in two stores could be a nod to the future of in-store service. Lowe's Innovation Labs will introduce two autonomous retail service robots in an Orchard Supply Hardware store in midtown San Jose, Calif., during the upcoming holiday season to study how robotics technology can benefit customers and employees. Called OSHbot, the robots will assist customers to navigate stores by directing them to specific products and providing real-time information about product promotions and inventory.
 
In the coming months, OSHbot will also be able to communicate with customers in multiple languages and remotely connect with expert employees at other Orchard stores to answer specific project questions. 
 
For store employees, OSHbot will provide an additional layer of support by helping customers with simple questions, enabling more time for them to focus on delivering project expertise. Applications designed to support employees also include real-time inventory management and connecting with employees in other locations to share know-how and answer customer questions.
 
The OSHbot incorporates scanning technology first developed for the Lowe's Holoroom home improvement simulator. For example, a customer may bring in a spare part and scan the object using OSHbot's 3D sensing camera. After scanning and identifying the object, OSHbot will provide product information to the customer and help guide them to its location on store shelves.  
 
The OSHbot was developed through a partnership between Lowe's Innovation Labs and Fellow Robots, a Silicon Valley technology company specializing in the design and development of autonomous service robots. The partnership was initiated through SU Labs, a Singularity University program that connects corporate innovation teams with startups and other organizations to explore exponentially accelerating technologies and create new sustainable business solutions. 
 
"Using science fiction prototyping, we explored solutions to improve customer experiences by helping customers quickly find the products and information they came in looking for," said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs. "As a result we developed autonomous retail service robot technology to be an intuitive tool customers can use to ask for help, in their preferred language, and expect a consistent experience."

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