Consumers Not Jolly About Shopping This Holiday Season (qSample Study)

Santa Claus asleep by a pile of gifts

 

It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas…at least in the minds of retailers eager to race into the black as the Holiday Season gears up. With a seemingly improving economy, many businesses expect a robust increase in sales this year.

Will their Yule wishes be granted?

Not likely, based on qSample’s syndicated study. Christmas shoppers appear to be stuck in neutral from 2014, in many ways. The primary research was conducted utilizing our general population online panel. More than 300 respondents participated. The findings agree with the National Retail Federation, which sees holiday sales tepid in 2015 (even if it’s estimated that Holiday sales will total $630 billion).

Almost half of surveyed respondents (49%) claimed they would spend the same amount on gifts as last year. Twenty percent said they would spend more, while 24% plan to spend less in 2015. As the National Retail Federation forecasts, holiday sales will only increase by 3.5% from the previous year, the lowest raise since 2010.

That’s a “Ba Humbug!” if it holds true.

 

Reasons why consumers are resistant to spending

 

Why holiday spending seems to be sputtering could be due to a negative perception of the economy. However, that doesn’t conform with the study’s results. Thirty-seven percent of respondents claimed to be positive about the economy this Holiday Season. The same margin of respondents (37%) felt that the economy was the same this time last year, with 25% stating they felt negative towards the economy.

The data could reflect a “what and see” attitude for consumers, who are neither excited nor concerned about economic realities or opportunities. It will likely mean more work for vendors to entice shoppers once Black Friday comes and goes. That will be a hard task, it appears, as 40% of respondents plan on spending between $100 and $500 on gifts, while only 20% will spend more than $500 during the Holiday Season.

 

Other difficulties for sellers

 

A further startling takeaway is the notion that tech will rule the Holiday shopping world. It doesn’t seem to be the case, or the vision of expensive iPhones and Samsung Ultra’s flying off the shelves. According to the study, devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers and tech accessories come in sixth place for all preferred gift categories. Other technology like televisions or home appliances ranks even lower. Here is the breakdown:

1. Clothing (21%)
2. Gift Cards (19%)
3. Toys (14%)
4. Cash (13%)
5. Home decoration/products (11%)
6. Mobile technology (9%)
7. General technology (televisions, home appliances, etc.) (7%)
8. Other (6%)

As for shopping preferences, a majority in the study (37%) plan on using both online and stores as their preferred method of shopping (with 25% shopping online and 29% going to stores exclusively). Less than one percent said they would use catalogs to buy gifts.

The hospitality and airline industries might not fare better than retailers in 2015. Sixty-eight percent of respondents claimed they would not travel during this Holiday Season, while 54% said they plan on going out for celebrations and parties at the same rate as 2014.

Everything could be stuck in neutral this Holiday Season, even stress levels. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said that they feel the same levels of stress during any given Holiday Season. The largest source of stress are finances (27%), with shopping itself coming in second (20%) and family in third(15%). Dieting was considered the least source of stress (six percent), but it’s reasonable to think that number will go up as the new year approaches.

 

Conclusion

 

Clearly, these numbers could shift as the Holiday Season gains more velocity and retailers get creative (and desperate) in their marketing efforts in the latter part of December. However, it seems that, like the economy, Holiday shopping will be neither good nor bad in monetary terms.

Yet when it comes to retailers across the country, average usually equates with having coal in a stocking.

Holiday Shopping Infographic 2015

 

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