Black Friday Weekend Shoppers Expected to Grow Y-O-Y

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One-third of US consumers say they will “definitely” be shopping this Black Friday, up 23% from 27.1% of consumers in 2010, according to a November survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) conducted by BIGresearch. Data from the survey indicates that up to 152 million people plan to shop Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), higher than the 138 million who planned to do so last year. Of those, 74 million say they will definitely hit the stores, while the remainder are waiting to see if the bargains are worth braving the cold and the crowds.
These results are mirrored by a November survey from ConsumerSearch.com, which found that 61% of respondents plan to shop in store this Black Friday. According to the survey, the biggest draw by far for shoppers is the lure of discounts and deals (87%), followed distantly by the overall excitement of the day (37%) and the chance to complete holiday shopping early (30%). Of those who plan to avoid stores on Black Friday, the biggest reasons include disliking the crowds and commotion (78%), hating long lines at checkout (65%), and not wanting to wake up early just to shop for deals (54%).

Whether the greater foot traffic will generate increased spending is unsure, though: according to a November poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of RetailMeNot.com, just 11% of adults plan on spending more this holiday shopping season compared to last year, while 37% say they expect to spend less.

Ad Circulars Most Popular Sales Tracking Device

According to the NRF, 1 in 2 consumers plan to keep up with advertising circulars throughout the holiday season to keep track of retailers’ holiday sales and promotions announcements. Close to one-third say they will tune in to watch retailers’ holiday commercials and specifically keep track of the email coupons they receive from retailers, while 1 in 4 will seek out coupon websites such as RetailMeNot.com and FatWallet.com. A smaller proportion will follow company sales announcements on social media: 17.3% say they will monitor retailers’ Facebook pages, and 11.3% will check out group-buying sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. Meanwhile, the proportions are slightly higher among tablet owners who plan to shop for or research holiday items this year: 31.2% will check out retailers’ Facebook pages, while 21.3% will seek out group buying sites.

Free Shipping, Discounts Favorite Offers

Results from the RetailMeNot poll show that when it comes to preferences toward promotional offers this holiday season, free shipping (26%) ranks first, followed by a certain percentage off (23%), buy one-get one free offers (20%), and a certain dollar amount off (18%). Free shipping tends to be more enticing to women than to men (31% vs. 21%), while college graduates (31%) and parents (30%) are more likely than others to say that a certain percentage off makes them most inclined to make a purchase.

An October survey from the e-tailing group found free shipping to be the most important site promotion, rated by 73% of consumers as a top 2 very important or critical feature when making a purchase from a website.

Clothing and Accessories Top Intended Gifts

According to the RetailMeNot poll, 54% of adults say they are interested in making a clothing and accessories purchase this holiday season. Other popular items include books, movies and music (44%), consumers electronics (37%), toys (34%), and bath and beauty products/treatments (26%). These results differ markedly from a November BDO USA survey: a majority of merchants responding to that survey believed that consumers electronics would be the top performing product category this holiday season, with just 16% expecting toys to be top performers, followed by apparel (11%), home goods (10%), and lifestyle goods (8%).

Meanwhile, according to the ConsumerSearch survey, nearly one-third of respondents identified toys as the item they dreaded purchasing most. The top reasons why included having to fight through crowds (43%), fear of buying the wrong version or type of product (42%), concern about cost (40%), and fear of not having enough knowledge about the product (38%).

Other Findings

  • 83% of the respondents to the ConsumerSearch survey claimed that they enjoy the holidays more when a store gives them a free gift with their purchase.
  • The RetailMeNot poll found that nearly half of working adults plan to spend time holiday shopping online during work hours this holiday season, including 11% who plan to spend 5 hours or more doing so.

About the Data: The NRF survey polled 8,502 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from November 1-8, 2011. ConsumerSearch.com conducted their survey of members of Research Now’s Consumer Panel in November 2011, polling 1,003 respondents. The RetailMeNot.com poll was conducted November 7-8, 2011. For the survey, national samples of 1,007 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online.

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