Americans expect to spend an average of $637 on holiday shopping this year, Accenture reported in its 13th annual Holiday Shopping Survey, released October 1. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they plan to spend the same as last year, while 28% said they plan to spend more.
Consumers expect to do half their shopping in stores or malls on average. Instead of searching for a better price online after seeing an item in person, consumers said they'd be likely to purchase the item right there in the store. Lower prices are the main driver of these anticipated in-store purchases, according to the survey, with 82% of responses choosing it as their top factor, while 77% of respondents said special offers or discounts would motivate them.
The survey noted that consumers are searching for "responsible retail," with 45% reporting they'd be more likely to shop at retailers that address social issues through their business practices. Half said they'd be willing to choose delivery options with a lower environmental impact such as slower shipping or in-store pickup.
As retailers strive to employ discounts and promotions wisely throughout the holiday season, focusing on "responsible" features may attract shoppers who are focused on more than just price.
"Retailers need to design their products and their business around responsible initiatives," Jill Standish, senior managing director of retail at Accenture, said in a statement. "Those already on this path could have the edge over their competitors this holiday season and beyond."
But even with all the holiday trimmings and a focus on sustainability, will customer spending follow through?
The percentage of respondents who said they'll spend less rose from 11% in 2018 to 15% this year. Accenture noted two main factors cited by respondents: rising food bills (32%) and avoiding additional credit card debt (31%). Americans' increasing credit card debt could be a factor for many this holiday season.
Consumers added $35.6 billion in credit card debt in the second quarter of 2019, an all-time record for that quarter. Shoppers carrying a balance into Q4 may be wary about adding more to that tab, although typically the holiday season is a major period for new credit card applications, according to WalletHub.
Regardless of how they'll pay, consumers are learning that good deals are plentiful throughout the holiday season. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they're not likely to shop on Black Friday, and 58% said they're less inclined to shop on Thanksgiving day. Fifty percent and 51% of respondents, respectively, reported the same last year.
Consumers said they want to avoid crowds, spend time with family, and are "able to get equally good discounts on other days." Gift cards and apparel and footwear were the top planned purchases for the 1,500 participants.