We’ve got the latest details on consumer confidence, employment, purchase plans, financial goals as well as what’s hot (or not) in our January 2013 Snapshot Summary. Here are some of the highlights:
- Did the fiscal cliff free fall we nearly experienced lead to more fragile sentiment for the New Year? For January, just over a third (35.3%) is very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy, down two points from last month.
- Though the U.S. unemployment rate remained stagnant at 7.8% for December, consumers maintain slightly higher hopes for the job market compared to thirty days ago. Look for unemployment to remain a hot topic in 2013, though: year-over-year; consumers look less optimistic about the pink slip situation.
- Perhaps some of those holiday gift cards are leading consumers to less practical pastures…this month, while nearly half are poised for pragmatic spending, this figure has declined three points from 30 days ago.
- New Year’s Resolution #1: Fix the Finances…in January, more than a third affirm that they plan to pay down debt and/or decrease overall spending over the next three months, rising from December as well as Jan-12 and Jan-11.
- With the annual average price of gas the highest on record in 2012, it should come as no surprise that drivers haven’t relegated this issue to the back seat…two-thirds are still affected by the pain at the pump. Drivers’ pump price prediction for the end of January is $3.52/gal, just under what was expected at the close of 2012.
- In this month’s retail roundup: In Women’s Clothing, Kohl’s bests Walmart for January, while the big discounter seems to be thisclose to losing the top spot in Shoes as well…stay tuned. Amazon proves it’s the biggest-freight-train-that-could in Electronics, nearly doubling customer share Y-O-Y. And, in an interesting development in Health & Beauty: it appears that 2013 could be a battle between Target and Walgreens…
- Evidence of a holiday hangover? With the gift-giving season in the rearview, consumers take a downward approach to spending compared to December.
- It’s blue skies ahead for vacationers in this month’s BIG Ticket, as 6 month purchase intentions for vacation travel have increased M-O-M and Y-O-Y.
- Not only is Amazon’s the world’s largest online retailer, but it’s the hottest as well…nearly four out of five consumers voted Amazon what’s hot in January. Plus: “Made in America” products, exercise/going to the gym, Super Bowl XLVII, and Walmart.
Our monthly Consumer Snapshot video analysis of the State of the Consumer for 2013 will be released tomorrow, January 16. This special edition includes quick insights on the five things you need to know about consumers in the New Year. To sign up to be a BIGinsight™ VIP and receive our Consumer Snapshot email notification, please click here.
And, to view the Snapshot Summary in its entirely: January 2013.
© 2013, Prosper®
BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development
Holiday 2012 has been an interesting selling season. Consumers are cautiously optimistic, planning to spend slightly above what they did in 2011, though the economy / unemployment are still troublesome and the fiscal cliff could still turn out to be the Grinch who stole Christmas. Undoubtedly, though, the shining star of the season has been the resurgence of gift cards.
While gift cards have been perennially touted as the perfect last-minute gift, a look at this year’s insights shows us that gift card buying patterns are shifting. For 2012, consumers aren’t waiting until Christmas Eve for these purchases; they are checking them off their lists much sooner. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly one-third (32.6%) of Black Friday Weekend* shoppers made a gift card purchase, up a whopping 40% from a year ago (23.1%). Further, as of the first week of December, holiday shoppers overall continue to pace ahead of previous years’ buying habits; two out of five (39.2%) have already purchased these stored-cash cards as gifts this season, up 25% from 2011 (31.4%).
So is 2012 shaping up to be the Year of the Gift Card? You betcha. So let’s take a look at three reasons why gift cards are a “must buy” among holiday shoppers this year.
1. We want gift cards – badly.
While they have been atop consumers’ wish lists since 2007, intent to buy gift cards sputtered during the recession as consumers reached for bargain merchandise that wouldn’t quite reveal the total dollar amount paid. This year, though, a record number of consumers are requesting them (59.8%, much higher than the second most request gift – apparel and accessories – at 49.1%), and a record number of shoppers are responding that they are planning to buy them (59.2%, nearly eclipsing the most purchased category – again apparel and accessories – at 59.7%).
Bonus: Buying a gift card spares the giver and receiver from that awkward “here’s the receipt for the return” exchange.
2. Gift cards are still practical gifts.
Gift cards may be tempting this year because they can still be perfectly practical, which is on what the near majority of consumers are remaining focused in this uncertain economy. Recipients can buy what they want or what they need – and either way, it’s money well spent on behalf of the giver and better than a sweater relegated to the back of someone’s closet, no? Shoppers may have a little extra cash in their pockets this year, but if they are going to spend their hard-earned (and hard-saved) pennies, they’ll do it wisely. And remember, a $50 gift card to a discounter might be one man’s (or woman’s) groceries at Target but another’s new home décor from Tar-Zhay.
Bonus: And speaking of sweaters, gift cards are one-size-fits-all, so no worrying about whether or not Aunt Clara really did lose that 10 lbs. this year when debating between a medium and a large [oy].
3. We can buy gift cards “on sale.”
Back in the day (so…five years ago), buying a $50 gift card meant that the purchaser would fork over $50 cash. And these days, with retailers and restaurateurs bending over backward to bring customers through their doors, it seems that incentives to buy gift cards are becoming increasingly creative as well as prevalent. Nowadays, a $100 gift card might come with a $20 bonus to use later (Merry Christmas to me, right?) Or, and this is one of the examples I saw a few times during my Black Friday exploits, a pack of five $20 gift cards might be discounted 20% to $80. Gift card purchasers may also be receiving more indirect incentives to purchase, such as grocery stores offering frequent shopper / fuel rewards or salons giving away coupon books for future services with gift cards purchases.
Bonus: Shop wisely and gift cards purchases can still come with that “you’ll-never-guess-what-I-paid-for-it” cachet, which was the feel good saying among holiday shoppers during the recession.
So are gift cards changing the way we approach shopping for holiday gifts? Certainly. However, when and if gift exchanges turn into gift card exchanges, I’ll bet we’ll see a renaissance of more traditional gift giving.
* “Black Friday Weekend” is defined as Thursday (Thanksgiving), Friday (Black Friday), Saturday, and Sunday.
This month’s Consumer Snapshot is ready! The video below is a concise look at a few trending topics for the month of December, designed to give you a BIG picture view of current consumers.
Here’s a brief overview of what we’re seeing from consumers in December 2012:
- Will the fiscal cliff prove to be the Grinch who stole Christmas? Confidence backs down two points from November.
– While the official unemployment rate registered at 7.7% for November,this doesn’t seem to be quite the hiring miracle consumers were hoping to see this season.
– After the buying bonanza that was Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers’ penchant for practicality rises in December.
– It appears that along with trimming the tree this month, consumers will also be trimming their budgets.
– Walmart versus Kohl’s is a toss-up this month in Women’s Clothing.
– Amazon.com climbs to record customer share in Electronics.
– It’s a frosty 90 Day Outlook with spending plans looking downward from Nov-12, Dec-11.
– What’s Hot? Holiday shopping…online.
Be sure to check out the NEW Consumer Snapshot InsightCenter™. When you register for complimentary access to this InsightCenter™, you’ll have the ability to segment an advance preview of our all-star insights on consumer confidence, employment, shopping strategies, and future purchase plans by several key demographic groups. You can also download this month’s text summary (which includes additional insights) as well as the PowerPoint analysis through this InsightCenter™.
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© 2012, Prosper®
BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.
When Amazon.com introduced the Kindle Fire in 2011, it was a budget-friendly game-changer for the growing tablet market that certainly shook the Apple tree. Fast forward to holiday 2012 and Apple – facing declining market share for its once superbly dominant iPad – has responded directly to the value-priced threat (from Amazon, Google, et al.) with its own $329 entry, the iPad mini. Not to be outdone, Amazon has recently launched the upgraded Kindle Fire HD – at the still very wallet-friendly $199 price point.
iPad mini sales are expected to exceed 5 million units this quarter, while the world’s largest online retailer touts the Kindle Fire HD as the “#1 most gifted product on Amazon.” And all of the back-and-forth between these two giants is enough to send Santa into a tizzy. With the shopping days until Christmas now numbered, let’s take a look at how the nearly 9,000 consumers we talk to each month feel about these two new tablets, courtesy of our popular “Hot or Not?” feature.
As it turns out, if you are planning on gifting either of these devices, you’re likely to make the recipient pretty happy. The majority of Adults 18+ rated the both the Kindle Fire HD (56.9%) and iPad mini (58.2%) as “hot,” though Apple’s device boasts a slight edge.
And if your recipient is a Gen X-er, you’re in luck: those born between 1965 and 1982 were the most likely to be fanning the flames on both of these “hot” tablets. Millenials followed, but expressed sentiment more in line with the general population. The Silent generation (much like its affinity for Apple iOS) and Boomers were more likely to boost the temperature on the iPad mini, rather than the Kindle Fire HD.
The upside for Amazon? It appears that we’ve stumbled upon a new slogan: Kindle Fire HD: Not Your Grandmother’s Tablet
I’ve been making a list, checking it twice, storing it in my mobile device…and clearly singing as I do so. Nearly 3 in 10 (29.7%) Mobile Users say they do the same—minus the singing. However, according to Prosper Mobile Insights™, the most popular merry mobile activity among smartphone and tablet users is taking pictures (85.0%), so get ready for all the Instagram notifications! The majority also plan to check the weather and keep in touch with loved ones they won’t get to see for the holidays, thanks to mobile making it so easy to share every holiday moment with those near and far.
Top mobile holiday activities are similar across genders, and there really isn’t much of a battle between men and women when it comes to spreading holiday cheer via technology. Women win the title of “Cheermeister” on nearly all mobile activities analyzed. From sharing holiday experiences through social media, to looking for holiday recipes and even purchasing products, Female Mobile Users appear more likely than their male counterparts to get merry with mobile this year:
Click here to access the complimentary Mobile InsightCenter™ and see all of the holiday mobile activities!
Women are also much more prone than men to use their smartphones and tablets for discovering new decorating ideas, keeping track of upcoming holiday events (thank you Google calendar for reminding me where I need to be all the time!) and keeping gift lists. If you are like me, that gift list doesn’t just say “shirt for brother” – it lists the brand, color, size, special fit and perhaps even a photo so you can just show a store associate and quickly locate what you need.
Speaking of shopping…searching for gifts, stores and deals is another hot holiday activity to accomplish via mobile among both men and women, along with purchasing products. To find out more about how Mobile Users prefer to make mobile purchases, be sure to check out our latest release: Browsers/Apps More Popular than Swipe/Tap Method for Mobile Holiday Purchasing, according to Prosper Mobile Insights™
Source: Prosper Mobile Insights™ Mobile Survey, NOV-12, N=333
© 2012, Prosper®
Shopping on Black Friday made me feel old this year.
Not because we actually began shopping on Thursday. Not because I’ve been scouting out the doorbusters, deep discounts, and special sales for close to 20 years. But because the general make-up of the bargain hunting crowds really seemed to shift this year. After heading out at 8PM on Thanksgiving, it seemed like we were met by a sea of tweens and teens. Before I knew it, my friend and I were muttering phrases like “Where are your parents?” and “Don’t you have a curfew?”
The progressively earlier store openings for the “Black Friday” bonanza of shopping has apparently lent itself to a whole new group of shoppers. Instead of the traditional early birds setting their alarms clocks for 3AM Friday and trudging to the stores half asleep, younger night owls are increasingly appearing, hopped up on coffee and seemingly eager to do “something” after Thanksgiving dinner. While the Black Friday Weekend* insights released by the National Retail Federation (conducted by BIGinsight™) don’t include the tweenagers with which we shared the stores this year, it’s still interesting to take a look at some of shopper shifts among the 18+ age groups that we’re witnessing with the age-old Black Friday shopping tradition.
Younger Crowds Own the Thanksgiving Shopping Trend. Among Black Friday Weekend shoppers who checked out the deals on Thanksgiving Day (in-store or online), the percentage of 18-34 year olds increased a whopping 30% over a year ago. That compares to just an 8% rise among those 35 to 54 and 9% with the 55 and over crowd. So, while we know that shopping on Turkey Day is a rising trend, it’s clearly one driven by a younger demographic.
Merry Christmas to Me. Yes Virginia – this is the season of giving – but with doorbuster deals like $8 dollar coffee pots, who can resist the one-for-you, one-for-me mantra? Practical consumers are increasingly embracing the idea of “self-gifting” at the holidays, buying items for themselves at discounts typically not seen throughout the rest of the year. And these self-centric Santas were certainly out en masse last weekend: eight out of ten Black Friday Weekend shoppers reported that they had taken advantage of retailers’ online and in-store promotions to buy non-gift items. This figure rose to 86% among 18 to 34 year olds, while those 35 to 54 (81%) and 55+ (72%) showed more restraint [well, kind of].
18-34 Year Olds Found Deals via Friendlier Outlets. There’s something that screams “tradition” to a Black Friday bargain hunter when that 20 pound newspaper – chock full of those delicious retailer ads – lands on the front porch on Thanksgiving morning…am I right? Surprising as it may seem in the digital age, the majority of consumers (50%) looked to advertising circulars as their source for Black Friday Weekend sales, discounts, and promotions this year, followed by retailer emails (36%), online searches (30%), retailers’ websites (23%), and TV advertising (also 23%).
Talk to an 18 to 34 year old, though, and you’ll get a different picture. While these youngsters still gobbled up the deals via ad circulars (39%), they were nearly twice as likely to find a friendly discount via Facebook (31%) compared to the general Black Friday Weekend shopping population (16%). Additionally, 18 to 34 year olds were more likely to learn about promotions directly from family and friends (30%), eclipsing those who sought out TV advertising (26%).
* “Black Friday Weekend” is defined as Thursday (Thanksgiving), Friday (Black Friday), Saturday, and Sunday.
For more insights on the holiday season, visit the NRF’s Holiday Headquarters.
While several major retailers, including Walmart, Kmart, and Toys R Us, have lowered or eliminated their layaway fees in efforts to spur holiday shopping, new insights from the BIGinsight™ November survey of more than 9,000 consumers reveal that this tactic doesn’t seem to be leading to a rise in this place-it-on-hold-and-pay-over-time purchase behavior. Just over one in ten holiday shoppers (12.3%) indicates they are using or planning to use layaway when shopping for gifts this season, relatively unchanged from one year ago (12.7%).
With a flatlining number of consumers boarding the layaway train for 2012, it appears that this Great Depression-era policy is more bygone gimmick rather than a modern day marvel. However, further analysis of layaway users uncovers a specific type of holiday shopper. So without further ado, let’s take a look at ten characteristics that help identify this special group of consumers.
Ten Characteristics of Layaway Shoppers
1. Layaway shoppers wouldn’t place in a Santa look-a-like contest. Nearly 75% more likely to have children in the household compared to average holiday shoppers, while layaway users might be more prone to play Santa this year for the kiddos, they just won’t look like the jolly old guy. Six years younger on average than typical holiday shoppers, layaway-ers are also far less likely to refer to themselves as “retired.”
2. Despite tighter budgets, layaway-ers intend to spend more this holiday season. As might be expected, those utilizing the budget-friendly aspects of layaway tend to earn less (about $49,000 per year) than holiday shoppers in general ($56,000/year). Despite this, though, two out of five (41.6%) layaway shoppers intend to spend “more” on the holiday season this year than they did back in 2011. Just 21.0% of shoppers in general are working within expanded holiday budgets this year.*
3. Layaway shoppers have a holly jolly outlook for the economy… Consumers reported that they were feeling better about the economy in November, but the sentiment among layaway users is downright giddy: 54.7% say they are very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy, much higher than typical holiday shoppers (40.4%). The issue of employment, though, is another story. About a third (32.7%) of layaway shoppers fears an increasing in the number of layoffs over the next six months, higher than holiday shoppers in general (22.0%). Layaway-ers are also slightly more concerned about becoming laid off themselves.
4. …Yet remain conservative with their everyday finances. Lower average incomes and greater concerns for layoffs are likely playing into layaway shoppers’ penchant for scrimping and saving in their everyday lives. Compared to holiday shoppers in general, more layaway-ers are making plans to pay down debt (38.6%), decrease overall spending (35.4%), and increase their savings (32.5%) over the next three months. Additionally, a higher proportion (28.6%) is attempting to pay with cash more often, which brings us to point #5…
5. Cold hard cash is key with layaway shoppers. For holiday purchases specifically, while debit cards are the preferred method of payment among layaway shoppers (49.9% plan to use them most often), more than a third of (35.5%) still plans to utilize cash most often, 40% higher than holiday shoppers in general (25.2%). Layaway shoppers are 60% less likely to use credit cards most often for holiday purchases than typical holiday shoppers.*
6. These early birds are getting the worms… Arguably one of the brightest benefits of using layaways services is the ability to place a hold on hot holiday merchandise before it flies off the shelves. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that – as of early November – seven out of 10 layaway users (69.1%) had begun their holiday shopping as opposed to just 52.8% of holiday shoppers in general.*
7. …But still plan to bargain-hunt with the best of ‘em on Black Friday. And speaking of early bird tendencies, layaway shoppers are quite the night owls too: the majority (56.3%) is planning to shop Black Friday weekend, making them 75% more likely to brave the crowds than typical holiday shoppers (31.5%).*
8. Layaway shoppers use their connections to find best deals. While traditional advertising circulars are their top source for keeping track of holiday sales and promotions, layaway shoppers are more likely to connect on Facebook or Twitter, use retailer apps, and refer to coupon websites (i.e. RetailMeNot.com, FatWallet.com) compared to holiday shoppers in general.*
9. While they embrace their inner fashionistas, it’s electronics and toys that are bound for the layaway bins. While layaway shoppers are more likely to lean to familiar fashion labels and the newest trends/styles versus holiday shoppers in general, apparel is less likely to be put on hold compared to electronics and toys.
10. Discounters are most likely to get those layaway dollars. When it comes to the retailers shoppers are utilizing for layaway services, discounters score a definitive win here. Nearly two-thirds (65.5%) of holiday shoppers planning to use layaway this season will head to Walmart, while 42.2% say they will sign up with Kmart. Fewer will make use of the programs at Toys R Us (21.2%), Sears (15.2%), Burlington Coat Factory (12.4%), Marshall’s (12.1%), or TJ Maxx (9.9%).
* Source: National Retail Federation/BIGinsight™. For more insights on the holiday season, visit the NRF’s Holiday Headquarters.