It’s here already! With Columbus Day (or Indigenous Peoples Day if you prefer) done, the holiday shopping season is here. Shoppers are preparing for the holiday season earlier and earlier every year and your challenge is not to get lost in the shuffle. It seems it was just a few days ago we were all sitting around the pool and enjoying summer and now, guess what? Halloween is just two weeks away and it’s almost November and the official shopping countdown has begun!
If you haven’t given it any thought already, it’s good to think about it right now so you can officially kick your holiday plans into high gear. That’s because more consumers are expected to start their holiday shopping earlier this season, even moreso than in years’ past.
Planned Spending is Heading Up
This year, consumers are forecast to spend around 5% more than last year, and each buyer is on track to shell out an average of $862 (up from an average of $819 in 2018), so you better have already socked some money away for it. These numbers are projected based on a survey conducted in August among 2,000 American adults, who plan to shop during this year’s holiday season.
If you are a smart shopper, you can still get all the things you really want and need for you and yours. You just need to be prepared and know what’s coming and how to get it! Being a good shopper is not only a money saver, but it’s actually fun even if it is a challenge. And, let’s face it: it’s also a requirement these days to save as much as possible since money is tough to come by and even tougher to hang on to!
Here’s the Information You Need for the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season
Here’s some guidance on how to get the shopping success you want this holiday season.
1. Online stores are looking better and better for the sharpest values
The shift to e-commerce has been happening for years and years, growing since 2005 and finally, according to the latest reports, online purchases are expected to outpace offline traditional retail buys. That may come as a shock to older folks like me; after all I spent 30+ years working and managing retail stores in shopping centers and malls all over New Jersey and now those “glory days” seem to be finally disappearing.
Consumers say they plan to spend 52% of their budget online, as opposed to shopping in physical retail stores. That’s up from 49% during last year’s holiday shopping season.
There’s one primary reason shoppers of all ages visit physical stores instead of shopping online. They want to get their hands on the specific products they want quickly. This is especially important for Traditional Consumers aged 38 and older, nearly two-thirds (63%) of whom still choose a store based on the associates’ ability to order out-of-stock products for them.
2. You have got to be mobile
Shopkick reports that Generation Z is the demographic that’s most likely to use mobile phones in-store (as well as the generation most likely to shop in-store rather than online). However, Millennials are more likely than other generations to actually shop on their mobile phones and about one-third will actually do so this holiday shopping season.
But the facts are that everyone shops online these days, from Millennials to Baby Boomers. That’s why the majority of their dollars are being spent online with mobile shopping becoming a major factor! Sellers recognize the increased importance of having mobile-friendly product pages and mobile friendly digital ads because consumers overwhelmingly want personalized (but still private) advertising that you get at your fingertips. Mobile apps and mobile ads are now a mainstream shopping experience!
3. Free shipping is here to stay
I don’t know about you, but I have figured out something really key about the online shopping craze. It’s free (my favorite word) shipping and it’s something that online sellers absolutely know is the tipping point when it comes to getting you to seal the deal!
Look for the special promotions, the waiving (or dramatically reducing) of shipping fees which online and even regular traditional retail stores will use to help significantly boost their sales this year. More than 60% of surveyed respondents like you and me said shipping costs influence whether they’ll complete a purchase online or not. So guess what…the sellers are listening!
4. Pay attention to *all* of the advertising
This year in 2019, the really smart money for retailers’ marketing efforts is on streaming. But here’s their problem. Streaming is only about 5% of all the advertising that they will spend. Most of the ad dollars are still spent in traditional ways like network TV ads and that’s despite the fact that 42% of holiday shoppers say they’ve cut the cord or plan to this year when it comes to TV viewing. That’s up again because last year just 37% of shoppers had parted ways with cable or were planning to, so you can see that this trend continues to grow.
Think about those numbers and let that sink in for a second. With almost all of the TV dollars going towards cable TV today and only 5% going to internet-accessible and streaming, that means that the biggest of all of the target audience is watching almost zero of those ads. That’s why sellers will learn quickly and see that the viewing changes mean using more and more of those spots on the internet and streaming platforms, so keep your eyes open! It’s the new “orange is the new black” thingy. Maybe that’s not the right metaphor, but you get my drift!
The bottom line is that it’s a much smarter bet advertising on streaming services like Hulu or on Roku for example and sponsoring podcasts instead of on traditional TV. More and more shoppers listen to an awful lot of audio and more than half listen to podcasts every single week and hear these ads.
5. Use your smartphone
Some retailers are even catering to smartphone users in-store. They offer free Wi-Fi on a separate guest network and set up a loyalty program that has a mobile app for them to use. They have learned that the more you can engage customers with your business on their phones (not just with online searching), the better they do. What’s more, digital loyalty programs that alert shoppers to offers when they’re in-store or encourage additional purchases can help drive sales. This is especially appealing to the 65% of Digital Consumers who like getting personalized communications and recommendations from retailers.
Bottom Line Conclusion
Of course, consumers really care about saving money. Finding deals will always be a key driver of shopping behaviors. A Shopkick study found 42% of shoppers say low prices are the number one most important factor when making a purchase. There are some differences reported by BRP Consulting who says that consumers aged 38 and up (what it defines as a “Traditional Consumers”) are more price-driven than Digital Consumers (those aged 18 to 37). Traditional Consumers are more likely to look online for discounts and coupons and compare prices than their younger counterparts.
Now is the best time to put your plan together and make your shopping list and check it twice (or more). While you never quite know the rock bottom price on things until the dust clears and the season is over, you can make some educated guesses if you do your homework when you shop.
A couple of points to always remember. First, think about what you shop for. Is it a need or a want? Wants probably will cost you more and make you more likely to hit the impulse button. That’s usually not such a good deal for you and the sellers know that.
And second, save all of your receipts so you can either return an item or get a price adjustment if the price drops within the timeframe that is allowed. That leads us to a very important part of shopping, especially during the holiday season, and that is to know store policy when it comes to returns and adjustments. The regular policy may not apply during the holidays, so it pays to ask questions before you buy, and read all the fine print!
Are you ready for this holiday shopping season? Have you made your budget and list and checked it twice or more? What tips do you have to help others to save? Is saving money as important to you as it is to me?