By  on October 20, 2010

The NPD Group Inc. went looking for the hot channel for holiday shopping and couldn’t find one.

According to a survey by the Port Washington, N.Y.-based research organization, the percentage of respondents who plan to shop various tiers of distribution for their holiday purchases fell for all of the top 10 distribution channels studied. Discount stores retained the top spot from a year ago but were down to 54 percent of shoppers from 58 percent, and online shopping remained at number 2 with a decline to 35 percent from 37 percent last year.

National chains stayed at number 3 as they dropped to 29 percent from 32 percent, and department stores moved up to number 4 from number 5 but still registered a decline in percentage of shoppers, to 22 percent from 25 percent.

Warehouse clubs dropped to number 7, at 17 percent, from number 6, at 21 percent, last year. Electronics stores fell from number 4 last year, with 26 percent, to number 6, at 19 percent.

Some of the declines might be attributed to consumers doing more Web browsing before they shop. “Fifty-four percent of consumers told NPD they plan to look around for the best price and value before they buy, which could benefit online sales,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst.

Outlet stores were eighth on the NPD list with 16 percent of respondents planning to shop there, down from 20 percent in 2009. Apparel specialty stores retained their ninth-place finish, but were likely to attract 15 percent of shoppers, down from 18 percent.

In 10th place were off-price retailers, at 13 percent. They failed to qualify for the top 10 last year and displaced catalogues and mail-order shopping for the last spot.

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed identified “convenient location” as one of the factors that influenced where they shop, behind only overall value for price (60 percent) and special sale price (58 percent).

“Last year consumers wanted to spend as little as possible on gifts,” said Cohen. “This year, they are being more selective about where they spend.”

Based on data collected by BIGresearch, the National Retail Federation projected that U.S. consumers will spend $688.87 on holiday-related shopping this year, up 1 percent from the $681.83 spent last year. NRF also reported that spending on gifts would rise 2.1 percent, to $518.08, consistent with NRF’s earlier forecast for holiday sales increases.

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