As the dust settles on the opening salvo to the holiday shopping season, data from several sources reveal a shopper hungry for bargains, but who is also looking to make more gift purchases — and give to charities — than in prior years.
For the week ended Nov. 26, The Retail Economist-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index inched up 0.5 percent. On a year-over-year basis, the index increased 1.5 percent. Michael Niemira, chief economist of The Retail Economist LLC, said results showed that “bargain hunting was in full bloom this past week as consumers shopped across sales channels and over sales days to find the best deals.
“By store segment, wholesale clubs were the best performers over the past week,” he added. “As the holiday season continues to unfold, consumers will focus on more gift buying than bargain purchases.”
According the ABX Holiday Share of Wallet Survey, gifting is clearly on the minds of consumers. In the first of a series of consumer surveys conducted throughout the holiday shopping season, ABX said respondents plan on spending $695 on holiday gifts this year, which compares to $592 last year — a year-over-year gain of 17 percent.
When it comes to where they plan to shop, 22 percent cited Amazon while Wal-Mart Stores Inc. came in second with 20 percent. In last year’s survey, Amazon had 21 percent share versus Wal-Mart’s 19 percent. ABX president Gary Getto said the survey reflects consumers’ attitudes toward retail brands, which “have been formed by advertising, personal experience, news, social media and word of mouth.”
For its part, Amazon and Wal-Mart have both scored well on ABX’s advertising effectiveness index over the past few months. And both retailers have leverage digital advertising. In a separate report from marketing platform provider AdRoll, the firm said online advertisers doled out 17.9 percent more on Black Friday compared to last year and nearly 14 percent more on Thanksgiving.
AdRoll said click-through rates showed a 0.11 percent year-over-year gain on Black Friday, and a 0.1 percent rise on Thanksgiving. On Facebook, ad spending rose 10.7 percent year over year on Black Friday and showed a 13 percent gain on Thanksgiving. AdRoll said spending on web prospecting and web retargeting products was also up.
These investments seemed to pay off. Web tech firm Fastly said data from the weekend through to Cyber Monday revealed that early deals online fueled traffic. “Data showed a sustained increase in e-commerce traffic over the four days leading up to Thanksgiving, likely due to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales arriving even earlier this year,” Fastly researchers said in their report. “Thanksgiving evening at 9 p.m. ET saw a 62 percent increase in traffic as people went online to take advantage of doorbuster sales after dinner.”
The firm also found that traffic to donation and nonprofit sites increased significantly. “In fact, traffic to donation-nonprofit sites spiked 142 percent above normal on the traditionally altruistic day of Thanksgiving, following holiday dinner (1 a.m. ET).”