While the majority of consumers plan to keep their holiday spending at the same level as a year ago, a higher percentage plan to spend more this year (15 percent) compared with last year (12 percent), according to The NPD Group’s 2015 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey.
Simultaneously, 16 percent plan to spend less this year, compared with 20 percent in 2014. This indicates that the gap is narrowing between those who plan on spending less and those who plan on spending more — the closest these two groups have been in three years.
At the same time, the mean spend for holiday shopping, based on consumer intentions at the time of the survey, is $619, a 5 percent increase compared with what consumers said they planned on spending at the same time in 2014.
Assuming they will be spending less on gasoline than they did a year ago, more than half of the consumers surveyed said they plan to save the additional money or spend it on themselves or others, as opposed to putting it toward paying their bills and other expenses. Among those who plan to spend those freed-up funds, one-third said they will use it toward necessities for their home; one-third will put it toward travel plans; 22 percent will spend it on gifts for friends, and 21 percent will buy something for themselves.
NPD conducted an online survey of 3,620 individuals aged 18 and older in September 2015.
NPD also found that consumers have a more positive outlook going into this holiday season. Both women and men agreed with positive statements around giving to those less fortunate, shopping for the holidays and general holiday anticipation, while fewer survey respondents agreed with negative statements.
“Consumers are ready to spend for the holidays, more so than in recent years,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group. “However, manufacturers and retailers need to pay close attention to what is driving the consumer mind-set, and deliver product that anticipates inevitable shifts in their thinking over the course of the season. Positive consumer perceptions combined with holiday promotions could drive early impulse purchases, but the market has to deliver enticing product that consumers want and need in order to build on that momentum and keep them spending.”
Further, almost two-thirds of consumers said they will do research before making a purchase. Online research and consumer reviews both continue to grow in importance when it come to the resources consumers will seek out during the holidays. Consumers want quick, easy-to-access information, and real-life input on products from the people using them, not the people selling them, the survey found.
“Just as the consumer mind-set is one component to holiday success, the holiday season is one leg of the larger retail marathon — it’s not the finish line,” said Cohen. “Consumers are more complex and marketers have more opportunities to reach them than ever before. Truly connecting with consumers requires interaction and omnipresence, emphasizing a complete experience that extends beyond channels, beyond traditional methods and beyond the holiday season.”