Better business ahead?

According to the National Retail Federation’s final consumer holiday spending survey of the season, released Tuesday, consumers have completed 53.5 percent of their holiday shopping, similar to the 52.9 percent seen this time a year ago, despite the intensified holiday sale promoting this year that started as early as right after Halloween and has been sustained right up to the present.

About 10 percent of holiday shoppers — or 22.6 million people — indicated their holiday shopping is done, which is good news to retailers because that means 90 percent will still be shopping.

The survey polled 6,965 consumers and was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics from Dec. 1 to Dec.9. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

The NRF says the number-one reason people are still shopping is that they are trying to figure out what to buy. The second-biggest reason is that people are waiting to shop because they haven’t received enough gift ideas and that they are looking for friends and family to give them more. The third-biggest reason is that people are anticipating better deals as the days near Christmas. In addition, there are a lot of people who simply procrastinate about holiday shopping.

“While we witnessed an early start to the holiday shopping season and an extraordinary Thanksgiving weekend, some of the busiest shopping days of the year are still to come,” said NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay. “We expect retailers will be competitive on price and value options in the final stretch, including extended store hours and in-store events, as well as online deals and free shipping offers. Even an unseasonably warm winter cannot keep last-minute shoppers from putting off their holiday purchases anymore.”

When asked when they believe they will purchase their last gift, one-third said sometime before Dec. 18, although 10.2 percent are planning to wait until Dec. 23.

Changing shopping patterns and dynamics — including a lack of tourism, little interest in outerwear due to the warm weather, and a preference to spend on theater tickets, spas, dining out and other experiences – isn’t making it any easier for retailers. The survey found that 22.2 percent of American shoppers are planning to give an experience-type gift and that 36.5 percent would like to receive one.

With Millennials, more than one-third of those aged 18 to 34 are planning to give a gift of experience, and half say they’d like to receive one. Two in five of those aged 35 to 44 would like to receive an experience gift.

The survey found 50.8 percent have already bought clothing and accessories and 34.5 percent have already bought toys. Additionally, 33.5 percent have bought gift cards and 22.8 percent have bought electronic items.

Two-thirds of holiday shoppers plan to browse and buy after-Christmas sales; 47.2 percent of shoppers said they would shop at a store, and 43.1 percent will shop online that week. Nearly six in 10 Millennials (18-to-24-year-olds) will shop that week, both in stores (59.2 percent) and online (59.3 percent).

Also, 35.4 percent of smartphone owners and 38.2 percent of tablet owners will use their devices to research products and compare prices. Another 19.8 percent of smartphone and 26.4 percent of tablet owners will actually purchase a holiday item with their device.

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