The 2014 holiday season was a historic one for retailers! Now, with October gone we’re at the beginning of the two busiest months in retail. The “Holiday Season” is defined by The National Retail Federation as November and December, however as a result of “Promotion Creep” consumers and retailers began preparing for the holiday soon after back-to-school, with 40% of shoppers reporting that they had begun their holiday shopping before Halloween. Crazy right? Not so much, considering the holidays typically account for 30% of a retailer’s annual sales.
The National Retail Federation released their findings for the holiday season, and according to their consumer surveys, digital retailers are in-store for a holly jolly season! While their overall outlook for retailers remains positive, it’s those that operate in the digital realm that will benefit the most from the busiest shopping season of the year, with most consumers in America heading online to do their shopping. Here’s our summary of the NRF’s latest holiday reports so you can learn about what to expect and ready your business:
A Healthy Growth in Holiday Sales
Although its estimated that overall holiday sales will increase 3.7% this year, which is slight below last year’s 4.1% growth. This slowed growth is really due to the fact that economic indicators have only improved in some areas, so American consumers are forced to be more prudent in their spending for the holidays. However, this growth is still considered healthy, with more people shopping online than ever before.
Nearly 46.1% of holiday shopping will be done online
The NRF estimates that online holiday sales this season are expected to top $105 billion, with online to increase between 6-8%. Last year consumers spent on average $800 during the holidays on gifts for their loved ones, and are set to do the same again.
Know What’s Important to Online Shoppers
Obviously discounts are important to shoppers, with nearly three-quarters of survey respondents indicating that that discounts will influence where they choose to shop. Following discounts, quality of merchandise, selection of merchandise, and convenience all help consumers decide where to shop.
Shipping offers are now just as important to shoppers are in-store deals are. Consumers have the expectation in mind that that shipping should be free, with 86% of holiday shippers responding that free shipping is important to them. According to Shop.org , of the retailers surveyed, 92% offer a form of standard free shipping during the holiday season. It’s important to note that you should also be guaranteeing your free shipping by Christmas, so customer know that their gifts will arrive on-time. Millennial shoppers look for a sense of instant gratification online, and are more likely to shell out more for a free-shipping option.
Black Friday Still a Boom?
Two of the biggest shopping days of the year are quickly approaching! Last year 87 million people shopped on Black Friday. Consistently over the last 3 years Black Friday has been the most shopped day of the American Thanksgiving weekend. We’re slowly seeing an evolutions in this though, with retailers offering discounts much earlier online and in store consumers aren’t waiting for this special shopping day anymore to make important purchasing decisions.
One for You, One for me
Think the holiday season is all about giving to your loved one? Think again. It’s predicted that holiday shoppers will leverage the seasonal discounts to buy for themselves. NRF’s survey reports that 55.8% of shoppers will splurge on themselves while holiday shopping. This shopping will be seen in an increase of average spending of $131.59 this year, up from $126.37.
Higher levels of mobile engagement is expected this holiday season withe 21.4% of smartphone users making a purchase on their devices. This percentage is the highest that the NRF has seen since first asking the question of shoppers in 2011. Even more savvy smartphone users (37.9%) will be using their devices to research products, while 28.4% will be using their phones to look up retailer contact information. One in five shoppers will use their mobile devices to look up product availability while in store.
Are you Ready?
Reports like these are important to all retailers, because they can help you know what to expect so you can fully prepare for the busiest shopping season of the year. For the 2015 holidays keep in mind these important take aways from the NRF’s report:
- Almost half of American consumers will be shopping online
- Online holiday sales this season are expected to top $105 billion
- Consumers expect free shipping offers
- Black Friday has been the most shopped day of the American Thanksgiving weekend for the last 3 years
- 55.8% of shoppers will splurge on themselves while holiday shopping, increasing average order value
- 21.4% of smartphone users will be making a purchase on their devices