Consumers are letting retailers know they want—and plan to wait for—big bargains.
The number of shoppers willing to hold out until the last minute this holiday season to get sales of 50% off has jumped to 81.6%, compared to 66.2% in both 2005 and in 2004 and 62.2% in 2002, according to the recent Christmas shopping survey conducted by America’s Research Group (ARG).
This marks the biggest bargain hunter ARG has seen in 20 years of consumer research on Christmas sales, said C. Britt Beemer, founder and CEO of ARG, in a statement.
“I’ve never seen such bargain-driven shoppers,” he said.
Topping the list of stores visited over this past weekend was Wal-Mart, with 43.1% of shoppers visiting the retailers. However, JCPenney had the best gains over last year to 28.1% in 2006 from only 16.6% in 2005.
Gift cards are a hot item. Some 42.1% of consumers have already purchased cards with another 20% planning to before Christmas. In 2005, only 24.8% had bought gift cards by this time, with 17.5% expecting to buy them before Christmas, the study found.
As for online shopping, Beemer called “Cyber Monday” a hoax.
Some 18.5% of consumers went on-line Nov. 27, compared to 17.8% last year. Only 14.8% of consumers reported booting up to find a better price after shopping at stores, compared with 22.4% last year.
ARG expects the big shopping push to start after Dec. 15, as 37.7% of consumers don’t expect to finish their shopping until Dec. 20 and another 32.9% don’t expect to be done until Dec. 24.
In addition to more bargains, consumers want better Christmas decorations. More than 40% said that stores are not decorated as much today as in years past, up from 23.8% last year.
ARG interviewed 800 adults between Dec. 2-3, 2006.
Based on data from ARG’s first Christmas shopping survey last month, sales should increase 3.1% this year.