With Black Friday coming earlier this year, retailers have embarked on a seasonal approach as more consumers are expected to shop online, compare prices in the aisles, and spend more than last year, according to a recent survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation.
The shift to cyber shopping, cited by 59 percent of consumers, marks the first time in the survey’s history that online is the most popular holiday destination, according to the NRF.
The survey also found that 57 percent will shop at a department store, 54 percent at a discount store, 46 percent at a grocery store/supermarket and 35 percent at clothing or accessories store. The survey found 27 percent plan to visit an electronics store, 25 percent a small or local business, and 18 percent will go to a crafts or fabrics store.
Consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this year, according to the annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s up 3.4 percent from the $935.58 consumers said they would spend when surveyed at the same time last year.
“Consumers are more confident this year and that is reflected in their buying plans for the holidays,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press statement. “Retailers have been stocking up in expectation of this, and all signs are that this will be a busy holiday season. Retailers are preparing for a rush of consumers leading into Thanksgiving and all through December, and are offering a wide array of merchandise and promotions so shoppers can find great gifts and great deals at the same time.”
The consumer survey comes on top of NRF’s annual holiday spending forecast which takes into account a variety of economic factors and projects that holiday retail sales in November and December this year will be up between 3.6 percent and 4 percent for a total between $678.8 billion and $682 billion.
Locally, brick and mortar stores and malls are counting on the power of shared experiences with family and friends, said Katherine Bolas, marketing manager for Westfield Meriden, Milford and Trumbull.
“Shoppers still want to see, touch, interact, be inspired – all these things are part of the holiday shopping experience, and that spirit and excitement is something we don’t get from a phone or computer screen,” Bolas stated in an e-mail. “We have so much going on at Westfield Meriden this season — from special events and charity gift collections plus unique amenities and services that make the whole experience less stressful. We have a tradition of our customers and community coming here to experience and celebrate the holidays.”
Mobile shopping is also expected to increase this season and retailers have developed apps, and payment systems designed to accommodate. Westfield developed its Westfield app for mobile shopping and information and a Santa Fast Pass.
Consumer advocates are advising shoppers to use the apps to check prices and comparison shop at the brick and mortar stores. At Westfield, anchor stores such as Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears and Boscov’s have doorbuster sales to draw crowds in and specials to keep them in the stores. Online and in-store specials are expected to continue throughout the season.
Wal-Mart, Target and other large retailers have similar strategies.
Walmart has announced its plans for Black Friday 2017, and put more than 100 video games on sale starting at $9. Many of the deals started Nov. 9.
Boscov’s, which relies on both print and digital advertising has a 36-page Black Friday circular. Best Buy’s 50-page circular features a Samsung Chromebook for $99, 5- inch Sharp Roku TV for $179, and an Amazon Fire 8 tablet for $49.