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Holiday Shoppers Not Ready to Splurge, Report Finds

Posted: Oct. 16, 2013, 5:30 p.m. EDT

Pet retailers looking to cash in this holiday season had better upgrade their marketing and sales strategies.

The National Retail Federation reported today that the average holiday shopper will spend 2 percent less on gifts, décor and other items in November and December. The projection is for total average spending of $737.95, down from $752.24 in 2012.

The news isn’t all bad, however. Overall holiday receipts are expected to total $602.1 billion, up 3.9 percent, based on U.S. Commerce Department data.

"Though the foundation for solid holiday season growth exists, Americans are questioning the stability of our economy, our government and their own finances,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation. "We expect consumers to set a modest budget for gifts and other holiday-related purchases as they wait and see what will become of the U.S. economy in the coming months.”

46.5 percent of holiday shoppers get started in September or October to avoid the crowds, the National Retail Federation found.
The consumer report, rooted in an October survey of 6,415 Americans, placed spending on pets in the category of "other gifts.” Besides animals, recipients of such gifts include community members and service providers such as babysitters and postal workers.

Average spending in the category is expected to be $25.63, though the total rises to $61.09 when only shoppers who will buy for "others” are counted.

When purchases of decorations, greeting cards, food and flowers are excluded, the average spending on gifts alone is expected to be $536.85.

"Consumers have had years of practice when it comes to managing tight budgets while still spending on items they need to, whether it be gifts or groceries for the family,” said Pam Goodfellow of Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted the survey. "Retailers can expect to see practical and refined attitudes from their customers this holiday season as families make thoughtful decisions about what they need to buy and what they can pass on.”    

The annual report included other findings:

• The government shutdown, which appeared close to ending this week, worried consumers. Nearly 30 percent of respondents said the situation would "somewhat” or "very likely” affect their spending plans.

• Shoppers caught up in the holiday spirit plan to buy fewer items for themselves. Fifty-seven percent said they would "self-gift,” especially when deals are too good to pass up, down from 59 percent last year.

• Forty-one percent of Americans will begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. Sixteen percent will start during the first half of December, and nearly 4 percent will wait until the final two weeks.

• Just over half of all holiday shoppers will spend some cash online. About $82 billion is expected to be spent over the Internet, up about 13 percent from 2012 figures.

• More than 56 percent of holiday shoppers own a smartphone. Nearly 54 percent of those owners will use the device to look up store hours, compare prices or purchase products.

• 35.6 percent said the most important factor in deciding where to shop are sales and discounts. Next in importance is merchandise selection, followed by merchandise quality.


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