Amex Spending Tracker Shows Continued Hope for Holidays

December 18, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | CPG & FMCG | Financial Services | Household Income | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Following November results that signaled hope for this year’s holiday shopping season, the December American Express Spending & Saving Tracker 2009 continues to suggest that things may turn out even better than expected. Results indicate that consumers have not yet completed their holiday shopping and plan to buy items for festivities as well as gifts.

Gift Shopping Left to Do

The monthly study found that 66% of overall consumers still have holiday gift shopping left to do, and 21% plan to holiday shop during Christmas week, with 4% intending to shop on Christmas Eve, reports Retailer Daily.

Of these consumers, 18% are time-strapped, while 31% are holding out for the best deals. One in five (19%) are still saving money for holiday purchases, 11% are waiting for their final 2009 paycheck, and 10% will actually wait for post-holiday sales. Five percent of the general population, and 12% of young professionals, are waiting for an end-of-year holiday bonus to aid their shopping.

In the next 30 days, 32% of consumers will spend more than they did in the last 30 days, and another 33% will spend the same as they did in the last 30 days. A majority of these consumers are spending the same or more due to holiday shopping-related expenses.

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Festivities Lead to Spending

In addition to spending money on gifts, consumers also plan to spend money on parties related to Christmas as well as New Year’s Eve. More than to-thirds (69%)? plan to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, and 90% of them plan to make purchases related to festivities. Affluent consumers plan to spend an average of $750 on items for festivities, such as food and spirits, while young professionals plan to spend an average of $470.

Spending and Saving Tracker More Cheerful than Other Forecasts

The Spending and Saving Tracker is more optimistic in its outlook for the 2009 holiday shopping season than several recent major research studies. Nielsen, Deloitte and Retail Forward have all predicted essentially flat holiday sales, while the National Retail Federation (NRF) has predicted a 1% sales decline. However, the Spending and Saving Tracker is based on more current data, suggesting consumers’ holiday spending outlook has improved in the past month.

Similar research from Discover Financial Services’ annual Holiday Shopping Survey found that shoppers this year plan to spend 13%? less on holiday gifts compared with last year and nearly half of the 43% who plan to spend less overall say the economy has been very influential in their decision to cut back holiday spending.

Despite these mostly mediocre forecasts, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday showed solid increases in customer spending and traffic levels. E-commerce sales and traffic levels were particularly strong on these two major shopping days , and despite predictions of overall flat sales, several major holiday forecasts did call for improved online sales.

E-Commerce Retailers Have Reason to Smile

Last month, the Spending and Saving Tracker showed that the internet will be a popular resource for holiday shoppers this year. Some 79% of overall respondents plan to use the internet as a tool for holiday shopping, 45% plan to purchase items online, 28% will use the internet to buy hard-to-find items, 27% will use the internet for product research, and 25% will go online for gift ideas.

The 2009 Holiday Forecast from comparison shopping site PriceGrabber.com corroborates these findings. PriceGrabber’s research indicates 70% of consumers plan to save money by performing research and comparison shopping online this year, compared to 38% last year. And according to the Deloitte 24th Annual Holiday Survey, 19% of consumers plan to access the internet via their mobile phones while shopping to find store locations, obtain coupons and sales information, as well as research products and prices. This percentage rose to 39% in the 18-29 age group.

About the research: The Amex Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of consumers ages 18 and older. The research sample of 2,005 adults surveyed the general US population, as well as two sub-groups: the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted for credit card company American Express by Echo Research between November 25 and December 1, 2009. Affluent respondents are defined as having a minimum annual household income of $100K. Young professional respondents are those younger than age 30 with a college degree and a minimum annual household income of $50K.

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