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Let the 2011 Holiday Shopping Season Begin

November 21, 2011 By Debra Miller Arbesman
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In case you haven’t noticed the changes taking place in retail stores across the country, I'm here to report that orange is out and red and green are in. That’s right, the holiday season has officially begun. From tinsel to snowflakes, stores are already decked out in their holiday finest hoping to entice shoppers to open their wallets and spread some cheer.

Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target have already shifted their focus to the holiday season. Holiday calendars, gift-buying guides and hot-ticket sale items are prominent on retailers’ websites. In October alone, well before the official start of the holiday season, holiday pages had already seen 150,000 visitors.

According to the Kantar Media Compete Fall 2011 Online Shopper Intelligence Survey, retailers should expect to see holiday sales similar to what they saw last year. Two out of three consumers surveyed said they plan to spend the same, if not more, this year on gifts than they did last year. Specifically, 14 percent planned to spend more, 50 percent said they planned to spend the same and 36 percent said they planned to spend less. This is good news for retailers fearful of the impact of the still shaky economy.

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Overall, consumers plan to spend an average of $515 this year on holiday gifts and decorations. Electronics, apparel and games are the product categories where the most money will be spent. Online retailers should prepare for an uptick in shoppers this year. Consumers reported that they plan to spend 41 percent of their holiday budget this year online, up from 33 percent last year. With most major retailers now offering free shipping options, e-commerce will continue to be a key point of sales during the holidays.

Cross-channel retailers should expect a lot of foot traffic from online shoppers as well. Almost half of the consumers surveyed said they're “very” or “extremely” likely to use ship-to-store for their gifts. Mobile sites will also play an important role for consumers this holiday season, with 25 percent planning to purchase gifts via their mobile device.

As further evidence that e-commerce will be critical this season, Cyber Monday is shaping up to be a more popular shopping day than Black Friday. Almost 40 percent of consumers said they'll wake before dawn and brave the lines to shop on Black Friday, while 50 percent said they'll surf the web for great deals on Cyber Monday. However, Black Friday shoppers plan to outspend Cyber Monday shoppers. The increased spend is likely due to more people shopping for electronics, clothing, and toys and games on Black Friday than on Cyber Monday.


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