Will the rocky economy hurt online holiday sales?

Faith Merino · September 22, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1f56

Survey finds people plan to spend less, but more people plan to shop online for deals

We might still be dealing with triple digit heat in some parts of the country, but that’s not stopping some organizations from wanting to get a jumpstart on holiday shopping forecasts.  I just received an email from Mint.com reminding me that I only have nine more weeks to save for my holiday shopping.  Way to ruin my Thursday, Mint.  And today, behavioral commerce and real-time marketing company SteelHouse has released a survey showing 82% of people plan to change their shopping habits this year.

The most startling finding: 62% of survey respondents said they plan to spend less money this year.  That doesn’t bode well for the ol’ economy, but this could be a fake-out, like saying “I plan to lose ten pounds by Christmas.”  You say it, and then when faced with Halloween candy and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, you flake out. 

Respondents said they also plan to change their online shopping habits.  Of the 1,000 people surveyed, a full 31% said they won’t buy something without a discount or free shipping.  Additionally, 28% said they plan to spend more time browsing products online over going to the mall.  Another 22% said they plan to cash in their loyalty points to buy gifts this year instead of paying with cash or credit, and 12% said they will use social media to find deals or alert their friends to good deals.

Half of all respondents said they will comparison shop more this year than in previous years.  This has obviously become much easier with mobile devices and apps like Milo and Barcode Hero that actually locate the lowest price on an in-store purchase in your area.  

 “It’s clear that shoppers this holiday season aren’t going to buy unless presented with a compelling offer,” said SteelHouse CEO Mark Douglas, in a statement.

The survey findings are bleak, but they counter recent trends showing higher spending in both online and offline holiday shopping.  Last Cyber Monday saw the highest spending on record, reaching $1.028 billion, marking a 16% increase over 2009 and marking the first time that spending has exceeded $1 billion in a single day.

But the economy isn’t looking so hot these days.  Could high unemployment rates and the flip-flopping stock market send consumers scurrying back to their hideouts to ferret their money away?


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