WASHINGTON—The average consumer will shell out $704.18 on gifts and seasonal merchandise during the coming holidays, down 2.1 percent from last year’s average, according to the 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey from the National Retail Federation.
Conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, the survey also found that the U.S. economy will affect the holiday shopping plans of 62.2 percent of consumers. Sales and discounts will be the determining factor in purchases for 41.6 percent of shoppers, but customer service and quality of merchandise are growing as the key factors in a holiday purchase. Nearly half (46.7 percent) of consumers say they will buy their holiday merchandise online, up from 43.9 percent last year.
In addition, smart phones and tablet computers will play a bigger role in holiday buying. More than half of consumers (52.6 percent) who own a smart phone will use their device to research, products, redeem coupons, use applications to help in their purchases and purchase holiday gifts and items. More than 70 percent (70.5 percent) of tablet owners will use their devices to research and shop.
NRF is still forecasting a 2.8 percent rise in total retail sales during the holidays, to $465.5 billion.
“Knowing their customers are more focused than ever on value, retailers will entice shoppers with promotions that go beyond discounts, whether they’re promoting free gifts with purchase, an extended warranty or stellar customer service,” said Matt Shay, the association’s president and CEO.