Get ready to celebrate a very happy holiday season — especially for retailers and ecommerce merchants. The 2015 holiday spending forecast is out, and according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), predicted spending levels are the highest they’ve been in the past 14 years.
The average American will spend $805.65 on holiday gifts, food, decorations and other items this year, the NRF reports. More than half of that ($462.95) will be spent on family members. Here’s what else you need to know about the holiday spending forecast — and how to capture your share of the sales.
Online Sales Are Soaring
The NRF’s holiday spending forecast reports that almost half (46 percent) of shopping this year will take place online. What’s more, over two in 10 smartphone owners will buy something for the holidays on their device this year — a new high.
To do: Make sure your website is optimized for mobile use. Whether customers are buying or just browsing on their devices, you want them to be able to access your site quickly and easily.
In addition to buying, consumers are also interacting with retailers online more than ever before. Almost 80 percent of consumers engage with brands/retailers before they ever visit a physical store, according to Deloitte’s holiday spending forecast, reported in MarketingDaily. Online interactions with brands, including those on mobile devices, are projected to influence 64 percent of all spending in brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season.
To do: Incorporate digital advertising and marketing as part of your holiday plan. Reach out to local consumers with pay-per-click ads, and use SEO to boost your chances of turning up in local searches.
What Do Customers Care About?
When shopping online, it seems that shipping, savings and convenience ring customers’ holiday bells:
- Nearly half (46.5 percent) of online shoppers say they plan to buy products online and pick them up in store.
- Younger customers are more likely than older generations to be willing to pay for same-day delivery.
- A whopping 93.1 percent of shoppers purchasing online plan to use free shipping offers.
To do: Offer a wide range of shipping, pickup and delivery options. Even if you can’t afford free shipping all season long, plan for several free shipping special events, or offer this as a perk to loyal customers.
Whether shopping in-store or online, sales and discounts are the top factor motivating consumers, the survey found. Almost three-fourths (73.1 percent) cite this as their top factor in deciding where to shop. In comparison, 60.7 percent cite the quality of merchandise; 58.6 percent cite the selection of merchandise and 45.3 percent cite a convenient location.
To do: Plan your sales and discounts now, as well as how you will market them.
Interestingly, 18-to 24-year-olds are the most likely group to value customer service. More than one-third (38 percent) of them say helpful, knowledgeable customer service is a key factor in deciding where to shop. Just 28.4 percent of other adults said the same.
To do: Prepare your staff to provide standout service by educating them about your products, providing the tools they need to help customers research their options, and training them in any holiday-specific processes.
What Do They Want?
Gift cards have topped the list of most-requested gifts for nine years in a row in the NRF poll. Almost six out of 10 consumers say a gift card is their preferred gift; clothing and clothing accessories came in second with 52 percent of the vote.
To do: If you don’t already do so, offering gift cards as an option is a great way to boost sales, both now and in the future when the cards are redeemed. Consumers generally purchase more than the value of the cards.
If consumers don’t get what they want for the holidays, it may not matter that much, because an increasing number plan to give themselves gifts–dubbed “self-gifting” by the NRF. Almost 56 percent plan to buy non-gift items for themselves, spending an average of $131.59 — an increase from last year.
To do: Develop marketing messages that encourage customers to splurge or treat themselves as a reward for the busy holiday season. Offer buy-one, get-one-free specials.
This year, 40 percent of holiday shoppers plan to start buying before Halloween. About 41 percent start in November, while 18.7 percent wait until December. Early birds say they shop early either to spread out their budgets, to avoid last-minute gift stress or to avoid the crowds.
To do: Get ready—now!
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.