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Holiday shopping may drive freight demand

Nov. 1, 2017
Survey says consumers plan to spend 3.4% more this holiday season compared to last year.

By American Trucker Staff

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this year, according to the annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation (NRF).

That’s up 3.4% from the $935.58 consumers said they would spend when surveyed at the same time last year, noted Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and CEO.

“With employment and incomes increasing, consumers are more confident this year and that is reflected in their buying plans for the holidays,” he said in a statement. “Retailers have been stocking up in expectation of this, and all signs are that this will be a busy holiday season. Retailers are preparing for a rush of consumers leading into Thanksgiving and all through December.”

This survey – which polled 7,349 consumers back in early October –comes on top of NRF’s annual holiday spending forecast, which takes into account a variety of economic factors and projects that holiday retail sales in November and December this year will be up between 3.6% and 4% for a total between $678.8 billion and $682 billion.

In addition, imports set an all-time record high late this summer as retailers brought in an unprecedented amount of merchandise in anticipation of a strong holiday season, and are continuing at unusually high numbers this fall, according to NRF’s monthly Global Port Tracker report.

The survey found that only 27% of consumers say their spending will be impacted by concerns about the nation’s economy, down from 32% during 2016’s election-year jitters and the lowest level since NRF began asking the question during the Great Recession in 2009.

Interestingly, for the first time in the history of this particular NRF survey, online shopping is the most popular “destination” this year, cited by 59% of consumers. The survey also found that 57% will shop at a department store, 54% at a discount store, 46% at a grocery store/supermarket and 35% at clothing or accessories store.

Most online shoppers will take advantage of free shipping (94%) and conveniences like buy online, pick up in store (49%). In addition, 19% said they plan to take advantage of expedited shipping and 12% will use same-day delivery.

Most consumers (59%) are waiting until at least November to begin holiday shopping.

“While many consumers are holding off until November or later to start their holiday shopping, retailers should be prepared for high traffic online and in stores come Thanksgiving weekend as customers start tackling their lists,” Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst with Prosper Insights Principal, explained.

“Although sales will remain an important factor for most consumers, many will lean on convenient locations and easy-to-use websites or mobile apps along with free shipping to complete their purchases,” she said.

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