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Holiday 2012: More Spending, Spirit and Screens

Sabrina Tharani |

Early November has started to demonstrate a new kind of frenzy for U.S. consumers – and lucky for those of us on the east coast, it’s not one that falls from the sky. The holiday season is here again, with U.S. consumers armed for gift-giving with greater spending intentions, spirit and screens.

So far, the numbers are telling an optimistic story: 21 percent of consumers will spend more than they did last year, averaging $900 up from $854 in 2011, and consumer confidence is at a four-year high as of November 2012. Some projections predict holiday sales to increase by over 4 percent to $586 billion, 12 percent of which will come from online transactions.

But this seemingly better economic situation isn’t the only unique variable this year. Consumer’s path-to-purchase has become more sophisticated than ever before. The proliferation of mobile and tablet technology for shopping has blurred the line between in-store and online, particularly for browsing goods and services. Fifty-one percent of American consumers will research online and visit a store to make purchases, while 44 percent will both research and purchase online, according to a recent study by Google.

Source: Insights from Google, Infographic by Carlos Monteiro, November 2012

Consumers aren’t just shopping online either – in fact, one in four are searching the Internet for gift inspiration and holiday experiences available when traveling to visit family and friends. They actively compare prices between merchants (56 percent) and read and write product reviews (46 percent) online.

This enthusiasm to exchange product information takes consumer’s appetite for creating content and shapes the relationship they build with brands. Multi-screen use galvanizes this new shopping behavior (85 percent will shop for a gift on one device and then make a purchase on another), which helps enable smarter decisions with more choice.

Merchants must understand consumers’ evolved shopping routine and connect with them in all touch points between browsing and point of sale in order to succeed this holiday season. Mobile phone apps, interactive websites and robust social media outlets are all gateways to formulate active communication between brands and shoppers – a conversation more important this year than ever before (proof lies in the recent Presidential election, which commanded more than 10 million tweets during the first debate alone). Higher anticipated spending, coupled with greater use of mobile and tablet technology should positively drive 2012 holiday sales – the only hard part now is deciding between buying “Homeland” or “Mad Men” DVD sets!

Topics: Economic Outlook

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