Fewer Americans plan to hit stores over Black Friday weekend

Consumer Reports News: November 18, 2010 06:08 AM

Fewer Americans plan to brave the hordes of shoppers this Black Friday weekend, according to the latest Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll. But online shopping is expected to stay strong and a surprising number of Americans plan to make purchases using their cell phones. 

Black Friday deals may not be as enticing this season. This year 44 percent of Americans plan on hitting the mall or shop online over the Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday. Although that's still a lot of shoppers, that number is down seven percentage points from last year.  

Consumer Reports found that a quarter (24% ) of shoppers plan to fight the crowds on Black Friday itself and that same number plan to shop in-store on that following Saturday or Sunday.  And while the number of in-store shoppers may be on the decline, American’s intent to shop online has remained steady over the past few years.  Whether they are shopping online or in-stores, half of consumers are confident that the deals will be equally as good in both. (See our advice for when to shop online vs. in-store and some general tips on saving money this holiday season).

“Consumers may not want to deal with the hassles that come along with shopping on Black Friday,” said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert.  “Retailers are desperate for sales and consumers are likely to see deep discounts extend into December.”

Online & Mobile Shopping

Consumer Reports has found that the number of people who shop online for holiday gifts has increased steadily over the past few years.  This year online shopping is expected to surpass in-store shopping on the Monday following Thanksgiving, also known as Cyber Monday.  Seventeen percent of American plan to shop online that day; 13 percent say they will hit the stores.

Americans will use their cell phones in a variety of ways this holiday season.  Some will use it to entertain themselves while waiting in line or for friends and family who are shopping and others will use it to compare prices or look for coupons.  Twelve percent said they will plan to purchase gifts or holiday items with their cell phone. 

The Shopping List

On Black Friday and the weekend following, consumers plan to shop mostly for electronics (75%) and clothing (72%).  Within electronics, video games (42%) will likely by the most popular item by far. Shoppers may also scoop up toys (56%) and gift cards (50%).  While most of these purchases will be bestowed as gifts, people plan to self-indulge on food or wine, laptops and TVs.

Done Shopping

As of early November, only four percent of Americans said that they had finished their holiday shopping, while most (62%) had not even begun.  While just of over half (54%) of women reported that they had not started shopping, a whopping 71 percent of men said the same.

Poll Methodology: The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households.  Another 1,015 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+ between November 4 – 7, 2010.  The margin of error is +/- 3% points at a 95% confidence level.


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