Release date 11/20/2008
YONKERS, NY (November 19, 2008) – Despite the expected cutbacks in holiday spending, more shoppers will hit the malls this Black Friday than last, according to Consumer Reports' latest holiday shopping poll. More than a quarter (26%) of consumers plan to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving—up 5 percentage points from the 21 percent that shopped on Black Friday in 2007.
Store owners and merchants may find comfort in the fact that consumers say they still have a lot of shopping to do. Consumer Reports' holiday poll, conducted in late October and early November, found that only about 3 percent of consumers have completed their holiday shopping and only 38 percent have started—compared with 43 percent who had begun this time two years ago.
Black Friday is known for crowds, lines and blockbuster sales, but bargain hunting with the masses may appeal more to younger shoppers— the biggest percentage of shoppers who plan to head out to stores on Black Friday are between the ages of 18 and 34.
While an earlier Consumer Reports poll indicated that consumers on average were less likely to give electronics as a gift this year, many may be looking for Black Friday bargains. Some 85 percent of shoppers plan on buying electronics on Black Friday, up more than 15 percentage points from last season. Within the electronics category video-game systems (46%) and iPods or other MP3 players (43%) top the list.
“Black Friday is the quintessential American shopping day,” said Tod Marks, senior project editor, Consumer Reports' Tightwad Tod Blog. “And no matter how dismal the economy, you can count on the stores being filled to capacity. The big question this year, however, is how much are consumers going to cut back. Retailers are holding their collective breath and keeping their fingers crossed.”
Holiday Gifts: Women’s prerogative or a curse?
Women continue to bear the burden when it comes fulfilling the wish lists in 2008. Forty-five percent of women have already begun their holiday shopping, while men (30%) lag far behind.
Among married couples, 72 percent of the women said they completed three-quarters or more of the household’s holiday shopping last year. In comparison, only 13 percent of men said they were as heavily engaged in gift giving.
Adults will spend on average 11 hours shopping for the holidays, with women leading the charge. Forty-four percent or women plan to spend at least 10 hours shopping, while only 30 percent of men plan to log that much time.
Buying gifts is only half the battle; they still have to get wrapped. Consumers will spend on average two hours fiddling with paper and bows. Not surprising, women put more into the process than men. Just over half (52%) of women plan to spend three hours or more wrapping gifts. Only 22 percent of men expect to invest that much time.
Click Clock: More online shopping time in 2008
Online shopping will continue to play an important role this season. Forty-four percent of adults expect to shop online this year, which is roughly the same as in 2007. However, among consumers who plan to shop online, 20 percent plan to do more and only 8 percent plan to do less than last season.
Convenience (41%) continues to be the primary reason for shopping online, followed by avoiding holiday crowds (15%), and seeking better selection (15%) and better prices (11%).
Only 27 percent of consumers employed full-time admit that they shop online from work, while the majority of online shoppers say they do their online shopping from home. Men are bit more likely to shop while on the job.
Big Ticket Gifts: Consumers scale down on flat-panel TVs
The leading big ticket gift item will once again be flat-panel televisions, nearly one-quarter (23%) of consumers plan to by a flat-panel TV before or after the holidays. About 10 percent of consumers plan to wait until after the holidays to buy a set. The primary reason cited for waiting was not because they expect prices to go down (25%), but because they feel it’s too much money to spend right now (44%).
However, over one-third (35%) of consumers planning to buy a flat-panel TV intend to take advantage of retailers’ low or zero percent financing offers. This option was particular popular among consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 (48%).
While consumers still yearn for larger screens, smaller flat screens are becoming more desirable. Over half (51%) of television shoppers are considering screens under 40 inches. This is up approximately 10 percentage points over last year.
Multi-screen households are on the rise. Of those considering a flat-panel for the holidays, 40 percent already have at least one in their home, including 15 percent who already own two or more.
Price continues to factor into the buying decision. The average amount consumers plan to spend for their new TV sets has fallen over the past three years from $1,600 in 2006 to about $1,100 this season. Last year, Consumer Reports found that nearly one-quarter of consumers (24%) were planning to spend $1,500 or more on their flat-panel sets. This year, only 19 percent plan to spend that much. In the past men expected to spend more, but in 2008, both genders plan to spend the same on average.
Extended Warranties: The pressure is still on
Thirty-five percent of consumers said they would consider buying an extended warranty for home electronics gear or major appliances. This percentage is consistent with Consumer Reports' findings from last season (37%) but marks a decline from two years ago when 42 percent of consumers said they would purchase an extended warranty.
Also, consistent with last year’s findings, younger people are more likely to purchase and extended warrantee than older shoppers. In fact, over half (52%) of shoppers age 18 to 34 said they are likely to opt for the additional warranty. Consumers continue to be solicited by salespeople at the same rate as last year. More than half (58%) of respondents indicated that they feel salespeople try to pressure them to buy an extended warranty when purchasing home electronics or appliances.
The main reasons consumers cited for buying an extended warranty is they have used them in the past (74%) and because they believe them to be inexpensive compared to repair costs (70%). For those said they would not purchase an extended warranty, the leading reasons cited were the beliefs that they are a waste of money (77%) followed by they are too expensive (68%) and that products are very reliable (65%).
Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll Methodology
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a random-digit-dialing telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. In all, 1,003 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviews took place over October 30 to November 2, 2008. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 % points at a confidence level of 95 percent.