Consumers are feeling good about the upcoming holiday season. In a new study by PriceGrabber, more than half of consumers say they plan to spend the same amount of money or more this holiday shopping season than they did last year.
But even increased spending doesn’t mean Americans are ending their price-conscious ways. On the contrary, shoppers are looking for bargains with more vigor than ever, and feeling confident in their ability to search out the deals. Two-thirds of consumers surveyed say they expect retailers to offer better prices and discounts this year than last. What will persuade them to buy? Free shipping was cited by 77 percent of respondents, price cuts by 74 percent and coupons by 55 percent.
In fact, customers are already looking for holiday bargains. “Our survey data found that … 59 percent of consumers plan to start shopping even earlier this year to spread out the impact of purchases, compared to 53 percent in 2011,” said Rojeh Avanesian, vice president of marketing and analytics of PriceGrabber. Some 17 percent of consumers started their holiday shopping in September, and 31 percent said they would begin in October this year.
Worried that means it’s already too late to get the business? Don’t be. A follow-up study by PriceGrabber found that while there are those early-birds, more than half of consumers still believe the best holiday deals are found between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Got an ecommerce site? Then you’ve got an edge: When asked where they planned to shop this year, 75 percent of respondents said “online retailers.” By comparison, just 49 percent mentioned department stores, and 41 percent said they’ll shop with local independent retailers.
Even if you don’t have an ecommerce site, you can use local search to give your retail store an edge. A whopping 88 percent of shoppers say they’ll stick to their budgets this year by going online to research products and pricing before they buy their holiday gifts.
Make sure your store is listed on local search directories, on ratings and review sites, and that you use relevant keywords on your website so it comes up in the results when potential customers search for products you sell. You might even want to consider taking out online ads such as pay-per-click or Facebook ads to direct local customers to your store.
Image by Flickr user Steven Depolo (Creative Commons)Google+