Two-thirds of consumers surveyed by Deloitte in mid September said they plan to holiday shop locally at small businesses, independent retailers or boutique shops which are not part of national chains.
More than one-third of their budgets will be spent at local stores, according to the recent survey results. The major reason cited for shopping local this year was a a strong desire to support the economy in their immediate area. More than half — 53% — said they were looking for one-of-a-kind gifts and 44% said shopping locally is more convenient.
Nearly one-third (30%) report having greater loyalty for the local store over national chains.
National retailers continue to battle over who will get the early shoppers, which used to begin in the wee hours of Black Friday. But this year Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart and other retailers have already began with early-bird specials offered online or cash back offers while also promising shoppers Black Friday deals on Wednesday this year.
More and more retailers have said they will be open on Thanksgiving Day, which is muting the impact of Black Friday – known as the biggest shopping day of the year. For several years independent retailer shops have used Small Business Saturday to draw attention to the venues, while the following Monday was billed as Cyber Monday.
Consumers today are shopping all segments when they want, using their mobile phones and tablets to help them find the best deals at their convenience. Smartphone ownership has risen to 61% of consumers, up from 42% just two years ago. Nearly seven out of 10 consumers plan to use their smart phone devices for holiday shopping this year, according to Deloitte.
These consumers will primarily use smartphones to search for store locations (56%), check and compare prices (54%) and obtain product information (47%). Consumers that use smartphones to assist in holiday shopping plan to spend 27% more on holiday gifts than non-smartphone owners, according to the survey.
The survey also found a significant number of consumers expecting to shop using their tablets. Among the 38% of respondents that own tablets, nearly two-thirds (63%) of these owners indicate they plan to use it for holiday shopping this year, with "shop or browse online" ranking as the No. 1 activity.
"Tablets are a two-way street for retailers," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. "They have opened up an entirely new consumer touchpoint, where shoppers can view multiple retailers' products regardless of their location – from their couch to the point of purchase. Retailers can also put tablets to work in their stores, providing both their sales team and customers with a broader lens into merchandise selection. Now that the majority of consumers also own smartphones, these two devices have altered the way they interact with a brand, while also yielding a higher spend per customer."
While online sales in November and December are expected to top $82 billion this year, up 13% from 2012, nearly four in 10 respondents said they still prefer shopping in a physical store rather than online for holiday products.
Service levels continue to influence respondents' willingness to give a retailer their business. More than half (54%) of shoppers said knowledgeable store associates will lead them to making an in-store purchase, and 32% of shoppers feel store associates can provide customers a better shopping experience when equipped with the latest mobile technologies.
Yet, 59% of shoppers feel they are better connected to consumer information, including coupons, competitive pricing and product availability, than store associates.
"In the store, retail associates can be engaged to drive loyalty rather than just complete a transaction," said Paul. "The most successful retailers are empowering their associates to become devoted brand advocates who are knowledgeable, connected online, have the authority to price match and are aware of products available through other channels."
Retailers also benefit from providing shoppers with self-help technology in the store. Roughly 58% of shoppers will use self-help technologies – the most common being price checkers (60%) and self-checkout payment lanes (57%).