Latest Data Shows Economic Crisis Driving More Holiday Shoppers To Start Online

Two new holiday consumer shopping surveys predict that the online retailing will gain importance this year due to economic factors. Exactly how much importance it will gain depends on the surveys, which show some dramatic differences.

First up is the e-tailing group‘s 3rd Annual Mindset of the Multi-Channel Shopper Holiday Survey. It shows that 90% of all consumers surveyed intend to shop (research and purchase) online this year, which would be a huge increase compare to other surveys. The NRF also updated its outlook, predicting last week that 44% of all consumers would shop online, which is essentially the same as last year.

“For the first time, the web has surpassed the store as the preferred way for multi-channel shoppers to purchase holiday gifts,” states the e-tailing survey. Of those surveyed, 49% intend to do their holiday gift buying online while 44 percent plan to do so in-store. Reasons for shopping online start with saving time (88%), locating hard-to-find products (84%), greater selection (83%) and avoiding the crowds at the mall (83%) – all surpassing saving money, which is still an important factor for 80 percent.

Given the tough economic climate, 52% of consumers plan to buy fewer holiday gifts this year. Although these consumers plan to buy fewer gifts and spend less for those gifts, 72 percent vs. 65 percent in 2007 are planning to research products online prior to purchasing. Over 91 percent plan to purchase the same number or somewhat more gifts online, equal to last year’s spending level.

“Value spending is definitely the mantra as these multi-tasking consumers watch and monitor the web to get the best deals,” observes Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group. “Holiday gift buying is particularly impacted by this propensity for shopping smart as consumers preview online to get the most for their money.”
Influencers when buying gifts online are topped by promotions, search, and customer service based on a ranking of thirty-six features where free shipping and sales/specials top the list. The number one ranked reason for not buying more online is the high cost of shipping according to 78% of those surveyed. For 42% vs. 30% last year, gift cards will account for 11-50% of their online holiday spending. Wish list usage has also accelerated with 35% vs. 25% last year reporting that they have shopped online from someone else’s wish list 3+ times.


The NRF survey predicts that the number of people buying gifts online is expected to remain flat over last year (44.2% in 2008 vs. 44.3% in 2007), but shoppers will rely on the Internet more than ever to browse for holiday gifts and research products. According to the survey, the Internet will influence 33.6 percent of holiday purchases, up from 30.2% last year and 28.9% in 2006.

 According to the NRF survey, 40.0% of shoppers say that sales or promotions is the largest factor when determining where to shop, while another 12.6% state that everyday low prices are most important. Other consumers rated selection (21.5%) and merchandise quality (13.4%) as the primary factor. Only a handful of consumers said they are making buying decisions based on a convenient location (5.6%) or helpful customer service (5.2%) this year.

Featured Event

Join the retail community as we come together for three days of strategic sessions, meaningful off-site networking events and interactive learning experiences.



Access The Media Kit


Access Our Editorial Calendar

If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below: