Debit cards first choice as way to pay for gifts

Filed under: Retail |

Once again debit/check cards will be the payment of choice this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2006 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.

The survey shows that 39.1 percent of consumers will use their debit/check cards most often when making holiday purchases, up from 34.3 percent in 2005. Nearly one in three people (30.5 percent) will rely on their credit cards for holiday shopping and, for the first time in two years, the number of people using cash at the register will drop.

According to the survey, 24.3 percent of consumers plan to use paper money as their preferred method of payment (compared to 28.5 percent in 2005 and 25.9 percent in 2004).

A marginal percentage (6.2 percent vs. 9.1 percent in 2005) of shoppers will be writing checks at the register.

“With full schedules, many people find it hard to carve out time in their day to get their holiday shopping done,” said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “Time-strapped shoppers enjoy the convenience of debit/check cards when out shopping for holiday gifts, eliminating the need to make an extra trip to the bank or ATM to withdraw money.”

The survey, which polled 8,090 consumers, was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from November 1-8.

A variety of merchandise will be on shoppers’ lists this year, with the majority of consumers (63.5 percent) planning to purchase clothing or accessories. Books, CDs, DVDs, videos and video games also remain gift favorites, with 62.2 percent of those polled planning to purchase at least one as a gift.

Other popular purchases include gift cards or gift certificates (56.2 percent), toys (48.3 percent) and consumer electronics or computer-related accessories (33.4 percent). In addition, 30 percent of consumers will include food or candy in their holiday gift purchases.

While some smart shoppers have begun to check items off of their lists, retailers have not yet begun to see the peak of their holiday traffic. While one in 20 consumers (5.6 percent) have almost finished (more than 75 percent complete) their holiday shopping, many shoppers have only just started.

According to the survey, the majority of people (68.5 percent) have completed 10 percent or less of their holiday shopping.

“Many people see Thanksgiving as a signal that it is time to start thinking about purchasing holiday gifts,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for BIGresearch. “Consumers know that retailers will be rolling out great deals and special promotions on Black Friday weekend, and they use that time to complete the bulk of their shopping.”

NRF continues to project that holiday sales will increase 5 percent compared to last year, bringing holiday spending to $457.4 billion.

Individual holiday spending expected to increase

About 17 percent of U.S. consumers report that they expect to spend more or substantially more this holiday season, while 56 percent expect to spend about the same as last year, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS Securities.

On average, consumers are expected to spend about $676 on holiday purchases this year, with men spending a bit more ($717) than women ($637) this holiday season. In 2005, the household expectation was $620.

Where do consumers expect to shop this holiday season? According to the survey, department stores will be busy, as more than three-quarters (78 percent) of adults expect to find their holiday gifts at department stores this year. Discounters will once again be another favorite shopping destination for consumers, as more than half of them (63 percent) intend to purchase their holiday gifts from these locations.

Consumers will also be shopping at large specialty stores (stores specializing in one type of merchandise) (46 percent), at small specialty stores (44 percent), online (37 percent) and catalogs (32 percent) this holiday season.

Opinion Research Corp. conducted the survey from November 2-5 on behalf of ICSC. The survey featured a sample of 1,000 adults living in private households in the continental United States.

Holiday retailers open at Promenade Shops

Calendar Club and Go! Toys and Games have joined the retail mix at The Promenade Shops at Briargate.

Opening just in time for the 2006 holiday shopping season, the stores bring more holiday shopping options for consumers.

Calendar Club stores offer more than 4,000 calendar titles, with something for every interest.

Go! Toys and Games carries board games, brainteasers, puzzles, gambling supplies, do-dads and gizmos for the entire family — from the most popular to the obscure and hard-to-find. The Promenade Shops at Briargate is located off Interstate 25, Exit 151 at Briargate Parkway.

Weekly sales up 1 percent at U.S. chain stores

U.S. chain store sales for the first week of November ticked up 1 percent from the previous week, compared to a 0.2 percent decline for the last week of October, according to the ICSC-UBS retail chain store index.

On a year-over-year basis, sales were up 2.3 percent.

“It appears the beat goes on for retailers,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research, “with a solid start for retail sales during the first week of the fiscal month of November.”

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.