Shopping for Bargains

Most Americans don’t know what they are giving as gifts yet, but they are confident they will be bought at bargain prices, according to surveys. CoolSavings found that 81 percent of 1,124 respondents had not completed their holiday shopping as of Dec. 16, 2002, and a study of 4,299 online shoppers revealed that 94 percent visit numerous sites to comparison shop for the best deals.

The CoolSavings poll revealed that 14 percent haven’t even started shopping yet; 21 percent have completed roughly one-quarter of all their shopping; another 14 percent have about half accomplished; and 32 percent are about three-quarters finished. Only 19 percent indicated that they have finished all their shopping.

BIGresearch/NRF found similar results, with 57 percent of consumers indicating that less than half of all their gifts have been bought. When they stop procrastinating, 28.1 percent will spend their shopping money online, with the majority (56.6 percent) going to discount department stores. Traditional department stores will grab 32.5 percent of the remaining customers, 25.7 percent will go to specialty retailers, and 7.4 percent will shop from catalogs.

Could all the deal-hunting be slowing down the shoppers? BizRate found that 54 percent of online consumers are more deal-centric in 2002 than they were the year prior, since 74 percent indicated that their budget is tighter. Almost one-third (31 percent) have recognized the competitive nature of the Internet, saying that there are more deals available, while 21 percent say it is easier to find a deal.

Not only do almost all of the e-shoppers compare prices, but 72 percent shop around for the best shipping charges too.

With time short, only 5 percent of online consumers are starting their shopping at an auction site, with the majority (54 percent) going directly to a specific merchant first, and then visiting an average of 2.5 times before checking out. Almost one-quarter (22 percent) start looking for bargains by going to a comparison shopping site first; 11 percent go to a search engine first; and 8 percent begin at a shopping portal.

Credit card users are leading the charge, so to speak, as a BIGresearch/NRF study of 8,500 consumers in November 2002 found that nearly 67 percent of credit card users will spend more or the same as last year, compared to roughly 61 percent of non-credit card users.

According to the study, 12.2 percent of credit card users say they plan on buying a computer; 12.2 percent furniture; 9.9 percent appliances; and a whopping 22.1 percent on vacation travel.

“It appears credit card users are opting for freedom. The freedom to engage in the immediacy of travel compared to what might be called home necessities i.e. computer, furniture and appliances. Could be a sign of the times”, said Joe Pilotta, vice president for BIGresearch.

Interestingly, even before the holiday credit card bills come rolling in BIGresearch found in a separate study that “paying down debt” is the priority for over 44 percent of consumers, followed by “decreasing overall spending” and “increasing savings.”

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