WASHINGTON -- A survey released by the National Retail Federation predicts that holiday shopping this year won't be terrible. And that's good news for bulk vending operators with locations in malls and key shopping districts.
According to the Federation's 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch, consumers plan to spend an average of $704.18 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise, down slightly from last year's $718.98. However, the NRF is independently forecasting overall holiday retail sales to grow by a modest 2.8% during the months of November and December to $465.6 billion. And while the Washington-based NRF is predicting an uptick in online shopping, consumers will still be hitting the malls and other brick-and-mortar locations.
The largest portion of consumers' holiday budgets will go toward gifts for family members, with the average person expected to shell out $403.26 on kids, parents and other family members. Friends, coworkers and even the family pet can expect something nice this year, as well; holiday celebrants are predicted to spend an average of $68.23 on friends, $21.06 on co-workers, and $23.39 on other gifts. Consumers will also spend on decorations ($46.73), greeting cards ($26.52), candy and food ($96.75), and flowers ($18.23).
"When it comes to retail growth this holiday season, slow and steady wins the race -- and the same is true for shoppers, who are meticulously calculating the best ways to stretch their dollar," said NRF president and chief executive Matthew Shay. "Knowing their customers are more focused than ever on value, retailers will entice shoppers with promotions that go beyond discounts, whether they're promoting free gifts with purchase, an extended warranty, or stellar customer service."
As in past years, nearly 40% of consumers began their holiday shopping before Halloween; this year, 38.9% already have started. Another 40% will begin shopping in November, 17% will hit the stores the first two weeks of December -- and 4.1% will procrastinate until the final two weeks of December.
Bulk vending operators with locations in key shopping districts and malls have traditionally seen a bounce in sales during the holiday season. And while some operators have reported a decline in expected foot traffic over the past few years, this year it looks as though retailers will offer aggressive sales, promotions and special events to lure shoppers.
NRF's annual survey is designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 8,585 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch between Oct. 4 and Oct. 11. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1%.
The NRF is the world's largest retail trade association. Its membership includes retailers of all types and sizes throughout the U.S. and more than 45 countries.