Optimistic Shoppers to Spend More This Holiday Season

November 24, 2015, Written By Lynn Oldshue
Portrait of joyful husband and wife going shopping before Christmas

Almost half of all consumers are more confident about their financial situation during this holiday season than they were last year, and 48% plan to start shopping earlier, according to a Synchrony Financial study.

This more optimistic outlook, fueled by improved finances and larger gift lists, is spurring 32% of shoppers to spend more than they did last year (up from 21% in 2014). However, even though many consumers plan to spend more, over half of all shoppers set a budget, and 76% said they always comparison shop to make sure they’re getting the best price. Many say online research is an essential part of their shopping process, especially for higher ticket items.

To stay within their budgets, consumers plan to pay close attention to holiday deals. 51% of respondents report they find out about holiday sales from their local newspapers, and 39% report they expect to see the best sales on Black Friday. Of the respondents who plan to spend more this year than they did last, 90% plan to shop on special sales days. One-third will start shopping before Black Friday, 54% plan to make a purchase on Black Friday and 55% plan to shop on Cyber Monday.

Most shoppers make purchases in-store, but survey respondents said they plan to buy big ticket items (in the $500+ category) online. For all other purchases, 70% of shoppers said online shopping is easier, and the most important reasons for buying online include free shipping, price and convenience. In fact, online sales grow by about 10% each year.

“In our survey, shoppers indicate they have more to spend and more to buy this season, influenced by their underlying confidence about their personal finances,” said Sanjay Sidhwani, senior vice president of Marketing Analytics for Synchrony Financial. “This is similar to other insights we’ve gathered, showing shopper optimism is balanced with a spending plan and sales research to stretch dollars further and maximize discounts and rewards.”

Over 80% of the survey respondents said they will use a credit card to pay for some of their holiday purchases. Rewards are an important factor in choosing a card, as 40% of consumers said the credit card they use will depend on the rewards offered.

The online survey was conducted between September 18 and 28. Over 1,400 participants were interviewed, including 701 Synchrony Bank cardholders and 700 random shoppers.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of November 24, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.