Holiday Shoppers Confident but Budget-Conscious
Over half (55%) of consumers are feeling much merrier about their financial situation than they did last year, according to Synchrony Financial’s Annual Holiday Shopping Study.
Due to this higher consumer confidence, Synchrony believes holiday sales will increase 3.6% to 4% over 2015 levels. Of those who expect to spend more this season, 45% say they will do more shopping because of longer lists and improved finances.
Even with this more positive outlook, holiday shoppers plan to start buying early so they can stay stress-free and stick to their budgets this year. 85% plan to search for sales this holiday season, and 59% (up from 53% last year) plan to set a holiday budget.
“Consumer confidence continues to improve and we see it shaping the season in the form of increased sales,” said Bart Schaller, EVP and chief marketing officer at Synchrony Financial. “However, caution overrides personal optimism, and shoppers tell us they’re carefully planning, pacing and prioritizing their holiday purchases to stay on schedule and on budget.”
While the official shopping season does not kick off until November, half of Americans say they budget all year for holiday expenses, and 28% purchase gifts throughout the year. Other ways consumers are planning ahead include:
- For those who are not already done shopping, 42% said they will begin before Black Friday, 28% plan to purchase after Thanksgiving, and 67% plan to complete all shopping by mid-December.
- 30% of shoppers plan to utilize layaway (up from 25% last year).
- Many shoppers (66%) want to leverage their credit card rewards by using their cards to buy holiday gifts.
- Gift card use is on the rise. 67% of the survey respondents said they will give gift cards this year, and 32% say they will buy more than last year.