A Consumer Story: 5 Surprising Holiday Shopping Trends

Yes, it’s that most wonderful time of the year. Holiday shopping season is officially here. But what will set 2013 apart from previous years? Are shoppers really ditching the lines in stores for buying gifts online? Where do shoppers turn for inspiration when looking for those perfect presents? And what about mobile – is it really the game changer that so many claim it is?

To get in the spirit of the season, we asked an online community of retail shoppers questions about how, when, and where they plan to spend money this year on holiday shopping. Their answers uncovered some surprising results.

1. There is no “holiday shopping season” after all.
Nearly one-third of shoppers said they gather ideas and keep their eyes peeled for the perfect holiday gifts throughout the year, not just between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. After all, savvy holiday shoppers know that some of the best deals can be found in July and August . . . not November and December.

2. Nothing compares to the in-store holiday shopping experience.
A majority of shoppers (82% of them, in fact) will likely buy gifts in-store – not online – this holiday season. Why? Because shopping is an inherently sensory experience, especially around the holidays when shoppers can revel in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the season. They can physically inspect products, scout out special in-store sales, get assistance from (hopefully) friendly customer service associates and much more – all experiences that are tough to reproduce on a computer or mobile device.

3. Print and people provide inspiration.
Never underestimate the power of print and people. Contrary to popular belief, print remains a tried and true medium for shoppers this holiday season as they look to print ads, brochures, catalogues and flyers for gathering gift ideas. But its friends and family that take top billing for the number one most inspiring resource this year.

4. Social isn’t for everyone.
Sure, your mom might have an active social life on Facebook, but chances are she’s not looking for holiday gift deals there this year. Only one-third of shoppers say they’ll use social media this holiday season, mostly to get inspiration from friends and family (remember surprising result #3?), learn what’s on their wish lists and share opinions on the very best gifts to give (and get!).

5. The full transition to mobile shopping hasn’t totally arrived.
With so much talk of how big mobile shopping is this holiday season, shoppers are reluctant to follow through with buying items from their mobile devices. Instead, they use their smartphones and tablets to browse, create lists, compare prices, gather coupons, find deals, use shopping apps and read product reviews.

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