Survey: Shoppers Expected To Spend More Than Ever During Holidays

Survey: Shoppers Expected To Spend More Than Ever During Holidays

The Twin Cities’ strong economy has consumers confident they can buy more this year.

Tis the season for more shopping? Consumers in the Twin Cities are on track to spend a record amount over the holidays, according to a survey released Wednesday.
 
The survey, conducted by the University of St. Thomas’ Institute for Retailing Excellence, says households are expected to spend $868 on gifts, up 3.7 percent from last year and the largest amount since they started the survey 13 years ago.
 
All told, total spending is expected to hit $1.15 billion in the region. That’s $340 million more than during the throes of the recession.
 
“Consumers are ready to buy,” institute co-director and UST marketing professor David Brennan said in a statement. He noted that the Twin Cities’ 3.6 percent unemployment rate and confidence in the economy’s stability are reassuring to consumers.
 
Gift cards, clothing and cash remain at the top of the heap for the most popular presents expected under the tree, but rising quickly up the ranks are more expensive items: computers, cell phones and travel opportunities. Video games, books and jewelry fell in popularity compared to numbers last year.
 
It’s not only a change in the types of gifts purchased this year, as location of purchases is expected to shift as well. Increasingly, it’s happening on our couch, which now makes up a third of holiday shopping.
 
“The importance of the ‘dales’ is diminishing,” Brennan said, noting that in 2002, about 51 percent of holiday dollars were spent at large malls. Now that number is down to 43 percent.
 
In addition to the internet, so-called “lifestyle centers”—smaller outdoor malls that typically lack an anchor and mimic old-fashion main streets such as Eagan’s Twin Cities Premium Outlets—and standalone stores are grabbing larger shares of the pie. Twin Cities Business noted declining mall traffic in an article last month.
 
But among the large, regional shopping centers, two reign supreme: Mall of America and Rosedale. More survey takers said they’d visit MOA at least once during the holiday season, with Rosedale following closely behind. But the Roseville mall topped the charts for where consumers said they would do majority of their shopping. Chalk that up to the mall’s proximity to core and easy highway access, Brennan said.
 
Target was the most mentioned individual store for where shoppers will head, well ahead of other big box competitors, including Walmart by a factor of three. Brennan said that the company is still affected by last year’s ill-timed data breach, with traffic still down. The company noted in today’s quarterly results that revenues are up, but that is largely due a bigger basket sales.
 

One growing phenomenon researchers are watching: earlier Black Friday sales, which for many stores now occurs on Thursday evening.
 
“Are we resigned to the ‘creeping Christmas syndrome?’” asked Lewis Carbone, founder of Experience Engineering, an experience management consulting firm that works with retailers.  “It’s like a feeding frenzy to gather as much of the sales dollars early in the race.”
 
While some Black Friday sales are beginning earlier in the week, researchers at the Institute for Retailing Excellence suspect opening hours on Thanksgiving can’t creep much closer to midday. Open too early, they noted, and you’ll lack traffic, as families are busy eating their big meal of the day.
 
The survey included 306 online responses from households in the 13-county Minneapolis-St. Paul area, with demographics reflecting the region and previous surveys.