20 Oct 2009

Its ‘Back to the Basics’ for Holiday Shopping Say Our Market Research Online Community Members

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This month we asked our Finance Waggle market research online community members to elaborate on how they expect to behave during the holidays with regard to:

  • Gift giving
  • Entertaining
  • Spending
  • Shopping

Their comments give us insight into what the 2009 holiday shopping season may be like.  Based on our community members comments, if we had to give one overarching label to this year’s upcoming holiday shopping season, it would be “Back to the Basics.”

Changes in Spending

Our Waggle members clearly communicated an intention to hold the reins on spending during the holiday season.  In a poll on the site, half say that they anticipate spending less on holiday gifts this year.  Importantly, NONE of our members expect to be spending more than they did last year (which was in its own right a bleak holiday season).  Their methods for controlling spending take multiple forms, but seem to focus on setting limits and sticking to them.  Some of these tactics include:

  • An increased use of gift cards (although potentially in lower dollar amounts)
  • Budget setting
  • Gift $ maximums agreed to by family members
  • Buying presents for fewer people, or implementing a ‘Secret Santa’ policy
  • Homemade or alternative gifts

Changes in Shopping

As we’ve seen earlier in the year with our members reporting shopping changes for everyday items such as groceries, we are anticipating a continuance of ‘The Engaged Shopper’ — those who are willing to put in extra effort to get the best deal on their purchases.  Some of these tactics include:

  • Buying in advance of the holidays — to take advantage of early sales
  • Online shopping — free shipping/no gas
  • Using coupons
  • The resurgence of the layaway
  • Giving gifts purchased at last year’s after Christmas sales
  • Black Friday sales

A New Definition of ‘Gift’

While homemade gifts have long been a tradition for households with children or those wishing to display their homemaking skills, this year it appears that the homemade gift takes on a new meaning — as a responsible way to show another that you care.  Several of our members discussed their intention to give craft or homemade gifts this year.

Also interesting is a perceived increase in the use of repurposed or refurbished gifts for the holidays.  White Elephant gift giving seems to be rising, as well as the giving of slightly used items.

Less ‘Surprise!’- More ‘Need to Have’

Also, it appears that there may be less surprise in a gift recipient’s package this season.  We see a desire among gift givers for the money they put towards their gift not to be wasted — as they want to make sure it is something that the recipient wants or needs.  Hence, here’s another reason for an increased use of gift cards this season (particularly among hard to please teens).  Members are also open about asking family members what they want for Christmas, or telling their spouses what they need.

The Economic Scrooge

Unfortunately, there may not be any holiday season for some of us, particularly those who have lost a job or are having issues with medical bills.  They are living a day to day existence, or are trying their best to pay down some debt.  Some are scrimping now to make sure they have any holiday.

Homespun Holidays

There appears to be a different attitude among our members regarding the upcoming holiday season.  In particular, they are reflecting what the holidays are all about and what is important to them.  This may be reflected in a resurgence of religious ties to the holiday, and a solid focus on family during the season — rather than a focus on material trappings.  You just may hear more people saying ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy holidays as you walk down the street.

Toned Down Decorating

In conjunction with a more reflective tone for the holidays, we may see an increase of more traditional or natural decorating in homes and businesses.

The Holiday Potluck

It clearly appears that the economy may be taking its toll on holiday entertaining.  Fewer of our members report that they expect to travel for the holidays.  Rather, we see an increase in those who say they will just stay home for the season.

Entertaining is expected to be simplified, with fewer restaurant extravaganzas and more potluck dinners.

Out of the Ashes…Comes Hope

As our community members clearly expect a toned-down holiday, one might expect an equally toned-down mood.  However, many of these members instead reflected on the positive aspects of these economic times.  Instead of being somber, they appear hopeful.  In particular, they mentioned that cutting back will reduce their stress.  Also, it’s allowing them to seek a renewed focus on what is important during the holiday, such as their family or religion.

Find out more about Waggle at www.driwaggle.com.

Jane Mount
Executive Vice President

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