Consumers plan to spend more this holiday season, NPD finds

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — It seems that consumers' holiday spending intentions are more positive than last year, according to NPD's 11th annual holiday retail study.

Among 3,618 respondents polled in September, 10% said they plan on spending more this holiday season, compared with 9% in 2011; 67% said they plan to spend about the same, compared with 64% last year; and 23% said they plan to spend less, compared with 27% in 2011. But as additional consumers are willing to spend more this holiday season, their shopping timeline differs from 2011: More consumers already started their holiday shopping by this time last year (16% this year versus 17% in 2011), while the number of consumers who said they would begin their shopping before Thanksgiving rose from 19% in 2011 to 21% in 2012.

"Looking at this year's responses, I see a light at the end of the tunnel with more consumers telling us they plan to 'spend about the same' and less planning to 'spend less,'" said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. "While consumer confidence seems to be up retailers will still face some challenges. They will need to develop creative ways to lure shoppers into the stores."

So where will consumers head to when they start their holiday shopping? Half (50%) said they will shop at discount retailers (i.e., Kmart, Target and Walmart); 38% intend to shop online and 28% said they intend to shop national chains, such as Sears and Kohl's, among others. However, NPD found that there is an increased emphasis on shopping at off-price stores, drug stores and specialty stores (rising 1% to 2%), compared with 2011.

"Retailers at all levels are likely to be challenged this year with the channel lines increasingly becoming blurred. Among the competition for traditional retailers this year are drug stores and supermarkets," Cohen said. "Now that consumers are less attracted to sale prices and more attracted to selection, as well as convenience, stocking the right items will be essential to drive foot traffic."