Holiday Shoppers Showing Their Price-​Conscious Side

Valpak, a coupon powerhouse for more than 45 years, has tracked shopping trends in its annual readership survey, and found some surprising differences in consumer purchasing decisions this holiday shopping season.

With an increased amount of savvy shoppers, individuals are now focused on shopping smarter to identify the best deals. According to a recent Valpak Consumer Survey,* although holiday spending habits are changing, only 18% plan to spend full price on a gift for a loved one.

"Shopping habits of today have changed due to more mindful consumers and a different approach to holiday spending," said Michael Vivio, president of Valpak. "Consumers are no longer dazzled with un-​targeted promotions and better understand the competition retailers have with one another during this peak season. Because of this knowledge, consumers are demanding more, and most if not all, don't feel obliged to pay full price during the 'season of giving'."

Consumers also prefer to shop in-​store to secure the best deal, according to the survey, yet also want to keep a little extra money in their pockets. And while they might be checking their phones for deals, they are not purchasing from their mobile devices as much; 48% know for certain that they will not purchase from a mobile device this year, with the number one reason being that they prefer to shop in-store.

When it comes to gifting, they might not be caving into peer pressure as well: 57% do not plan to purchase this years 'it' toy.

As a supporter of 55,000 businesses nationwide, Valpak also predicts a few major shopping trends to surface during holiday 2014 relating to both small business and consumer behaviors:

Battling with Big-​Box Retailers: The holidays may be a challenge for many small businesses, especially when competing with big-​box retailers and their increasingly lower prices. This year, local businesses will become even savvier when targeting consumers and a large piece of this strategy involves providing original, geo-​focused gifts consumers desire.

In addition to finding a gift this season that may be a bit more unique or out-​of-​the-​box, consumers are becoming more cognizant of how these types of purchases help give back to their community. People want to put their money where it will have the biggest impact and are now realizing they can find deals at smaller retailers, too.

Dinners vs. Deals: Each year, the bargains seemingly begin earlier and earlier, and now, consumers are putting down their napkin to put down their credit card at a nearby retail location. In hopes of a cost-​savings, many consumers now depart holiday dinners early to score a deal.

Behaviors and priorities are changing as some consumers prefer to secure a coveted item in-​store, rather than spend priceless time with family and friends. In many cases, the deal isn't worth the memories you'll miss, and knowing the best times to buy is really the key to success to save some holiday cash.

"Consumers are savvier than ever and are seeking a more personalized shopping experience," added Vivio. "In order to 'win' this holiday season, retailers need to better understand their consumers' wants and needs and this may be the huge advantage of smaller, local businesses. These companies now have opportunity to compete with the larger-​scale retailers based on their nimbleness and ability to adapt faster and quicker to exceed consumer expectations."

At least 10% of U.S. adults call themselves price-​conscious shoppers according to AudienceSCAN. These shoppers are willing to compromise quality to save money.  Not surprisingly, over half of these consumers have a household income of less than $50,000. These consumers are more likely than average to ride a bus or subway train to work. Despite their limited income, these consumers over-​index in their intent to buy tech toys in the next year. They've put video game systems, new computers, and tablets at the top of their list. These consumers also pay attention to digital marketing. In the past 30 days, over 40% have taken action as a result of a mobile smartphone app or text message. Local retailers may want to use that tactic to reach price-​conscious shoppers during the upcoming holiday season.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.