For the second year in a row, the Internet is U.S. consumers’ top holiday gift shopping venue. According to the findings of Deloitte LLC’s annual holiday survey, 45% of the more than 5,000 consumers surveyed say they are likely to shop online for holiday gifts.
And there will be more dollars to spend. Consumers will spend an average of $458 on gifts for others, up 9% from $421 last holiday. Meanwhile, spending across all holiday-related categories, such as for holiday decorations and socializing away from home, will rise 12.5%, from $1154 a year ago to $1299 this year.
Consumers’ slightly less gloomy outlook on the state of the U.S. economy appears to be contributing to them planning to spend more: 8% of respondents to this year’s survey characterize the economy as “healthy,” up from 4% in last year’s survey. The percentage saying the economy was “slowly recovering from recession” remained consistent, 53% this year versus 54% last year. 29% this year say the economy is still in recession versus 32% a year ago, and 11% this year say the economy is heading back into recession versus 10% who said the same last year. 15% of consumers say they intend to spend more this holiday season versus 13% who said they intended to spend more last holiday.
Online holiday retail sales and mail order purchases in the United States will increase between 13.5% and 14.0% this year compared with 2013, according to a projection Deloitte released last month. Deloitte says 40% of holiday dollars will be spent online, which is in line with analysis released earlier this month by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. PwC estimates 43% of holiday gift spending will happen online.
Respondents to the Deloitte survey cite long lines (40%), too much traffic (26%) and not having the merchandise they want (25%) as the biggest inhibitors to shopping in stores. More than half of consumers, 58%, say they know more about the products they intend to buy than the store staff they encounter. That’s because consumers are researching on the web before they go to stores: The web will influence 50% of in-store retail sales this season, Deloitte says. For example, 28% of consumers say they rely on online reviews prior to making a purchase, and 23% say they will use their smartphones to compare prices while in a store.