October 24, 2012, 3:13 PM

The election delays holiday shopping plans

But 28% of consumers will shop on Black Friday, Deloitte says.

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Voting comes before holiday shopping, at least for some consumers.

About one quarter—24%—of the 5,089 consumers in a September survey by research and consulting firm Deloitte LLP say they will defer starting their holiday spending until after the Nov. 6 election, according to results released today. The survey included responses from consumers who say they shop online and inside stores.

“The election may initially distract consumers, but we expect them to give retailers a post-election ‘bounce’ once their attention turns to the holidays and shopping,” says Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte, and retail and distribution sector leader. 

Both the Deloitte survey and another released today by consulting firm Accenture suggest consumers will be working hard to find bargains this season, and that retailers will do well to pay attention to consumers shopping with mobile devices.

In the Deloitte survey, 28% of respondents say they plan to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, often called Black Friday. 58% say they’ll shop in December. Of those who won’t shop until December, 29% will wait until the week before Christmas in order to get the best discounts, they say, and a quarter will delay shopping until after Christmas, according to Deloitte. Additionally, 12% of respondents will do some holiday purchasing as late as January.

Of all respondents, 45% say they plan to shop for the holidays online this year, which Deloitte says represents an increase of 10 percentage points from 35% in 2010.

Deloitte also reports that this holiday season:

• So called ‘omnichannel’ shoppers in the survey, who plan to use computers, mobile devices and stores to complete purchases, will spend $600 for gifts on average, about 71% more than store-only shoppers, who will spend $350. Two-thirds of those respondents have annual incomes of more than $100,000 and 40% of them say they’ll also shop for themselves, Paul says, which adds to their appeal for retailers.

Smartphone shoppers in the survey on average will spend $498 on gifts this year, more than the $328 that non-smartphone shoppers will spend.

• 67% of respondents say they’ll research items online before buying.

• 44% of respondents say they’ll buy only on-sale items and 38% expect retailers to match prices.

• Half of consumers in the survey expect the economy to improve this year and just 37% say they’ll spend less on the holidays this year than last—the lowest rate since 2006.

Another survey today, this one from consultancy Accenture, found that 23% of consumers will shop in the period between Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving—and the end of November this year, up from 19% in 2011. Accenture based its findings on a survey of 500 U.S. consumers conducted in October. Those consumers also shop both online and inside stores.

The survey found that 54% of shoppers will buy holiday gifts via the Internet if the same goods are offered on and offline, with the driver of this preference being to avoid crowds for 30% of all respondents.

Accenture also reports that this holiday season:

• Cyber Monday, the marketing term for the first Monday after Thanksgiving that falls this year on Nov. 26, will entice 34% of respondents to shop.

• A quarter of consumers surveyed say they’ll shop online with a tablet or smartphone this year, up from 17% in 2011. The top reason consumers gave for shopping by mobile device is to compare prices online while in-store, a practice often called “showrooming.” 27% of respondents who say they’ll showroom also say they’ll make a purchase online while in stores.

• 78% of respondents say they will be seeking discounts, with 50% saying they want 20% to 40% off before they’ll buy.

• Gift cards and apparel are the top items consumers in the survey plan to buy this year, cited by 52% and 51% of respondents, respectively. After that are toys, which 38% say they will buy; smartphones or tablets, 16%; and charity donations, 11%. Respondents could select multiple responses.

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