Holiday season gives birth to new shoppers

Four new types of American shoppers have emerged this holiday season. There's the bargain hunter who times deals. The midnight buyer who stays up late for discounts. The returner who gets buyer's remorse. And the “me” shopper who self-gifts.
By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO Published: December 28, 2011
Advertisement
;

Four new types of U.S. shoppers have emerged this holiday season.

There's the bargain hunter who times deals. The midnight buyer who stays up for discounts. The returner who gets buyer's remorse. And the “me” shopper who self-gifts.

It's the latest shift by consumers in the fourth year of a weak U.S. economy. Shoppers are expected to spend $469.1 billion in the holiday shopping season that runs from November through December. While it won't be known how much Americans spent until the season ends Saturday, it's clear they are shopping differently than in years past.

“We're seeing different types of buying behavior in a new economic reality,” says C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group.

The bargain timer

Cost-conscious shoppers haven't just been looking for bargains this season. They've also been more deliberate about when to find those deals. Many believe the biggest bargains come at the beginning and end of the season, creating a kind of “dumbbell effect” in sales.

For the week ended Nov. 26, which included the traditional start of the holiday shopping season the day after Thanksgiving, stores had the biggest sales surge compared with the prior week since 1993, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Stores Sales Index. The cumulative two-week-sales drop-off that followed marked the biggest percentage decline since 2000. Stores had another surge in the final days, as retailers stepped up promotions again.

“Shoppers are budgeting their money and time,” says Paco Underhill, whose company, Envirosell, studies how consumers behave in stores. “They're focused on being opportunistic bargain shopping vultures.”

Kalilah Middleton, 30, of Queens, is one of them. Starting late Thanksgiving night, she spent five hours and $400 at Walmart and Target. She bought a TV and clothing at 50 percent off. Then, she waited until Christmas Eve to shop again because she believed she'd find lower prices later in the season.

“This is when you get the best deals,” Middleton, an office manager, says about holiday shopping.

According to America's Research Group, about one-third of shoppers say they want to see post-Christmas discounts of about 70 to 80 percent.

The midnight buyer

Bargain shoppers used to wake up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of big discounts on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. This year, some shoppers instead stayed up late Thanksgiving night.

This shift in behavior was in large part due to retailers' efforts to outdo each other during the traditional start to the holiday shopping season. Stores such as Macy's, Best Buy and Target for the first time opened at midnight Thanksgiving night, offering deals that once were reserved for the next day.

Twenty-four percent of Black Friday shoppers were at stores at midnight, according to a poll by the National Retail Federation, the industry's biggest trade group. That's up from 9.5 percent in 2010, when only a few stores were open at that time.

| |

Advertisement


Trending Now



AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Hotel leaves Oklahoma City Thunder opponents telling ghost stories
  2. 2
    Check out the Thunder postseason playlist
  3. 3
    VIDEO: Blake Griffin dumps water on a fan
  4. 4
    Oklahoma City Thunder: Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes calls drug suspension unfair
  5. 5
    Dave Chappelle Reveals Shockingly Buff New Look
+ show more