The Checkout: Holiday Shopping 2011

Not long ago, Thanksgiving-weekend department store sales were a key barometer of U.S. retail health. Does that model still work?

Probably not. According to our 2011 Holiday Shopper survey, fielded shortly before this year’s holiday shopping season, holiday shoppers are overwhelmingly swapping store experience for savings, as indicated in the 2011 Holiday Value Equation shown here. This is bad news for department stores, traditionally the one-stop-shop for holiday shoppers, who in the past placed a value on elaborate window dioramas and jolly Santa visits to lure parents with children.

Today’s shoppers are savvier than ever and happy to make trips to multiple retail channels, including eCommerce, if that nets them the greatest savings on the goods they want. While Department Stores are acknowledged to have the widest selection overall, 13 percent few shoppers plan to do most of their shopping in this channel.

When Department Stores lose, who wins? Primarily Mass and Discount stores, which showed an increase from 16 percent in 2010 to 25 percent of shoppers this year planning to do most of their holiday shopping in more cost-effective channels.

Online retailers are also poised to win big this holiday season, as more shoppers plan to shop online over Thanksgiving Weekend and on Cyber Monday, balancing brick-and-mortar shopping with the saving and convenience that online retailers have to offer, including reviews, price comparisons and free shipping.

Please click here to download The Checkout – 2011 Holiday Shopping issue.