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Shopping 2011 & 2012

The US holiday shopping season will be judged a success with about a four percent increase over 2010, well above most predictions. Online buying surged about 15%. Though still small, online is a formidable path to purchase year round. Whether online or in-store, the American shopper shows signs of revival.

Black Friday (Nov 25) lived up to its reputation as the biggest consumer buying day of the year but was followed by Dec 24 and Dec 26 as the #2 and #3 biggest days as shoppers looked for the best deals. And retailers and online sources delivered the bargains – often with free shipping. Some retailers’ margins likely suffered; this might have been Kmart’s last Christmas.

Beyond yearend buying, 2011 saw more smartphone-enabled shopping and more review-seeking by shoppers. According to Google, consumers DOUBLED the number of sources they use to 10.7 sources before making a purchase. Word-of-mouth has never been more important or widely and seamlessly delivered.

What will 2012 bring? As broadband reaches more households and shoppers, we’ll see better-informed shopping behavior as shoppers search for the best deal for them, often defined as some combination of price, availability and convenience. Attracting and converting shoppers into buyers will continue to challenge retailers, brand marketers and in-store merchandising professionals as we seek to meet the needs of the more knowledgeable and technologically-enabled shopper. It’ll keep us all on our toes!