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Consumers Slow to Start Holiday Shopping, According to NRF Survey

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Kathy Grannis or Scott Krugman (202) 783-7971
grannisk@nrf.com or krugmans@nrf.com  

Consumers Slow to Start Holiday Shopping, According to NRF Survey 

Washington, November 12, 2007 – Retailers who are concerned that holiday sales aren’t living up to expectations needn’t worry: shoppers are off to a slow start. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 Holiday Consumer Intentions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, most consumers (71.4%) have less than ten percent of their holiday shopping completed. Young adults 18-24 are the least prepared with three-fourths of them (76.2%) finished with less than ten percent of their shopping. 

“Good news lies ahead for many retailers whose shoppers have yet to put a dent in their shopping lists,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Now that the weather has started to cool, consumers will start to think about holiday shopping by making lists, researching gift ideas, and window shopping around town.” 

According to the survey, debit and check cards will be king again this year with 40.1 percent of shoppers relying on them to make purchases this holiday season, up from 39.1 percent last year. Additionally, about a third of holiday shoppers (32.3%) will primarily use credit cards for holiday purchases. As electronic transactions begin to replace traditional methods of payment, only 5.5 percent of shoppers plan on using their checkbook, and 22.1 percent will use cash.   

With unending options, the majority of consumers plan to reach for clothing or clothing accessories (57.2%) and books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (57.1%) when purchasing gifts for their loved ones. Gift cards continue to rank at the top of lists with 56.6 percent of consumers saying they plan on buying gift cards this year. Other popular items include toys (43.1%) and consumer electronic or computer related accessories (29.2%). 

“Retailers have tried to entice consumers into the stores with early sales and promotions this holiday season, but shoppers are clearly on their own schedule,” said BIGresearch Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist. “Because gift cards are never out of stock, consumers feel that they can wait until the last minute to start shopping. Retailers may continue to wrestle with the best ways to bring people into the stores early this year.”    

About the Survey

The NRF 2007 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey, which polled 7,982 consumers, was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from October 31–November 7, 2007. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 7,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace. 

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2006 sales of $4.7 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.