Holiday 2012: Part VII

For more of my holiday expectations:

Holiday 2012: Part I
Holiday 2012: Part II
Holiday 2012: Part III
Holiday 2012: Part IV
Holiday 2012: Part V
Holiday 2012: Part VI

As I predicted in my earlier writings,   a survey last week from Chase Paymentech, a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co., found that online companies are expecting the 2012 holiday shopping season to be better than last year. Fifty-nine percent of e-commerce companies surveyed expect better sales volume this season than in 2011, while almost half (47%) expect it to be better than pre-recession levels in 2007. The companies surveyed expect 6% of holiday sales to come from mobile commerce while 39% expect average ticket prices to be higher (with 45% expecting it to stay roughly the same).

Accenture released their annual consumer holiday shopping study. A few key results:

1) As I wrote about earlier, Thanksgiving Day will be a big online shopping day.  The Accenture study found that half (52%) of consumers would be willing to shop online if retailers offer discounts
2) The survey found a rising interest in shopping on Black Friday relative to the past two annual surveys in 2010 and 2011 suggesting interest around Black Friday could see a pick-up in traffic in 2012
3) About half (51%) of respondents have set aside cash needed to complete their holiday shopping
4) Accenture finds 56% of shoppers say they will search online for the best price and purchase online after seeing a product they want in a traditional brick and mortar store front.  Twenty-seven percent of these shoppers say they will make the purchase on their smartphones or tablets while still out shopping.  This seems like a very high figure.  Research from Traqline presented at CEA’s recent Research conference suggests showrooming (browsing in a brick-and-mortar storefront and then buying from a competing retailer online) is actually only impacting 4-6 percent of sales.
5) Tablets and smartphones will be used by 25% of consumers to complete some of their holiday shopping.  (Note: CEA research finds tablets are now owned by roughly 31% of U.S. households, so this is a very high figure suggesting most with a tablet will use it to complete some of their holiday shopping)
6) Consistent with CEA research, roughly 23% of U.S. shoppers plan to shop between Black Friday and the end of November.

Target and BestBuy both recently announced they will match competing online prices this holiday season.  For Target, the list of competitors is short. The price-match plan, which will be in effect November 1st through December 16th, is limited to identical products sold by a short list of online competitors including and the e-commerce sites of BestBuy, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart.

Consistent with my earlier comments linked above, the  Home Entertainment Source (HES), the A/V specialty division of the BrandSource buying group expects inventories to remain in line this holiday season. HES expects increased price enforcement by manufacturers through recently implemented UPP and multi-channel MPA policies to limit pricing promotions this holiday season within the mid- to premium-price tier segments.   I question if UPP will remain well maintained when companies are looking to capture some of the holiday purchasing  – especially in the face of a trying 2012 for some categories. Jim Ristow expects “retailers to supplement their tier 1 Black Friday buys with hundreds of thousands of off-brand SKUs which could support both a well-maintained UPP while at the same time remain competitive to capture those crucial holiday sales.

Attachments will be a big opportunity this season.  According to the official CEA forecast, I estimate soundbars will be up over 50%

NFR and BIGInsight polled consumers at the beginning of October. The recently released results found 36% would like to receive consumer tech or computer-related accessories as a gift this holiday season, compared with 35% last year. Gift cards were the most wished for present, cited by 61% of respondents, followed by apparel (49%) and books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (46%).Fifty-two percent of respondents said they plan to shop online, up from 47 percent last year, and more than a quarter plan to do as much as half their holiday shopping via the web, up from 24.4 percent last year.

Amazon announced they will hire 50,000 seasonal workers at its fulfillment centers across the U.S. this quarter.