NPD Releases Shopping Activity Weekly Holiday Trends Report For The Week Ending Dec. 12, 2011

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Although there are less shoppers in the market Brick and Mortar Conversion AND Online Buying Share Holds Steady

Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst, The NPD Group, Inc.

“There is good news and bad news in these holiday results. The good news is that the consumer keeps shopping and the bad news...the post-Thanksgiving lull continues.

For the week ending December 12, 2011, The Shopping Activity Weekly Holiday Trends* report from leading market research provider The NPD Group, Inc. shows a decrease in the number of shoppers^ in the market. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. consumers went shopping at brick & mortar retail compared to 66 percent the prior week. However, this week’s results do show consumers are more actively shopping in channels that drive holiday gift purchasing.

Over the course of the previous three weeks, the retail channels that contain products thought of for holiday gift purchasing have consistently seen increases in shopping visits. Those retailers are home specialty stores, beauty specialty stores and toy stores. Since the week that included Black Friday there are a handful of other channels that have experienced continuous growth in shopping visits. Among them are book stores, craft stores, department stores, mass merchants, and off-price stores.

Despite the decrease in the number of shoppers in the market, brick & mortar shopping conversion remained relatively stable, even showing a slight increase over last week.

See Chart: NPD's Shopping Activity Weekly Holiday Brick & Mortar Shopping Conversion Rate
                 Week Ending 12-12-11

Those channels that increased their shopping conversion rates significantly this week included factory outlets, up from 48 percent to 61 percent, and book stores, up from 45 percent to 52 percent. Additionally, national chain retailers, up from 51 percent to 53 percent, department stores, up from 43 percent to 45 percent, and warehouse clubs, up from 82 percent to 84 percent, are meeting with some success getting their shoppers to buy.

However, according to this week’s report, the average amount spent by shoppers during their brick & mortar buying visits was down five percent from the prior week. This is the first decline seen in the average amount spent after five consecutive weeks of increases.

“There is good news and bad news in these holiday results,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc., “The good news is that the consumer keeps shopping and some categories are seeing nice growth week over week. The bad news is that the post-Thanksgiving lull continues. Retailers need to be more aggressive in luring consumers into stores by using online and by offering more deals. We do see that some stores continued door-busters and it has paid off.”

This past week the online share of buying visits remained stable. This week’s 17.4 percent of online share of buying visits marks the second consecutive week at this record high level.

See Chart: Online Share of Buying Visits
                 Week Ending 12-12-11

While holding steady in their share of buying visits, online spending levels declined from the previous week. The amount spent per online buying visit dropped 18 percent this week down from the previous week which did include Cyber Monday.

A closer look at the Online Share of Buying Visits shows that vertical retailers continue to have more success growing their share of online buying visits. Those retailers are: home specialty stores (up to 11% from 6% the prior week), specialty apparel stores (up to 28% from 25% the prior week) and sporting goods stores (up slightly to 23% from 22% the prior week).

“Online continues to be the bigger story for Holiday 2011,” said Cohen, “There are more people visiting retail sites, but not quite ‘pulling the trigger’ on purchasing as much as they have in prior week’s promotion filled offerings. What I think will be next is more deals offered online that will help to regain the momentum that online has been building. Look for retailers of all kinds to being pulling out stops and start offering more and more deals as we enter the two week countdown to Christmas.”

*The Shopping Activity Weekly Holiday Trends is special report from The NPD Group, Inc.’s Shopping Activity Service. The Shopper Activity Weekly Holiday Trends report will follow the weekly holiday shopping trends over the course of the 2011 holiday retail season and will be released weekly. Shopping Activity Services is a study fielded to 4,750 U.S. consumers daily. It captures brick and mortar shopping behavior and online purchase behavior in categories from Apparel to Entertainment to Groceries to Video Games. In response to demand for more granular data this report has been enhanced as of November 7, 2011 data has been restated to reflect that enhancement. The result is a shift in the actual values however the directionality of the results remains in-tact.

^Shoppers include those consumers shopping in channels including grocery stores and drug stores.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food, home and office, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. For more information, contact us, visit http://www.npd.com/, or follow us Twitter at twitter.com/marshalcohen and twitter.com/npdfashion. Become a fan of Marshal Cohen at http://www.facebook.com/npdmarshalcohen and watch more on NPD’s YouTube channel.

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Beth Boyle
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