Retailers can expect a drop in holiday sales this shopping season, according to the second annual PersicopeIQ Retail Intelligence Survey.
The survey, conducted by the customer intelligence firm, indicated that consumers plan to spend less on holiday shopping this year in overall expenditures, in amount per gift and fewer total gifts given.
"Even before the disastrous hurricane, the PeriscopeIQ Retail Intelligence Survey results suggested a weak holiday season, resulting in a one-two punch for retailers who are already dealing with margin erosion due to showrooming, price matching and pre-shopping with mobile and online technologies," said Dr. Pawan Singh, CEO and chief scientist at PeriscopeIQ.
PeriscopeIQ conducts the representative survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers age 18 and older annually on behalf of its major retail clients. The following is among the findings in this year's poll:
Elections won't impact shopping
A large majority of survey respondents, 71 percent, say that Obama's re-election will have no impact on their holiday shopping expenditures.
While retailers and marketers are printing QR codes on ads, point-of-sale items and price tags, the PeriscopeIQ study revealed that nearly three-fifths (59 percent) of shoppers don't know what they are or what they do. Further, less than a fifth, 18 percent, said they had ever used one in a retail environment, although 60 percent own smartphones with built-in scanners or apps.
"QR codes haven't lived up to their potential as a way to access coupons or provide suitable product information, in part due to lack of understanding or because the experience is unsatisfactory," explained Mohamed Latib, COO of PeriscopeIQ. "We believe that QR codes will continue to evolve but the actual 2D code will be transformed by a newer, more efficient technology in the near future."
As many as 40 percent of those polled are shopping online at work during the holidays and year-round. The PeriscopeIQ Survey found that over a quarter of those polled shop more than 15 minutes daily. Half of respondents ages 18-34 spend as much as 20 minutes daily shopping online.
It's the gas
In line with gift consciousness, 40 percent say that current gas pricing will impact how far they will drive for a bargain. Gasoline availability can also be expected to affect the holiday shopping of consumers impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Virtually all respondents (95 percent) stated that "free shipping" is an important factor in deciding from which websites to make their purchases.
"While the number of online shoppers in the survey is about even from last year, bricks and mortar retailers will need to continue to maintain this feature in their arsenals," Dr. Singh explained.
Black Friday more blue
Despite the hoopla about shopping on Black Friday, only a little more than a third (38 percent) will "definitely" or "probably" shop, while 60 percent won't bother battling crowds the day after Thanksgiving.
Smartphones and smarter shoppers
According to the survey, consumers are becoming savvy shoppers, with more than two-fifths (41 percent) pre-shopping online vs. only 27 percent doing so last year. Using their smartphones inside stores, some, but not a huge number, are leveraging their devices to the frustration of retailers.
For example, 33 percent check prices at other stores or at websites. A similar number (36 percent) are using their phones to take pictures of merchandise, presumably for feedback from friends or family, or for comparison shopping.
Fewer than 5 percent of respondents claim to use mobile wallets like Google Wallet or Passbook.
"Like" it or not
Another issue is consumer use of online reviews. Only 24 percent said they go online for reviews of products and services while shopping at a store.
"This indicates that, while consumers rely somewhat on the Internet for information, if only a minority consult reviews while shopping, many buyers aren't getting the full picture on positive and negative aspects of their purchases," Dr. Singh explained.
Black, white and read
Lastly, while much of the PeriscopeIQ survey focuses on electronic shopping and innovative retail technologies, an interesting finding is that when it comes to product information, sales and other shopping information, nearly three-fifths (58 percent) still rely on print magazines and newspapers. This is more than twice the number who look at online reviews while shopping.
Read more about consumer behavior.