Hold the Service, Extra Discounts Please

Oct 20, 2004

By George Anderson

Those heeding the biblical call to “do unto others as you would have done unto you” might just be the best gift givers this holiday season, according to a study conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Approximately half of the 7,000 consumers interviewed for the study said they would be buying themselves a gift this holiday season.

Whether buying for themselves or others, the single biggest motivating factor for shoppers this season will be getting a deal. Nearly 42 percent said sale prices were most important in making a purchase.

By comparison, only 4.4 percent said “helpful, knowledgeable customer service” was most important to them.

The largest percentage of shoppers surveyed said they would be doing most of their shopping in discount outlets. Seventy-seven percent said they would shop in discount outlets compared to 53 percent in department stores, 39 percent in specialty stores and 38 percent online. Nearly 47 percent of those surveyed said they would also be doing holiday shopping in grocery stores.

According to the study’s authors, the average shopper will spend $702.03 on the holidays this year. That’s 4.5 percent more than last year. NRF estimates total holiday spending will grow to $219.9 billion this year.

Moderator’s Comments: How can retailers with higher prices (perceived or real) compete in a shopping environment
where getting a deal is the primary motivating factor for consumers?

Although few consumers rate service high on their list for deciding where to shop, BIGresearch’s vice president of strategy, Phil Rist, told the Chicago
, “Sales will bring customers into the store, but great customer service will keep them coming back.”

Of course, you’ve got to get them in the store to demonstrate how great your customer service is.
George Anderson – Moderator

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