More Americans are ready to open their wallets a little bit wider for the holiday shopping season, a positive sign for retailers as consumer spending comes off a sluggish start to the fall months.
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A new survey from Accenture (NYSE:ACN) shows that 40% of U.S. consumers plan to spend more on holiday gifts this year compared to 2014. A year ago, when holiday retail sales climbed 4%, just 25% expected to increase their holiday budget.
Online shopping appears to be the top choice. Accenture said 54% of consumers prefer to use a brick-and-mortar retailer’s website, and 65% will employ “showrooming”—the practice of checking items in stores before purchasing online. However, 69% also plan to go online before making a purchase at the store.
The Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey, which used an online poll with a sample of 1,537 U.S. consumers, said half of respondents are likely to get a head start on Black Friday and shop on Thanksgiving Day, while 28% believe the time should be spent with family.
Retailers are hoping to see a rosier picture in the final two months of the year. The U.S. Commerce Department revealed last week that personal spending ticked just 0.1% higher in September, the slowest pace since January. The report coincided with weaker job growth in recent months. Meanwhile, consumer confidence rebounded less than expected at the end of October.
The National Retail Federation believes total holiday sales will grow at a smaller clip in November and December compared to last year. The industry trade group forecasted a 3.7% increase to $630.5 billion.
According to a NRF survey, average spending per person is still expected to reach $805.65, slightly higher than the 2014 holiday season ($802.45).
Holiday shopping is a critical period for retailers, accounting for 19% of annual sales based on the NRF’s estimates.