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RETAILER AND CONSUMER SURVEYS SHOW POSITIVE SIGNS FOR HOLIDAY

 NEW YORK, Nov. 17 ~PRNewswire~ -- Retailers nationwide have sharpened their operations this holiday season by continuing to tighten expenses, trim and balance inventories, and increase marketing efforts in anticipation that consumers will remain conservative in their spending. The mood is guarded optimism with 66 percent of retailers responding to a Deloitte & Touche survey believing consumers will spend the same or more than last year. Retailers are also continuing to narrowly target advertising messages to customers with vehicles such as direct mail and in-store and point-of-purchase promotions.
 Retailers seem to have taken a reality check on their holiday planning because of the sluggish economy. For the November~December period, 41 percent expect both comparable sales and profits to be flat or up to three percent higher. However, a large minority, about one third, expect better results.
 These are among the findings of a national survey of 1,175 retailers conducted during October by 40 retail practice offices of Deloitte & Touche as part of its annual "Retail Holiday Outlook" studies of retailers' and consumers' attitudes.
 "Although it's too early to draw conclusions, our retailer findings show some positive signs for the holiday season," says Irwin Cohen, national partner and co-chairman of the Trade Retail & Distribution Services Group of Deloitte & Touche. "Retailers have brought their businesses more in line with reality over the last several years, but seem to have heightened expectations for this season as compared to prior years."
 In a related Deloitte & Touche consumer poll of 1,011 shoppers, conducted Nov. 6 to 8 by an independent research firm, the findings indicate that consumers plan to spend $616, on average.
 The majority of consumers plan to do most of their holiday shopping at department and specialty stores (50 percent) and discount or mass merchandiser stores (35 percent) with five percent intending to shop by catalogs.
 Retailers' Perception and What Attracts Consumers
 Customer service is the number one reason retailers believe consumers will choose their stores this holiday season. Consumers, however, indicate service is low on their priority list. The majority (nearly 25 percent) are more attracted by stores offering everyday low prices. Consumers are also equally attracted to stores offering larger selections, convenient location, and price promotions~markdowns (about 17 percent for each reason).
 "It appears that consumers continue to send retailer the message that they like to shop in stores that offer everyday low prices rather than wait for promotions," says Harvey D. Braun, national partner and co-chairman of the Trade Retail & Distribution Services Group of Deloitte & Touche. "Although our survey indicates customer service is not a high priority for consumers, this seems at odds with conventional thinking about the subject."
 Other reasons the majority or retailer believe holiday shoppers will be attracted to their stores are price promotions~markdowns and better quality merchandise.
 Holiday Spending Plans by Gender and Age Groups
 When asked the amount of money they plan to spend this holiday season, the median for women is $580 and $653 for men. Spending plans by age groups for both men and women are as follows:
 -- 18 to 24 year olds -- $569
 -- 25 to 34 year olds -- $626
 -- 35 to 49 year olds -- $661
 -- 50 to 64 year olds -- $694
 -- 65 years and older -- $480
 Regionally, consumers' holiday spending plans do not vary significantly. Findings show consumers in the Midwest and West will spend slightly more (6 percent) than consumers in the Northeast and South.
 Retailers' and Consumers' Economic Outlooks for 1993
 Retailers are not giving a strong vote of confidence for the economic outlook in 1993. The majority believe it will not improve and their attitude is unchanged from last year.
 In retailers' minds the most important initiative the new administration can do over the next 18 months to help spur retail sales is to boost consumer confidence. Nearly 60 percent rank this action number one.
 They are concerned, too, about the inflation rate; 52 percent believe it will he higher this time next year.
 In their own neighborhoods, the major issues that continue to plague retailers are local economic conditions (67 percent), sagging consumer confidence (63 percent), and major industry lay-offs (45 percent).
 Consumers are more optimistic about the economic outlook. In fact, their post-Election Day attitudes are cheerier than when asked the same question before the election; 12 percent more consumers (45 percent) polled post-election believe the economy will improve next year.
 Optimistic attitudes are especially evident among the $20,000 to $30,000 income group (50 percent versus 37 percent pre-election) and among those 65 years and older (63 percent compared to 47 percent pre-election). Consumers earning $40,000-plus are not quite as upbeat -- their optimism slid a few points following the election (40 percent).
 By regions, the more hopeful economic outlooks, post-election, are among consumers in the Northeast (50 percent compared with 40 percent pre-election) and the West (43 percent, up form 34 percent). Prior to the election, consumers in the Midwest and South expressed the most optimism.
 About the Methodologies
 The retailer survey by the Trade Retail & Distribution Services Group of Deloitte & Touche was conducted throughout October 1992 by the firm's 40 retail practice office locations nationwide. The mail survey of 1,175 respondents represent a broad sampling of retail executives in general merchandise, apparel, furnishings, and other retail categories. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
 The Deloitte & Touche post-Election Day consumer poll, conducted by an independent research company, was done by telephone from Nov. 6 to Nov. 8, 1992. A total of 1,011 interviews were completed; 524 with female adults and 487 with male adults. The pre-election day consumer poll was conducted by the same research company, via telephone, from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25, 1992. A total of 1,012 interviews were completed; 527 with female adults and 485 with male adults. The polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
 About Deloitte & Touche
 Deloitte & Touche, one of the nation's largest professional services firms, provides accounting and auditing, tax, and management consulting services through 15,300 people in offices in more than 100 U.S. cities. The firm is part of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu International, a global leader in professional services with 56,000 people in 108 countries.
 The Trade Retail & Distribution Services Group of Deloitte & Touche is the profession's largest practice dedicated exclusively to serving the needs of retailers and related industries.
 -0- 11~17~92
 ~CONTACT: Sally Robbins of Deloitte & Touche, 212-492-2162~


CO: Deloitte & Touche ST: New York IN: REA SU: ECO

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