LARGO — It’s not yet Halloween, but nearly a-third of consumers are zipping past ghosts and goblins to get into the Christmas spirit. This shop-ahead attitude is just one of several behavior-adjustments being made in the “post-recession” economy, according to a survey requested by a Florida-based firm that specializes in direct marketing.
The Valpak Semi-Annual Consumer Savings Report surveyed more than a thousand consumers and was conducted by Research Now. Valpak is based in Largo and is known for distributing billions of coupons inserted into multiple-millions of its distinctive blue envelopes.
Here is some of what the survey found:
- 29 percent of gift-givers are already shopping for holiday presents.
- Women are nearly twice as likely as men to start holiday shopping in October (21 percent vs. 12 percent).
- 25 percent of shoppers who have children are starting in October, compared to only 16 percent of shoppers who don’t have children.
- Shoppers with kids at home are more likely to shop before December or year-round than those without (89 percent vs. 77 percent).
- More than half (54 percent) of consumers plan to use coupons in conjunction with their purchases.
In addition to the shopping-early trend, value-shopping is in the forefront of consumers’ minds.
“We’re seeing value holding its place as a new tradition for most holiday shoppers,” said Deanna Willsey, director of corporate communications for Valpak. “This year’s holiday savings report indicates consumers are wary, yet they plan to spend roughly the same or more as last year.”
The survey also suggested value-shopping isn’t limited to the holidays.
“We also learned today’s savvy consumer seeks out good deals year-round – from everyday errands like oil changes to holiday gift-giving and vacations,” said Valpak’s Willsey. “We believe that holiday shoppers have learned in recent years to stretch their budgets with coupons and deals on everything from presents to vacations and entertaining at home.”
When asked specifically about spending on holiday gifts, here’s what respondents said:
- 61 percent expect to spend between $500 and $2,000.
- 65 percent of men surveyed reported they plan to spend upwards of $1,000, as opposed to 56 percent of women.
- 81 percent of men plan to spend about the same or more than last year, contrasted with 76 percent of women.
In addition to spending trends, how respondents shop is also shifting, possibly a result of gas prices:
- 40 percent of consumers plan on purchasing holiday gifts online compared to in-store.
- Of those most likely to shop online, roughly half (47 percent) have two or more children.
Regardless of where the final purchase is made, previous Valpak research found that many are researching their purchases in advance online and spending time looking for the best deals.
Valpak itself has taken this online shopping trend to heart: The firm recently launched a newly redesigned Website developed using data from 11 different consumer research projects, including more than 11,000 consumer interviews.
“Valpak.com offers a fundamental change of the way consumers interact with Valpak digital both on the Web and mobile Web,” said Michael Vivio, President of Cox Target Media, Inc., provider of Valpak. “This new site is a great complement to our Valpak envelope because consumers can easily access great savings deals wherever they are – at home, online or on their phone.”
According to its developers, the redesign is “cleaner and easier to navigate, incorporates the latest thinking in geo-location, social sharing, back-end technology, search engine optimization and site navigation to create an optimal consumer experience.”
Since it became one of the first online coupon sites in 1994, Valpak.com has undergone eight renovations.
But back to the survey: When asked what, if any, significant purchases they plan to make over the next six months, here’s what consumers said:
Travel and Vacations: Consumers are twice as likely to spend money on a vacation in the next six months as any other major category. Purchase intentions in this category also rose from last year from 63 percent in 2010 to 68 percent in 2011.
Home Improvement: Products and services for the home, including interior (33 percent) and exterior (22 percent), was also echoed in Valpak’s summer savings report.
Auto: Another 22 percent plan to make a significant purchase towards a new or used vehicle or significant repair to their existing vehicle.
Electronics: Likely on the top of wish lists this year with demand high for the latest smartphones, laptops, 3D TVs and tablets, another 22 percent plan to purchase new electronics.
ABOUT: Valpak’s Consumer Savings Report surveyed more than 1,000 consumers and was conducted by Research Now (RN). The survey was conducted in September 2011 and compared to the same survey in September 2010. Spring/Summer Consumer Savings Reports were conducted in May 2011 and May 2010. Results are within 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.