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SA shoppers ready to spend more this Xmas

Nov 18 2014 13:55

Cape Town - Food and mainstream clothing are top Christmas shopping items in SA, along with alcohol - an item which is more likely to be at the bottom of US shoppers' lists.

Price is also very important, as evidenced by the popularity of discount stores.

A substantial proportion of SA's middle and upper income consumers intend to spend more than last year in spite of the slowing economy, according to the Acentric Christmas Shopping Intentions Survey 2014, a survey of over 400 South African shoppers.

The survey is representative of middle and upper income South Africans in terms of age, gender, race and household income. According to the survey, shoppers have a more practical focus,  in contrast to more affluent US shoppers who have a greater luxury and technology focus.

SA's middle and upper income groups remain unaffected by signs of a worsening economic outlook, with approximately 34% intent on spending more this year. In contrast, only 26% intend on spending less. The majority, however, intend on spending about the same as the previous year (38%).

Rise in online shopping

What may be surprising to some is that online shopping is now almost equal in importance to conventional distribution channels.

"Almost 31% intend on doing at least some of their shopping online this year, making online almost equal to mainstream stores (36%) in terms of purchase intentions within the middle and upper income brackets.

While these consumers may only buy a small number of items online and still complete the rest of their shopping in conventional brick and mortar stores, the fact that so many are being exposed to the online experience means greater opportunity for future growth as consumers learn to trust and enjoy online shopping." said Craig Kolb MD of Acentric Marketing Research.

In terms of the types of items that shoppers are interested in purchasing, food leads the way with 55% intending to purchase Christmas related foods, followed by toys (48%) and mainstream clothing & accessories (41%).

"The results imply a focus on essentials rather than luxuries. Shoppers seem to view utility as a key guiding principle behind their purchases in most cases. The popularity of gift cards also indicates a practical focus, with 35% intending on purchasing gift cards rather than selecting a potentially unwanted gift. It seems the stigma around gift cards has lifted somewhat. However, we still lag the US, where gift cards are preferred over material gifts, particularly amongst affluent consumers. I am also pleased to note that 25% intend on purchasing books, which should be a welcome boost to our relatively small publishing industry." said Kolb.

Shopping lists

Of interest to retailers may be the fact that only 4% of shoppers claim to have already completed their Christmas purchases. "Given that the survey ran early November, one would expect more shopping to have been completed already. Intentions to purchase and the types of products vary by demographic segment. For instance, going forward we can expect most of the spend to come from younger shoppers, as those over 50 are far less likely to purchase in the coming weeks." said Kolb.

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retail  |  ecommerce

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