Retail Execs & Consumers Differ in their Holiday Shopping Plans – BDO Surveys

November 2017

Alana Gold
Bliss Integrated Communication
(646) 386-2924

Consumers plan to focus spending on Amazon, but retailers see big box as top competition

Chicago—Ahead of this year’s holiday season, retailers are working to translate their holiday strategies from the board room to the dressing room. Responses from BDO’s inaugural 2017 Retail CxO Holiday Survey Report indicate that retailers and consumers are in alignment when it comes to their financial expectations for the holiday season, but aren’t quite seeing eye-to-eye on everything.
As consumers are making their lists and checking them twice, they’re on the hunt for convenience and a great deal. As a result, a majority of shoppers (26 percent) say they plan to purchase a majority of their gifts on Amazon, followed by 21 percent of respondents who say they will be concentrating their shopping at big box stores.
Retailers & Consumers Aren’t on the Same (Web) Page
36% of executives view Amazon as their largest competitor for holiday sales 1 in 4 (26%) of consumers plan to do most of their holiday shopping on Amazon
50% of executives see big box retailers as their biggest threat this holiday season Only 21% of consumers plan to do most of their holiday shopping at big box retailers
It’s no secret that Amazon rules the retail roost, and yet 50 percent of retailers identify big box stores as their top competition. Within the c-suite, nearly half (43 percent) of CIOs see Amazon as the main force to be reckoned with—a higher percentage than the other executives.
“This year’s holiday sales may reveal a hard truth. The disconnect between retailers’ expectations and consumers’ actual preferences around online shopping, shipping and disposable income suggests that consumers are evolving faster than the C-suite can adapt,” said Natalie Kotlyar. “Retailers can bridge this gap by improving their data analytics, customer service and offerings tailored to their core demographics.”
These findings are from BDO’s dual surveys of retail executives and consumers. BDO’s Retail CxO Holiday Survey polled a mix of 100 retail CEOs, CFOs and CIOs on their 2017 holiday season forecasts. At the same time, BDO’s inaugural 2017 Consumer Beat Survey asked over 1,000 U.S. consumers about their holiday shopping plans.
Additional findings from the 2017 Retail CxO Holiday Survey Report include:
Retailers predict a 2.2 percent sales increase this year. Though the economy may be in a state of flux due to slow-moving tax reform legislation and a series of natural disasters, retailers foresee a miles sales boost—a slightly less optimistic view than the National Retail Federation’s expected 3.6 to 4.0 percent sales improvement. While retailers are looking up, consumers are staring straight ahead, as more than half (54 percent) plan to spend the same amount of money this year as they did last year.
Price is top-of-mind for consumers and retailers alike. Just as consumers are shopping for the best priced item, retailers are looking over their shoulder to see what their competitors are charging for this year’s must-have gifts. Both groups project sales and discounts to be the most attractive sales trigger, followed by free shipping. Thus, 54 percent of surveyed consumers plan to buy based on sales and discounts, and over two-thirds (68 percent) of retailers say price competition will be most challenging this year.
Cyber Monday outperforms Black Friday in retailers’ predictions. Instead of opening more check-out lanes, some retailers are opting to close their doors completely for Black Friday this year. Those who are staying open project a 1.8 percent sales increase, and retailers across the board expect to see a sales boost of 2.6 percent for Cyber Monday. As consumers increasingly favor a few clicks and the ease of shopping at home, this trend will be something to watch in the coming years.
The 2017 BDO Retail CxO Survey is a national telephone survey conducted by Market Measurement, Inc., an independent market research consulting firm, whose executive interviewers spoke directly with 100 chief executive officers, chief information officers and chief operating officers in September and October 2017. The survey was conducted within a scientifically developed, pure random sample of the nation’s leading retailers. 
BDO’s Consumer Beat Survey was conducted in October 2017 using ORC International's CARAVAN® omnibus among a nationally representative sample of 1,020 U.S. adults age 18 and older. 
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