Tis the Season for Shopping — or Saving

Along with the time-honored traditional holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day – another “holiday” is analyzed by industry experts and anticipated by shoppers around the country: Black Friday.

While the infamous day after Thanksgiving might get the most recognition for impacting retailer’s bottom lines and taking them from the red to the black (hence the name “Black” Friday), the entire holiday shopping season serves as a temperature reading of consumer spending and saving.

This year, direct marketing company Valpak acknowledges through its semi-annual consumer savings report that shoppers are displaying “cautiously optimistic” shopping habits. According to the report, about 75% of shoppers plan to spend the same or even more on holiday purchases, while 22% of shoppers will spend less than they did in 2009.

The company surveyed 1,000 households in the United States and Canada to get the data.

One trend that was common among shoppers was that more than half use coupons on their holiday-related purchases (including gifts, entertainment and travel); about 52% of holiday shoppers told Valpak that they shop with coupons to get the most out of their budgets during the holidays.

Of those that use coupons, 70% clip and save those coupons for toys, games and electronics, while nearly 60% use coupons to cut holiday costs on food, catering and groceries.

Other notable statistics in the report include travel and other big purchase intentions for the holiday season. Comparing this holiday season’s results to an earlier survey in May, the shopping trends are similar in travel (down 4% from the earlier survey), interior home improvement (up 5%), TV/home electronics (up 6%), auto (22% compared to 24% earlier) and exterior home improvement (22% in both surveys).