Study: How Will (Female) Shoppers Behave This Holiday Season?

It’s the question that’s dogged every marketer for the past twelve months.

The quarterly “Why She Buys” shopping index, created by female-centric firm Lippe Taylor and influencer marketing company SheSpeaks, reached some revealing if not entirely unexpected holiday season conclusions after surveying more than 3,000 American women. A few of the big numbers:

  • 43% of women are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about their financial situations, up 19% from the prior year
  • 48% of women say they will spend less during the holiday season than last year, which is a 30% increase from the prior year
  • Women are equally likely to shop on Black Friday (50%) and Small Biz Saturday (33%) when compared to last year, while only 16% say they will shop on Thanksgiving

So they’re going to be shopping on Black Friday, protests be damned—but they’re only in it for the sales.

This isn’t a huge shocker, but the fact that the numbers have increased this year is worth noting.

Now what about digital?

It appears that Cyber Monday has won the marketing game:

  • 57% of respondents plan to do their shopping then
  • 42% plan to split their buys evenly between digital and in-person

What will they use to do it? Apps and social. 61% plan to use apps, and among them the most popular category is—surprise, surprise—coupon apps. Retailer-specific apps rank a close second (41% to 38%).

Facebook and Amazon Wish Lists are the most popular social tools at 49% and 42%.

The most surprising statistic concerns #3 Pinterest: fewer women (29% to 36%) say they’ll will use the network to research gifts this year. At the same time, 60% of women say they’ll use it to get new ideas for gifts. Has the network’s research value diminished?

Conclusion: as much as we say we dislike the over-commercialization of the holiday season, the “Black Friday creep” strategy seems to be working in general, if not on Thanksgiving Day. Why? Because the ever-present economic squeeze increases the desperate urge to find deals.

The study’s organizers have some comments of their own. From Aliza Freud of SheSpeaks:

“This year advertisers are contending with the combination of a shorter window between Thanksgiving and Christmas, lingering uncertainty due to recent government shutdown and as our study indicates, a higher percentage of people saying they will spend less this year.”

And firm CEO Maureen Lippe:

“I find it interesting that only 16% of women say they plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day. This would seem to go against the retail trend to open stores before Black Friday. It’s possible consumers don’t want to feel pressured to shop on the actual Thanksgiving holiday (which may be a retailing nightmare) when they would rather spend time with their families.”

Now some just-for-fun findings: 32% of women say extended family members give the worst gifts. What might some of those worst gifts be?

  • Paper napkins and plates
  • Doorknobs
  • Candy bars
  • Expired food
  • Hotel shampoo and conditioner
  • Toilet seat
  • Belly button brush

Two questions: how does one brush one’s belly button? And what, no new garage door openers?