Turmoil, Deals and Sociability
As we examine data from the first quarter of 2011, the gap between online purchasers and the general public continues to widen, with online purchasers growing more optimistic — which could be a sign of another healthy holiday season. So while it's too early to tell how the 2011 holiday season will play out, the growing positive gap for online shoppers compared to the general public indicates that any increase in online traffic compared to last year is a positive sign for the upcoming buying season.
Here are three predictions for the upcoming holiday season:
Prediction No. 1: Affluent consumers are now budget-conscious shoppers. Comparing the 2009 holiday season vs. the 2010 holiday season, the fastest-growing categories of sites in our Retail 500 Index — which includes the top 500 visited online retail sites — were comparison shopping sites, daily-deal sites and websites for large multichannel retailers.
Our Shopping and Classifieds category also indicated that several newcomers to the comparison shopping industry appeared on the scene between the last two holiday seasons. Price-comparison sites and 2010 internet phenoms Groupon and LivingSocial (plus the hundreds of group coupon knockoffs) represent a continuing consumer trend to commoditize products and services and push the discounting envelope to encourage trial through 50 percent off deals.
As the practice of deep discounting and using the web to find the best possible deal gains momentum, one trend continues to persist: The demographic that indexes the highest for online bargains continues to be the most affluent segments of our society. In fact, when you compare visits to retail coupon sites and discount code aggregators, there's a strong positive correlation. Apparently the more you make, the more you strive to save online. Affluent Experian Mosaic segments like Upscale America and Affluent Suburbia represented the largest share of visitors to the Retail 500 Index for the 2010 holiday season, further reinforcing this trend.