Down Economy Makes for Interesting Shopping Season for Braintree Retailers
Surveys and anecdotal evidence show holiday shopping strong this year despite economy, with an uptick in online shopping and special deals.
Last-minute holiday shoppers are flocking to Braintree's South Shore Plaza, continuing to boost both retail store and online shopping numbers despite the economic downturn.
A new ComScore survey shows that online shopping has seen a 12 percent increase in comparison to 2009, while retail stores have seen a 3 percent increase. With money on the minds of most shoppers, many hope that big shopping deals will outweigh uncertainty among consumers in the current economy.
"Over the course of the year, I've heard the economy is going up, but people are still
getting laid off, so I hope the two have offset each other," said holiday shopper Will Mullin, of Plymouth.
With many retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon.com making a big push early this holiday season, free shipping deals and discounts have headlined holiday shopping throughout December.
"Many stores have rolled out the red carpet so to speak, in terms of coupons and discounts that were given out for Black Friday, and the rest of the holiday season," said Kadeem Jeudy, a sales representative at the clothing store Express at the plaza. "I think the competition between stores for the best deals can only help consumers."
Jeudy also pointed to the importance of online shopping this holiday season. "Cyber
Monday was a big deal and the sales of online shopping early and in the middle of the season are often indicative as to whether or not the season will be successful."
An estimated 50 percent of holiday shoppers will place some or all of their holiday
shopping orders online.
"Holiday discounts and advertisements were earlier than ever this year, and many for free shipping," said Alyssa Gilbert of Guilford, CT, who is also a student at Stonehill College in Easton. "I prefer shopping online because the deals are often better and I don't like dealing with the crowds."
As online shopping has become increasingly popular, one of the biggest selling points has been free shipping. More than half of this year's online shoppers took advantage of free shipping offers, according to ComScore, a leading marketing research company. The increase in online shopping may be accredited in part to the rise in the use of smart phones and mobile devices as modes of shopping and online research.
An International Data Corporation (IDC) survey of more than 1,000 American consumers shows that mobile devices are expected to give consumers "greater advantage as they engage retailers."
IDC's study followed another survey performed by Yahoo! that claims two-thirds of all mobile phone users will be using those devices this year while they shop. They plan to "search for price and product information" in stores, as well as search
for "merchandise availability," according to the IDC. About 45 percent of respondents said that they also plan to compare pricing of certain products in other stores in the area, while 32 percent said they will browse reviews from their mobile device.
"We had great Black Friday numbers this year and the entire Thanksgiving weekend was busy," said Elvira Volpe, a customer service staff member at Forever 21. "We still don't have official numbers on profits for stores so far this season, but it seems online shopping has been very consistent."
No matter which method of shopping suits people best, for many shopping habits never change. "I usually shop the week of, or even few days before Christmas," said Joshua Lantos of Norton. "Ironically, by that time, there aren't too many more deals to be had."
After a record $900 million in online shopping last week, both retailers and economists are hoping that a last-minute push for green will help keep the economy out of the red.
Alex Coppola is a student at Stonehill College.