Holiday spending: More of the same or Back in the Game?


Retailers anxious about the upcoming holiday shopping season may have reason for hope, according to consumer insights released by Acxiom Corp. in its 2009 Retail Consumer Dynamics Study. The report revisits nine unique consumer segments first studied in the Fall of 2008 and finds a growing confidence in the economy among nearly all consumers. Eight of the segments, reflecting 86.2% of U.S. households, indicate they plan to spend the same or modestly more than they did a year ago. Four of the nine segments report less restraint in their future spending.

Key findings indicate:
•Potential Rebounders, recognized in Acxiom’s 2008 study as the most likely to rebound first, still appear to be the most likely to be ahead of the curve in economic recovery. This group includes:
◦Savvy Spenders (mostly affluent, married)
◦Protecting the Dream (middle income, city, young adult, married)
◦It’s My Life (affluent younger adults, many single with no kids)

•Protecting the Dream consumers, despite being the most income-constrained of the three Potential Rebounders, show slight signs of loosening spending, based on recent grocery purchases and dining out choices. They show a preference for department or specialty stores over discounters for women’s clothing, electronics and groceries.

•Status Quo segments are a bit mixed but share in both a positive perspective of the economy and the same or less restraint on managing personal finances. The most likely of these segments to increase future spending are:

◦Been There, Done That (mostly older, low-to-middle income, rural with children)
◦Eye on Essentials (lower middle class, city, mixed young/mature adults)
•Full Spend Ahead consumers (affluent, mature, married, no kids) report some future restraint in spending, perhaps because they were slower to respond to economic issues in the first place.

“As the 2009 holiday season approaches, retailers who act quickly may benefit from understanding how consumers are responding today versus a year ago,” said Harold. “Retailers still have time to take advantage of spending intentions, categories of most interest, preferences for retailer type and other aspects of consumer shopping behavior to make adjustments to their marketing efforts.”