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2012 holiday shopping outlook

A Purdue expert says you don’t have to wait for Black Friday to get a good deal on your holiday shopping.

Richard Feinberg, professor of Consumer Science and Retailing, says there already are sales online comparable to what you’ll see the day after Thanksgiving.

“While the traditional starting pistol has been Friday morning at four in the morning for many retailers, most of these retailers have moved up the starting pistol to Thursday evening,” he says. “But there are going to be Black Friday-like sales, started already, just going to increase this holiday season, and after.”

Feinberg predicts retail sales will be up about 4.5% compared to last year. He says that’s a little lower than the nearly 6% bump stores experienced a year ago.

The reason many retailers are kicking off their Black Friday effort Thursday night – or in some cases, Thursday morning, is peer pressure

“Once you reach a tipping point and there are a certain number of retailers who are doing something on Thanksgiving, they’re all going to,” Feinberg says. “Because they simple can’t afford to wait. They simply cannot afford to have your $10 go to the competitor. You just can’t take a chance and we’ve reached that point.”

Online shopping continues to play a greater role during the holiday retail season. Feinberg says internet sales have steadily increased 10-15% each of the past several years, and will do so again this year. However, he says it still only makes-up about 10% of all holiday sales.

Feinberg’s research also shows smartphone shopping is increasing too.

“Apps are playing a role in it. The easier a retailer makes it for a consumer to use their mobile device, the more likely it is they will use the mobile device,” he says. “And this year, as you reach the front door, they’re going to tell you they have an app.”

He says some malls are pushing coupons to consumers on their smartphones as they approach the parking lot.

And, gift cards will remain the number one gift category. Feinberg says consumers see that as a better option than giving cash.


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