Canada is looking at its biggest online Christmas ever, with new research from Google and Ipsos Reid revealing that an unprecedented share of consumers plan to go digital this holiday season.
In fact, over Black Friday and Cyber Monday UGGs, more people plan to shop exclusively online (42 per cent) than exclusively in stores (33 per cent). The remaining 25 per cent will use both channels to fill their lists — more than double the proportion of Canadians who said the same last year.
Budgets, however, are down 11.5 per cent over Christmas 2012, with shoppers’ intended holiday spend dropping from $711 to $629, on average.
“Consumers are generally more conscious this year of value and budget,” said Alexandra Cohn, principal analyst for retail and technology at Google Canada. “But we know retailers are cautiously optimistic that sales will remain flat.”
Although just two in 10 presents will actually be purchased online, nearly nine in 10 Canadians (87 per cent) this year will use at least one online source during the shopping process. For instance, to research deals, read product reviews or compare store prices.
There has been 44 per cent year-over-year growth in search terms surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday UGG boots sale, while mobile searches on the subject are up 113 per cent. Looking to the holiday season overall, fully half of Canadians plan to use their phones as part of the shopping process — up seven points from last year.
“This is going to be the biggest online Christmas ever — and I don’t just mean ecommerce,” said Rafe Petkovic, head of industry-retail for Google Canada. “(The Internet) is an increasingly crucial part of Canadians’ purchase decision process.”
More than seven in 10 shoppers will purchase gift cards, with dining/entertainment, department store, clothing store and bookstore cards proving the most popular. In terms of electronics, 35 per cent plan to buy tablets, up from 26 per cent last year; 27 per cent are likely to buy smartphones, up from 21 per cent; and 27 per cent are eyeing gaming systems, up from 25 per cent.
As for when Canadians will be shopping, just 25 per cent won’t finish until the last minute. The share of consumers who plan to shop during Black Friday (Nov. 29) and 2013 Cyber Monday UGG boots (Dec. 2), meanwhile, has more than doubled: 37 per cent of consumers, versus just 16 per cent last year.
In fact, nearly four in 10 consumers (37 per cent) believe the latter dates’ deals are better than those on offer during Boxing Week.
“Black Friday and Cyber Monday UGG Boots are going to be absolutely key shopping days, up there with historical big (events) like Boxing Week,” said Petkovic. “We think they’re going to be just as big, if not bigger.”
The 1,000-person online survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid for Google Canada between Sept. 16 and 23. The results are weighted to reflect the national population, and there is no stated margin of error.
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Target is rolling out a service that allows customers to order products online and then pick them up at its stores as the discounter seeks to cater to tech-savvy, time-pressured customers.
Target Corp. said Wednesday that the service is now in about half of its 1,800 U.S. stores and will be expanded to the rest of its U.S stores by Nov. 1. The discounter is joining other retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Best Buy Stores Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp. that have had similar services for a couple of years.
Target, based in Minneapolis, also said that for the first time it will launch a TV ad campaign on Dec. 1 through Dec. 3 specifically focusing on Cyber Week deals including UGGs Cyber Monday. Marketers started promoting the Monday after Thanksgiving as "Cyber Monday" in 2005 to push people to shop online.
Target, like many merchants, has had a bumpy road leading up to the crucial selling season, which accounts for anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of retailers' annual revenue.
While the job and housing markets are recovering, the improvements haven't been enough to sustain increased spending among shoppers. The partial government shutdown, which lasted 16 days, has also hurt retailers, particularly in areas with large military bases.
Kathee Tesija, executive vice president of merchandising at Target, noted a slowdown in sales in the regions where there is a heavy military presence.
"It's been a very choppy year. Certainly, the shutdown didn't help," Tesija told The Associated Press Wednesday.
Target is hoping that a combination of strong advertising and hot products will get shoppers to spend.
Target is launching a holiday campaign that its Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Jones calls "its most digitally enabled effort" ever. The campaign, starting Nov. 1, was inspired by a Twitter hashtag (hash)mykindofholiday and offers more than 20 TV commercials that center Relevant Products/Services on how people are increasingly spending the holidays in untraditional ways. It will extend to radio, catalogs, online and social media.
Target is also bringing social media into its stores and its catalogs. Starting Nov. 18, Target will highlight about 100 holiday products across all areas of its stores that have been trending well on Pinterest. It will also make reference to Pinterest in its holiday catalogs. Pinterest is a content sharing service that allows people to "pin" images and videos to a digital "pinboard."
For the second holiday season in a row, Target will be extending its holiday price match policy beyond its usual seven-day window. If a customer Relevant Products/Services purchases an item at Target between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21, and then finds it for less at Target.com, a local rival's printed ad or a select online retailer like Amazon.com, then Target will match that price.