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    Survey: High Energy Costs Affect Holiday Shopping

    Consumers will make fewer trips to the mall, cut back spending and shop more online.

    NEW YORK -- More than one out of three households with Internet access said rising energy prices would alter their holiday shopping this season, The Conference Board and TNS reported.

    The Consumer Internet Barometer, produced by The Conference Board, a global research and business membership organization, and TNS, a custom research company, surveyed about 10,000 households. The survey found more than half of all consumers will make fewer trips to the mall with more than one out of every three planning to cut back on holiday spending. Some 30 percent will do more of their holiday shopping online.

    "Higher prices are driving more shoppers to the Internet instead of to the mall and changing the way consumers are doing their holiday shopping this year," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "But if energy prices recede, there is no guarantee these consumers will return to the malls. They may very well continue to point, click and ship instead."

    Rising energy costs are changing the way 35 percent of all online consumers shop for the holidays. Consumers with modest earnings (under $35,000) and consumers aged 35 to 54 are the most affected.

    Among modest earners, close to 53 percent say they will make fewer trips to the store. Nearly a third will curtail their spending per person and 27 percent will reduce the number of people on their shopping list. More than 22 percent plan to shop more online to help reduce the impact of rising energy costs. Even among more affluent households, with incomes over $75,000 annually, more than 60 percent plan to make fewer trips to traditional bricks-and-mortar stores than in the past. And, among online households age 35-45, 54 percent plan to make fewer trips to the mall, and 35 percent will shop more online.

    Among the 30 percent of consumers shopping more online to help ease the energy crunch, more than half say they plan to spend less than $250 online, an additional 31 percent intend to spend $250 to $499, and the remaining 18 percent intend to spend $500 or more online. These same consumers will also be shopping in stores, although spending less. Some 64 percent will spend less than $250 in stores, another 24 percent intend to spend $250 to $499, and the remaining 13 percent will spend more than $500.

    Among those revving up their Internet shopping to combat energy prices, more than 47 percent plan to buy books, apparel and shoes online instead of in stores as they would have done in seasons past. Not far behind on the shopping list, at 44 percent and 39 percent, respectively, are DVDs/videos/movies and toys and games. More than one-third say they will purchase gift certificates online rather than in stores.

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