By Ed Oswald | Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 8:09 pm
While PriceGrabber is known more for its comparison shopping service, from time to time it conducts surveys of its user base to gauge consumer trends. It’s most recent survey took a look at consumer’s holiday shopping habits, and the results are not pretty.
71 percent of online consumers plan to spend less during the holiday, citing inflation and the worsening economy as reasons for doing so. Two-thirds plan to give “practical” gifts, which include cash, gas cards, money, and other necessities.
Only 13 percent seem unfazed, saying they are not changing their spending habits as a result of economic conditions. A quarter are not changing their spending habits but attempting to save money when possible, and the remainder are making a concerted effort to pull back.
Some of the techniques most commonly used are sticking to a budget (53 percent), shopping at discount/outlet stores (43 percent — Walmart stock anyone?), and using shopping comparison websites (37 percent).
Many are staying home to shop: 55 percent expect to do a majority of their holiday purchasing online, up 10 percent from last year.
All this likely means less money will be spent on those big ticket high-tech gifts: HDTVs, Blu-ray players, DVRs, and so forth. That is not good news for the tech sector — which up until recently was actually fairing well when compared to other industries.
I know I have been beating the drum for the bears of Wall Street a lot here lately. However, in an increasingly technology-hungry society, a significant downturn will have significant effects for tech. In the last significant recession back in the early 1990s, the industry was still in its infancy. Now, we’ve got our eggs in a lot more baskets, and a lot more prone to the vagaries of the economy.
(Note: the PriceGrabber survey was taken October 20 to November 10, and surveyed 2,641 respondents through an online survey. It has a margin of error of 2%.)