Thursday, November 14, 2013

How are Charlotte's holiday shoppers special?

We use smart phones more than the national average, have higher participation in loyalty programs and a greater focus on clothing: Those are some of the key findings in a Deloitte report on what to expect from Charlotte's holiday shoppers this year.

For the first time this year, Deloitte has broken out its shopper data specifically for the Charlotte region, instead of just the Southeast as a whole. And some of the findings were unexpected. For example, 70 percent of Charlotte-area residents have a smart phone. That's above the national average of 61 percent. And most of those people plan to use their smart phone to shop.

"I think a lot of times being southern based you don't get a lot of credit for use of technology as you would in Silicon Valley," said Rod Sides, Charlotte-based retail and distribution practice lead for Deloitte. He credits shifting demographics and a relatively young population for the high smart phone rate.

The consulting company surveyed 505 Charlotte-area consumers for its report. Deloitte is forecasting a 4.5 percent increase in sales this holiday season compared to last year.

Here are some more details from Deloitte's findings:

  • Charlotte shoppers ranked clothing as their top gift item, and Charlotte customers were 9 percentage points more likely to say they plan to buy clothing as a gift than consumers elsewhere. Nationwide, clothing was down 9 percent as a gift item in the Deloitte survey. "Seeing that be such a regional difference is important" for retailers to know, Sides said.
  • Twice as many Charlotteans - 34 percent - are enrolled in three or more retailer loyalty programs than the national average. "I think the Southern consumer is looking for that kind of connection," sides said.
  • In Charlotte, 44 percent of consumers own a tablet device, higher than the 38 percent national average. Three quarters of tablet owners said they plan to use their tablet for holiday shopping.
  • Charlotte consumers said they plan to buy an average of 16 gifts, above the national average of 13 gifts. "The Charlotte consumer is pretty generous," said Sides.
And here's Sides' take on the movement towards earlier Thanksgiving day openings for so-called "Black Friday" sales.

"I think they'll end up cannibalizing" sales from later in the season, he said. "You're just moving demand up in the day.

"I think at some point there will be a little backlash against the attack on Thanksgiving," he said.