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Consumer Shopping Trends near the Holidays, and what your dealership needs to know!

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Consumer Shopping Trends near the Holidays, and what your dealership needs to know!

By Cesar Yepez, Manager Integrated Marketing

An estimated 54.3 billion dollars will be spent by American consumers in the next week, yes that is right, in the next week. In fact, for the past two years, holiday retail growth has been back to pre-recession levels, with 2011 sales peaking to $465 billion, up 4.13 percent from 2010. Let's be honest, for many retail marketers, especially those in the Auto industry, this holiday season is shaping up to be scarier than living without your iPhone for a week.

Last year, 62% of consumers said their holiday plans were affected by the economy, and we are certainly still on shaky ground. This is a year fraught with challenges that will affect consumer confidence, such as weak jobs forecasts and the ongoing debt crisis fallout abroad. BUT despite the gloom and doom, car dealerships should remain optimistic about this holiday season. Research shows that the economy's imprint on consumer buying won't go deep enough to impact holiday shopping.

So what does someone in the auto industry need to do to ring the registers this holiday season? Pay attention to emerging consumer trends and identify opportunities to move the revenue needle.

I recently read a comprehensive white paper that reveals pervasive trends in consumer holiday shopping. The research included reviewing the spending habits of more than 8,500 consumers during the 2011 holiday season and was cross-referenced with data from over 500 digital holiday campaigns that ran during the fourth quarter of last year.

This blog focuses on the top four consumer-spending trends that any retailer can capitalize on to increase revenue this holiday season.

Trend No. 1: Consumers Are Shopping Smarter

Yes, there will be holiday buying this year. In fact, 10.2 percent of consumers with a budget in mind are planning to spend more this year compared to last (up from 6.5 percent in July 2011), according to BIGinsight, a consumer-centric research provider. In today's economy, consumers are more aggressively comparison shopping and conditioned to expect compelling offers, evidenced by the proliferation of deals websites like and the popularity of holiday "doorbusters."

Trend No. 2: The Holidays Are Getting Earlier Each Year

Although late November and December are considered the most critical time to advertise to holiday shoppers, 40 percent of consumer shopping activity begins before Halloween. There is a growing disconnect between when advertisers spend a majority of their dollars and when consumers shop. Starting advertising campaigns earlier in the season reaches the early-bird shopper and often means more competitive rates and less ad clutter. Dealerships need to do effective research to know when is the best time to drive certain sales. THEN after the holidays, get ready to gear up for TAX season!

Trend No. 3: It Will Be a Very Mobile Holiday

Smartphones and tablets have become our on-the-go tools to enhance the holiday shopping experience - from product research to searching store locations and directions. But it's important to note that tablet and smartphone behaviors are very different. Consumers mainly use smartphones as a utility device to aid in shopping, but choose to use tablets to make an actual purchase.

Trend No. 4: Holiday Commerce Is Increasingly E-Commerce

Retailers are reaping the benefits of consumers' love of the selection, values, and convenience of online shopping, especially during the holidays. On average, people plan to do 36 percent of their holiday shopping online, the highest it's been in five years. Research into 500 digital holiday ad campaigns shows a sales lift of up to 650 percent when retailers run their ads during key shopping days. This means your dealership’s website needs to be CURRENT with your latest inventory, incentives and photos readily seen.

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