Survey Shows Majority Prepared, Avoid Black Friday, Embrace Cyber Monday

This blog post was written by Erin Wisneski, Communications Coordinator for Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS).  

The New Year has dawned and, as our Top Ten Trends of 2012 laid out, many exciting developments are o­n the horizon for market research. Before we embrace these changes, however, let’s review the recent hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

holiday shopping market research central new york

In an effort to show the lighter side of market research, in addition to better understanding Central New York’s consumer, Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) conducted a holiday shopping survey. While the results won’t cause revolutionary changes in the way vendors prepare for the holiday season, there are some intriguing insights to consider.

For example, more than three-quarters (76.1%) of shoppers surveyed said they made a list prior to beginning their holiday shopping, and nearly nine-tenths of those (88.6%) “checked it twice.” This indicates most shoppers have a plan prior to beginning their holiday shopping. In addition, 63 percent said they have a holiday gift budget, which more than half (52.2%) said was about the same as the previous year. Those who were planning to spend more and less than the previous year were exactly the same percentage (23.9%).

As for the prepared shoppers, 50 percent of those surveyed said they begin their shopping prior to Thanksgiving and 8.7 percent said they finish before Turkey Day – talk about a stress-free December. Of those who begin after Thanksgiving, more than a quarter of shoppers surveyed (28.3%) said they steer clear of Black Friday while 17.4 percent said they venture out. Surprisingly, when it came to established sales days for in-person shopping (Black Friday and Small Business Saturday), the majority of those surveyed did not shop on those days; 63 percent said no to Black Friday and 65.2 percent said no to Small Business Saturday. On the other hand, a majority (58.8%) of shoppers surveyed did take advantage of Cyber Monday. While 41.3 percent said they shop the day before the holiday, a small percentage (4.3%) procrastinate beginning and ending their shopping Christmas Eve – sounds like risky business! Of course, that all depends on the size of your list.

Nearly a majority (47.8%) of shoppers surveyed said they shop for five to 10 people, while 30.4 percent shop for 11 to 20 people, 13 percent shop for less than five people, and 8.7 percent buy gifts for more than 20 people (that’s quite a list!). When it came to budget specifics, 39.1 percent said they spent between $501 to $1,000 on gifts, while 30.4 percent spent between $101 to $500, 28.3 percent spent more than $1,000, and 2.2 percent spent less than $100. How did they pay for their gifts? A near majority (45.7%) paid for most purchases with a credit card, while 43.4 percent stayed in the black using either cash (13%) or ATM/debit card (30.4%). A small percentage (4.3%) used lay away.

Despite the ease Internet shopping can provide during this hectic season, 63 percent of shoppers surveyed said they did the majority of their shopping in person, while 34.8 percent did the majority online. In fact, nearly all (93.5%) of those surveyed said they do some shopping in person. Of course, this doesn’t mean those surveyed aren’t taking advantage of online shopping as nearly three-quarters (73.9%) said they made online purchases. While only 2.2 percent used mail order catalogs for the majority of their shopping, 32.6 percent also said they did some catalog shopping; 6.5 percent said they did some shopping via telephone, but no one surveyed said the majority of their shopping was conducted in this manner.

Last, but certainly not least, is where shoppers looked for sales and specials – an interesting statistic for vendors. Online research (41.3%) and newspaper circulars (32.6%) blew away other mediums (radio/TV ads – 2.2%, mail flyers – 6.5%, in-store ads – 8.7%, email newsletters and alerts – 6.5%, and other – 2.2%) for promotions, according to shoppers surveyed. Even more interesting is that none of the shoppers surveyed said they were influenced by website banner ads.

While this is just a fun and brief glimpse into the holiday shopping habits of the CNY shopper, it certainly provides food for thought such as the preparations shoppers engage in prior to fulfilling their lists, the means in which vendors reach these shoppers and the “hype” surrounding established shopping days. Keep these statistics in mind when planning for the 2012 holiday season.

To learn more about surveys and market research, contact Sandy Baker at Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) via email ( or phone (315) 635-9802.