Rising Energy Prices Alters Shopping

More than one out of every three online households said rising energy prices would alter their holiday shopping this season, according to The Conference Board and TNS. The Conference Board, a global research and business membership organization, and TNS, a custom research company, produce the Consumer Internet Barometer. The survey covers 10,000 households.

More than half of all consumers will make fewer trips to the mall, while more than one out of every three plan to cut back their spending to combat costs. Some 30% will do more of their holiday shopping online instead of in stores.

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

Among the 30% 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% intend to spend $250 to $499, and the remaining 18% intend to spend $500 or more online. These same consumers will also be shopping in stores, although spending less. Some 64% will spend less than $250 in stores, another 24% intend to spend $250 to $499, and the remaining 13% will spend more than $500.

Among those revving up their Internet shopping to combat energy prices, more than 47% 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% and 39%, respectively, are DVDs/videos/movies and toys and games. More than one-third say they will purchase gift certificates online rather than in stores.

About This Survey:

The Consumer Internet Barometer is based on a quarterly survey of 10,000 households. A unique sample is surveyed each quarter. Return rates average 7%, which ensures highly representative data. Data is weighted as well to reflect the latest U.S. household demographic information. The latest survey was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2005. For more information, please email [email protected] or [email protected]

Source: The Conference Board

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