South African consumers want to avoid thinking about the ‘bad’ economic situation, and plan to enjoy this festive season. This is one of the findings of the Deloitte Year-end Holiday Survey, currently in its 16th edition. The survey sampled planned spending of South African and European consumers over December and extracted data on emerging trends on what influences spending patterns.
Despite consumer confidence levels in the South African economy being at a low (53% of participants surveyed have a pessimistic view of the current state of the economy), holiday spending is estimated to increase by an average of 4.75% year on year.
The bulk of the increased festive spend for this year will go towards:
- socialising (increase of 8.96%),
- gifts (increase of 7.18%),
- and food (increase of 3.7%).
Spend on travel is only expected to increase by 1.63%, bringing the average spend increase down.
Impulse shopping however is not on the cards, as consumers are wary of taking on debt. The year-end holiday survey found that the average price per gift is estimated to be significantly reduced (-23.4%) this year. “This approach highlights a maturity among South African consumers, who want to have fun but at the same time realise that credit and festive debt is a burden they simply don’t want to carry into 2014,” says Ilse du Toit, Retail Specialist at professional services firm, Deloitte.
Influence of the internet
The Deloitte Holiday Survey’s findings on the influence of the internet on consumer spending habits are significant. South African’s spending habits have shifted from relying on gift recommendations, to 55% of respondents who have internet access indicating that they will be changing their habits and ‘researching’ their purchases online, and using brand/supplier sites. However, South African consumers are still ‘testing the waters’ with online shopping – with concerns over payment security and the exchange of personal information discouraging people from shopping online.
Overall, South African shoppers prefer conventional shopping methods – citing enjoyment of the ‘ambience’ and ‘festive spirit’ in stores over the festive season, as a reason. As a result, no increased percentage of online sales are expected, compared to the 2012 year-end holiday survey results.
What’s in the box
The Deloitte Holiday Survey also revealed specific insights on gift trends:
- The bulk of the gift budget will be allocated to children (36%) – who may see up to five gifts in the stocking this year.
- Adults have changed their gift expectations: most expect chocolate in their Christmas stocking, followed by practical gifts including cash, clothes/shoes and books.
- Following on a worldwide trend, smartphones are increasingly being hoped for by South Africans at Christmas, despite the price tag associated with them. The smartphone has become the 6th most desired gift in Europe, and ranks as the 9th most hoped-for gift in South Africa.
“South Africa has had a turbulent 2013, but on a positive note, the ratio of consumers who believe the economic environment will be positive next year has increased. Retailers who acknowledge the evolving needs and demands of their customers will be the ones who have a prosperous new year,” says Rodger George, Consumer Business Industry Leader at professional services firm, Deloitte.
To read the full survey, please download the report: