Valpak Holiday Savings Report Unwraps New Seasonal Shopping Trends

Survey Uncovers the Where, When, How and the 'What For' of Holiday Spending

LARGO, Fla., Oct. 12, 2011 // PRNewswire // -- As the holiday season approaches, consumers say they're not letting economic worries steal their holiday cheer, according to the Valpak Semi-Annual Consumer Savings Report. The report revealed that nearly all consumers (95 percent) are somewhat or very worried about today's economy, but four out of five (78 percent) say their holiday shopping habits will go unchanged -- and some say they may actually spend a bit more.

Valpak, the 43-year savings and direct marketing leader, released the report in an effort to understand how consumer spending is evolving in our "post-recession" economy. Among the findings, several categories continue to improve in purchase intent, including vacation/travel and home improvement, while auto, medical and home entertainment appears to be trending down. For gift-givers specifically, spending intent is relatively stable, and coupon usage will remain a must-do for more than half (54 percent) of consumers.

"We're seeing value holding its place as a new tradition for most holiday shoppers. This year's holiday savings report indicates consumers are wary, yet they plan to spend roughly the same or more as last year. We also learned today's savvy consumer seeks out good deals year-round -- from everyday errands like oil changes to holiday gift-giving and vacations," said Deanna Willsey, director of corporate communications for Valpak. "We believe that holiday shoppers have learned in recent years to stretch their budgets with coupons and deals on everything from presents to vacations and entertaining at home."

Value in a Winter Wonderland

According to the survey, value-focused festivities are in the works for most holiday shoppers. More than half (54 percent) of consumers say they will use coupons to stretch their dollars when making holiday-related purchases. When asked about how they use coupons, gift-givers say they've used coupons to cut costs on holiday food/catering/groceries (60 percent), electronics (56 percent), toys/games (55 percent) and entertainment (49 percent).

As deals sites continue to grow, nearly one-third of gift-givers (29 percent) say they'll be using these sites for holiday gifts. Another 34 percent say they don't know, which could be explained by the fact that deals aren't known in advance.

"We're seeing more and more consumers using a combination of coupons and 'deals' to buy everything from practical items to special treats, which is one of the driving forces behind the dual offer approach of Valpak.com," says Willsey. "Consumers can find coupons and ecommerce deals for the things they need -- as well as those they want -- all in one place, that is convenient to find, easy to navigate and trusted."

Does the Early Bird Catch the Deals?

New this holiday season, the survey asked shoppers when they shop -- and may have uncovered an October surprise. With store aisles decked out in pumpkins and witches' hats, 29 percent of gift-givers are already shopping for holiday presents in October. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to start holiday shopping in October (21 percent versus 12 percent). One out of four (25 percent) shoppers with children are starting in October, compared to only 16 percent of shoppers without children. Overall, shoppers with kids at home are more likely to shop before December or year-round than those without (89 percent versus 77 percent).

Budget Talks: Who's a Scrooge

When asked specifically about spending on holiday gifts this year, 61 percent of respondents said they expect to spend between $500 and $2,000. According to this year's report, the age-old assumptions that women are the holiday shopping warriors for the family may no longer hold true. Sixty-five percent of men surveyed reported they plan to spend upwards of $1,000 this holiday season, as opposed to only 56 percent of women. Eighty-one percent of men also plan to spend about the same or more than last year, contrasted with 76 percent of women.

Baby It's Cold Outside ...

And gas prices, although dropping in many part of the country, are still not what they used to be. Valpak found that 40 percent of consumers plan on purchasing their holiday gifts online compared to in-store. Of those most likely to shop online, roughly half (47 percent) have two or more children. Regardless of where the final purchase is made, previous Valpak research found that many are researching their purchases in advance online and spending time looking for the best deals.

Shopping Lists -- We've Checked Them Twice

Filling stockings and purchasing Hanukkah gifts are not the only priorities consumers have this holiday season. When asked what, if any, significant purchases they plan to make over the next six months, the top categories included:

Travel and Vacations -- Consumers are twice as likely to spend money on a vacation in the next six months as any other major category. Purchase intentions in this category also rose from last year from 63 percent in 2010 to 68 percent in 2011. Home Improvement -- Products and services for the home, including interior (33 percent) and exterior (22 percent) home improvement was also echoed in Valpak's summer savings report.Auto -- Another 22 percent plan to make a significant purchase towards a new or used vehicle or significant repair to their existing vehicle. Electronics -- Likely on the top of wish lists this year with demand high for the latest smartphones, laptops, 3D TVs and tablets, another 22 percent plan to purchase new electronics.

About the Valpak Semi-Annual Savings Report

Valpak's Consumer Savings Report surveyed more than 1,000 consumers and was conducted by Research Now. Results are within 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The survey was conducted in September 2011 and compared to the same survey in September 2010. Spring/Summer Consumer Savings Reports were conducted in May 2011 and May 2010.

About Valpak®

Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America, is owned and operated by Cox Target Media, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Media Group. With nearly 180 franchises throughout the United States and Canada, The Blue Envelope® delivers savings and value to nearly 40 million households each month. Annually, Valpak will distribute some 20 billion offers inserted in more than 500 million envelopes. Valpak also offers digital solutions with www.Valpak.com®, an online site for local savings, which has nearly 70 million offer views each month, as well as mobile phones, including apps for iPhone®, iPod touch®, Android®, Palm® Pre, Blackberry®, and Microsoft Windows® Phone 7 platforms. For more information, please contact 1-800-676-6878.

About Cox Media Group

Cox Media Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, is an integrated broadcasting, publishing and digital media company that includes the national advertising rep firms of Cox Reps. With $1.8 billion in revenue, the company operations include 15 broadcast television stations and one local cable channel, 86 radio stations, four metro newspapers and more than a dozen non-daily publications, and more than 100 digital services. Additionally, CMG owns and operates Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America. For more information about Cox Media Group, please check us out online at www.coxmediagroup.com.

SOURCE Valpak

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