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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Holiday Shopping in New Jersey: Glee or Dread?

Monday, December 16, 2013

1-in-10 went out on T-Day; 4-in-10 will purchase much online

The season of cheer is also the season of dread for many holiday shoppers in New Jersey.  The latest Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll  finds that nearly 4-in-10 Garden State residents intend to do much of their holiday shopping online this year, although 1-in-4 still headed out to the stores during the two-day Thanksgiving/Black Friday kick-off.

Just under half (46%) of New Jersey residents report that they dread the idea of holiday shopping compared to 41% who say they actually look forward to it.  Men are more likely to dread it (49%) rather than look forward to it (37%).  Women are evenly split - 44% dread to 44% look forward.  A majority of younger adults look forward to holiday shopping (57% of those under 35), while a majority of those over 35 anticipate it with dread (54% of those age 35 to 54 and 51% of those age 55 and older).  Shoppers who ventured out on Black Friday, though, take a decidedly positive view of holiday shopping - with 59% of these shoppers saying they look forward to the experience.

Black Friday shoppers enjoyed a bonus this year, with many stores opening on Thanksgiving Day as well.  Nearly 1-in-10 New Jerseyans took advantage of the Turkey Day openings.  In total, about 1-in-4 Garden State residents went out on at least one of these two holiday shopping kick-off days.  Specifically, 15% went shopping just on Black Friday, 3% went out just on Thanksgiving, and 6% shopped on both days.  These kick-off shoppers are more likely to be younger, including 38% of New Jersey adults under age 35 and 29% of those age 35 to 54, compared to just 9% of those age 55 and older.  Men (28%) were slightly more likely than women (22%) to venture out to the stores on one of these two days.  There are no significant differences by family income in who went out to shop during the season's unofficial kick-off.

Overall, just 4-in-10 New Jerseyans think that the Black Friday deals are better than the prices they find at other times during the holiday season, including 15% who say they are a lot better and 25% who say they are a little better.  Another 6% believe the Black Friday prices are actually worse than at others times, and 44% say they are about the same.  Unsurprisingly, Black Friday shoppers (59%) are more likely than other holiday shoppers (37%) to say that these deals are better.  Men (50%) are also significantly more likely than women (31%) to feel that the best deals can be found on Black Friday.  Interestingly, not all of New Jersey's Black Friday shoppers feel they are getting the best deals on those days.  35% say the prices are about average and 4% say the deals are actually worse than at other times during the holidays.

 "Black Friday shoppers are the marathoners of holiday shopping.  They may get an early start but many leave the bulk of their holiday shopping until the very end.  It seems they don't want to miss any opportunity to shop," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Overall, 39% of New Jerseyans report that they leave most of their holiday shopping until the final ten days before Christmas while 21% try to wrap up their gift buying by mid-December.  Another 27% already had most of their holiday shopping done at the beginning of the month.  About 1-in-10 (11%) report that they are not shopping for gifts this season at all.  Among Black Friday shoppers, half (50%) say that they won't get most of their shopping done until the last ten days of the season.  The one group that is more likely to have tackled most of their gift list by early December are those who do most of their holiday shopping online rather than in stores (46%).

Overall, 16% of New Jerseyans say they will do all or most of their holiday shopping online this year.  Another 22% will do about half of it online and 22% will do some shopping online.  Another 38% will not shop online for any holiday gifts this year.  Those who will do at least half of their holiday shopping online include 47% of those under age 35, 43% of those age 35 to 54, and 27% of those age 55 and older.  There is a wide income disparity as well, with 51% of those earning over $100,000 and 45% of those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 doing at least half of their holiday shopping online, compared to just 26% of those earning under $50,000 who will do the same.

"It was not very long ago when online shopping was a relatively new phenomenon that would require changes in how consumers search for, evaluate, and purchase items.  For many younger consumers, the online world is nothing new to them, so they do not face the need to change many of their prior purchasing behaviors.  Quite simply, to these consumers, online purchasing has been the norm forever," said Dr. Joseph Rocereto, Associate Professor of Marketing at Monmouth University's Leon Hess Business School.

In case you were wondering, Black Friday shoppers (48%) are in fact more likely than other shoppers (39%) to do at least half of their holiday shopping online.  "Folks who go out to stores on Black Friday are über-shoppers, plain and simple," said poll director Murray.

Convenience leads the list about why people shop online - 78% say convenience is a major reason why they shop online.  About half say that online vendors having better selections (51%) and better prices (48%) are major reasons why they shop online.

The poll also found that one-third of New Jerseyans use a smart phone or mobile device when they are shopping in a store to see if other stores or online merchants have better deals.  This includes 7% who say they do this all the time, 8% who do this most of the time, and 21% who do this some of the time while shopping.  Younger adults under age 35 (60%) are the most likely group to use the internet for comparison shopping while in a store, followed by 39% of those age 35 to 54.  Only 13% of those age 55 and older do the same.

The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll  was conducted by telephone with 802 New Jersey adults from December 4 to 8, 2013.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Asbury Park Press and its sister publications (Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.        Is holiday shopping something you generally look forward to or something you generally dread?

2.        Do you already have most of your holiday shopping done, will you get most of it done by December 15, or will you get most of it done in the 10 days before Christmas?

3.        Not counting online shopping, did you go out to any stores for holiday shopping either on Thanksgiving Day or on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving?  [If YES: Which day?]

4.        Do you think the “Black Friday” deals are better, worse, or the same as the deals you can get in stores at other times during the holiday season?  [If BETTER:  Is that a lot or a little better?]

5.        When you are shopping in a store, how often do you use a smart phone or mobile device to see if other stores or online merchants have better deals – all the time, most of the time, some of the time, or never?

6.        How much of your holiday shopping this year do you plan to do ONLINE – all of it, most of it, about half, less than half, or none of it?

 [The following questions were asked only of people who plan to shop online this holiday season: moe=+/-4.5%]

7.        Please tell me if each of the following is a major reason, minor reason, or not a reason you shop online?  [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

        Online prices are better

        There is a better selection online

        It is more convenient


The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from December 4 to 8, 2013 with a statewide random sample of 802 adult residents, including 602 contacted via live interview on a landline telephone and 200 via live interview on a cell phone.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues that affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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