Most Holiday Shoppers Undeterred by Breaches

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By Krystina Gustafson | @KrystinaGustafs

After the data breach heard 'round the world hit Target (TGT) last year, will shoppers behave any differently this Christmas?

According to a new study by Deloitte, although 42 percent of consumers said they are concerned about their personal data when making in-store purchases, 56 percent will still shop this holiday at retailers that have experienced a data breach.

The research follows similar finding in a report from released earlier this month, which found that 52 percent of major credit and debit card holders either "probably" or "definitely" would shop at a store where shoppers' personal information had been exposed.

That's good news for retailers including Target, Home Depot (HD), Kmart (SHLD) and Michaels (MIK), all of which have fallen victim to a data breach over the past year.

"The consumer's now somewhat desensitized [to breaches]," said Rod Sides, principal at Deloitte Consulting.

This is particularly true among higher-income households, according to the report. It found that only 31 percent of households earning $75,000 or more annually said they were likely to avoid affected stores, compared with 56 percent of those with an annual income of less than $30,000.

Breaches are also more likely to weigh on older shoppers, a study by The National Retail Federation found.

"The younger you are, the more likely you were to grow up with technology, so it's part of your world," said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted NRF's holiday spending survey.

The biggest shift, Sides predicted, is likely to come from consumers' method of payment. Backing up that theory, NRF's study found that about one-fifth of shoppers are "somewhat" or "very likely" to let the breaches affect how they shop or pay for merchandise.

More Gifts Under the Tree

With consumers starting to feel more optimistic about the economy, Deloitte's survey, which polled more than 5,000 consumers, found that total spending is projected to rise 13 percent, to $1,299, per household.

Gifts, in particular, are expected to get a big boost, with Deloitte predicting spending in this category will rise 9 percent to $458. It's also anticipating the biggest year-over-year increase in the total number of gifts that people purchase since 2006-2007. The firm expects the average person will buy about 13 gifts, which despite the gain is still significantly lower than 2007's average of about 23 gifts per person.

Deloitte also predicts non-gift purchases will increase 6 percent to $144. This includes the practice of self-gifting, when shoppers pick up an item or two for themselves when they are out looking for presents. The results contrast NRF's findings, which said that spending on self-gifting is expected to decline from an average $134.77 in 2013, to $126.68.

"I think folks are starting to splurge a little bit more," Sides said.

Webrooming vs. Showrooming

And increasingly, they're doing so online. While 55 percent of respondents said they will shop at malls this year, more than one-quarter said they will shop there less this year. Along those lines, the Internet once again came in as the top place where consumers expect to shop.
That doesn't mean you should count out the store. As consumers have come to expect retailers meet their needs wherever and whenever they want, webrooming -- the practice of browsing online and then buying in store -- is expected to outpace showrooming -- the idea of looking first in store and then buying online.

While 68 percent of shoppers plan to webroom, only about half expect to showroom, according to Deloitte. Although this will likely cause a larger dent in foot traffic -- and limit the chance of impulse purchases -- it should lead to higher conversion rates -- in other words, when customers are in the store, they will likely buy something.

"With pre-shopping available through technology 24 hours a day, retailers can expect a 'ready to buy' shopper entering their store this holiday season," a recent report from ShopperTrak said.

For those who aren't ready to buy, they'll have no problem whipping out their smartphone to help them decide. According to CFI Group, 57 percent of consumers use their smartphones while they're shopping in-store. But somewhat surprisingly, they also rely on good old fashioned communication. According to Deloitte, 48 percent of respondents said that knowledgeable store associates make them more likely to purchase from a particular retailer.

"It was a little bit of a surprise," Sides said, but added that it's part of the edge that physical stores have over the web.

"It's service, it's experience and it's something unique," he said.

10 Shopping Strategies to Rock Black Friday -- and Beyond
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Most Holiday Shoppers Undeterred by Breaches
Two of the best sites to find deals are and, which also offer useful free apps and plenty of advice. DealNews rates deals with Editor's Choice labels. And remember, many stores will be open on Gray Thursday (the new retail-centric name for Thanksgiving), with Macy's (M) opening at 6 p.m. There will also be early-bird and night-owl specials, so you can develop an hour-by-hour itinerary. And remember: Before you buy, check out the return policies.
Last year, Amazon and Newegg had some of the best deals, outflanking Walmart (WMT) and Best Buy (BBY). But when Amazon has a lightning deal, your fingers had better be quick. If you are looking for Apple (AAPL) products, MacMall often has more merchandise in stock and beats Apple to the punch. Don't forget to factor in shipping costs, although many retailers, such as Target (TGT), are advertising free shipping.
Sheets and linens are still cheaper during the traditional January white sales. Toys are often discounted much closer to Christmas. However, if it's a must-have hot toy, you may have to bite the bullet. Holiday decorations will be marked down the most the day after Christmas. Video games and DVDs may be marked down more if you can wait until after Black Friday week. The big Black Friday bargains this year will again likely be TVs and laptops.
After you have researched the sales, do a little advance showrooming. Try on apparel. Check out the doorbusters -- and alternatives if they sell out. Learn a store's floor plan, where to park, where to check out and where to find a restroom.
On the big day itself, remember your objective. Don't waste time and money on things you don't really want. Keep in mind that not everything labeled "sale" is a real bargain. Many stores will have guaranteed blockbusters, items that will definitely be in stock only for a brief amount of time, and you wouldn't want to miss out on these while distracted by tchotchkes.
Hackers and thieves are a serious problem. Try not to flash your debit card too frequently. You may prefer to use cash and stash it somewhere pickpockets can't easily access. As always, store valuables out of sight in between store visits. Be polite and patient so you don't become a holiday crime statistic. And know that despite the graphic footage of violence at Walmart and other stores every year, your odds are encountering such unpleasantness decrease every year as these stores are beefing up staff and staggering doorbusters. After the shopping, check your credit card statements to make sure no one hacked your accounts.
Best Buy will price-match items sold on Amazon. Many retailers have similar policies. You can also compare prices in-store with smartphone apps and websites like Smoopa and CamelCamelCamel. Bring store ads with you, so that if a desired item is cheaper somewhere else and the store you're at has a price matching policy, you're golden.
Sign up for loyalty programs and apps now so you can get promotions in your email or on your phone. Promotions are often released early to loyal shoppers. Target has a Cartwheel app. J.C. Penney (JCP) and Sears (SHLD) have loyalty programs called JCP rewards and Shop Your Way rewards.
Some of the best deals will be on Thanksgiving. has a good updated list on store opening hours, and it may be worth it to rouse yourself from a turkey coma to shop, according to DealNews, which said 29 percent of Editor's Choice deals last year were from Gray Thursday. Following the hustle and bustle of Black Friday comes Small Business Saturday, which since 2010 has promoted local retailers; Super Sunday; and Cyber Monday, which encourages people to shop from their office computers (with the best deals on clothes and shoes, DealNews concluded last year). On Tuesday, feel good knowing you've done all your holiday shopping without breaking the budget or your back.
The best way to stay focused is to dress comfortably, bring a buddy, stay hydrated and be prepared -- for anything. Keep your receipts and remember to ask for gift receipts. If you've done your research, showroomed and your apps, you should have a profitable, pleasant and safe holiday shopping season. And if you have any great tips, leave them in the comments.
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