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NRF: Macy's vs. Wal-Mart Shopper

Macy's shoppers are feeling more confident about the economy than regular Wal-Mart shoppers — and will spend 44% more this holiday season, according to research presented last week by the National Retail Federation.

The data was compiled for NRF by BIGresearch, which polls regularly for the organization.

BIGresearch found regular Wal-Mart shoppers plan to spend about $764.09 this year. That's slightly less than the average consumer's budget of $791.10, and well below the regular Macy's shopper's holiday kitty of $1,102.15.

"The real issue we're seeing this year between both groups is still the impact of gas prices," said Phil Rist, vp of BIGresearch. "Even though gas prices are down, they're still high and still fluctuating."

Regular Wal-Mart shoppers have an average household income of $48,500, slightly below the $54,600 national average. They are compensating for gas prices by taking fewer shopping trips (49.5%), shopping closer to home (48.2%) and shopping sales more often (42.1%). Their top payment method this season will be a debit card (42.3%).

Regular Macy's shoppers will say "charge it," with 46.6% of them planning to buy on credit this season.

On the whole, consumers interviewed by BIGresearch plan to do slightly less shopping at discount this year and slightly more at department stores and specialty shops, Rist said.

"Last year, department stores lost shoppers to discount because of $3 gas and news of high heating prices," he added. "Some of the middle consumers are feeling better and going back where they came from."

Rist noted that department stores also have sharpened up their marketing to younger groups, improved their fashion and are becoming seen as a destination for this segment. That, coupled with the channel's promotional stance during the holidays, makes the department store the venue with "the best merchandise at the best price."

He predicted Penneys and Macy's will see more shoppers this year than last, with Kohl's also experiencing an uptick.

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