U.S. Holiday Shoppers: Undeterred by High Gas Prices but Concerned About Chinese-Made Goods Survey Finds

NEW YORK; Nov. 19, 2007 – More than four in 10 U.S. consumers said they plan to shop on the day after Thanksgiving and will not let gas prices affect their spending, according to the findings of an Accenture (NYSE: ACN) survey released today.

The survey of more than 500 consumers in the United States found that 44 percent plan to shop on the Friday after Thanksgiving, commonly known as ‘Black Friday.’ About half of respondents (49 percent) said that gas prices will not affect their holiday spending, but nearly the same amount (45 percent) said they will make fewer shopping trips this year due to gas prices.

Nearly six in 10 respondents (57 percent) said they will set a budget for holiday gift buying before heading to the stores, but about half (51 percent) of respondents said they are likely to overspend their budget.

More than two-thirds (70 percent) of respondents are concerned about the safety of products made in China. Almost half (48 percent) said they have chosen not to buy items manufactured in China, and nine percent said they have returned an item made in China. More than a third of respondents (37 percent) said they are unconcerned about where the goods they buy are made.

When asked what bothers them most about holiday shopping in stores, the greatest number of respondents – 77 percent – cited crowded malls, followed by long lines (65 percent).

‘Hot’ product While 58 percent of respondents said they anticipate buying a ‘hot’ gift item (a trendy product in high demand) for someone this year, 38 percent say they rarely find innovative items for the holidays. When asked what they would do to obtain a hot item for someone on their shopping list, 45 percent said they would order it in advance, if possible. Almost one-quarter (23 percent) said they would stand in line at a retailer, with 15 percent saying they would arrive at a store early to secure a place in line. Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) said they would not do anything extraordinary to obtain a hot gift item.

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) cite advertising as their primary source to learn about holiday products. More than half (55 percent) cite word of mouth. Fewer consumers consult retailer and manufacturer web sites (39 percent and 23 percent, respectively).

“We see confidence and a desire to buy among holiday shoppers this year, but retailers are still not meeting shoppers’ needs,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice in North America. “Lack of interesting product is a top concern during the holidays and has been for several seasons. Customer service, specifically lengthy check out lines, is another. Retailers must invest in product and service to compete. Those that do will be rewarded with stronger loyalty and being less likely to mark down goods during the season.”

‘Green’ shopping Almost half of respondents (47 percent) said that concern for the environment is an important influence on their shopping behavior, and nearly six in 10 (57 percent) said they are willing to spend more on ‘green’ products. More consumers seek environmentally friendly products than look for environmentally friendly retailers (60 percent versus 46 percent). Some shoppers, however, are influenced by retailers’ environmental practices, with 35 percent of respondents saying they are influenced by retailers’ recycling programs.

Gift cards Four out of five respondents (80 percent) said they have either received or given a gift card in the past year. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents said they purchase gift cards because they are more convenient than gifts, and more than two-thirds (68 percent) said they give gift cards when they don’t know what size of clothing the recipient wears. About three-quarters of respondents (73 percent) said they purchase gift cards at the retail store where the card will be used, while only 14 percent of respondents purchase them in another location, such as a grocery or convenience store.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) said they will use a gift card they receive to treat themselves to something they would not otherwise buy, and 44 percent said they will buy something for which they were saving. Fewer than one in four respondents (38 percent) said they use gift cards to shop for sale items. About two-thirds (65 percent) said they use a gift card in a single shopping trip, and 38 percent use the gift card within one month of receiving it.

“Gift cards are increasingly becoming a mainstream gift and will continue to affect how consumers shop during the holidays and year round,” said Hoffman. “Retailers must investigate how to adapt important aspects of their operations – signage, assortment, staffing, and advertising and promotion – to serve both gift card buyers and those who redeem them.”

Among other survey findings:

Methodology The Web-based survey of 532 U.S. consumers age 18 and older was fielded in November 2007.

About Accenture Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With approximately 170,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$19.70 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2007. Its home page is www.accenture.com .

Contacts: Caitlin Storhaug
+1 (415) 537-5458

Jonathan Zaback
Burson-Marsteller for Accenture
+1 (212) 614-4429