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21 Mar, 2013

Shopping Trends Study Shows Uptick in U.S. Consumers Trying New Retailers


Boulder, CO (PRWEB) March 20, 2013 — Despite cautionary spending last year, retailers may have good reason to be optimistic in 2013 – consumers are trying more fashion retailers for the first time, and most are making purchases during those visits.

According to a study by Market Force Information, which offers customer intelligence solutions, four in 10 (39%) of consumers surveyed reported trying a new fashion retailer over the past 90 days – a 22% gain from 2011, and a 179% increase from 2010 when just 14% of consumers said they’d tried a new retailer. H&M is the retailer that consumers reported visiting for the first time most often, followed by Kohl’s, Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch and Forever 21.

The Market Force study, conducted in February, was designed to uncover consumer shopping trends and behaviors, including how they’ve shifted over the past three years.

Out of the top-ranking retailers in the study, H&M did the best job of attracting new customers for the second time in a row. The Swedish retailer received the highest ranking when the survey votes were indexed to account for number of locations per chain. Kohl’s secured the No. 2 spot, up from its sixth-place finish in Market Force’s previous retail study in late 2011, and Macy’s moved from No. 11 up to third place. Coldwater Creek and White House | Black Market both fell significantly this year from their top-five ranking in 2011. See Graph 1.

The survey revealed that consumers were most likely to try a new retailer when shopping for casual clothing (46%), business attire (17%), evening wear (12%), athletic wear (9%) and outdoors apparel (8%).

The Power of Promos

Not surprisingly, good deals are primarily responsible for getting people into the doors of a fashion retailer for the first time. The Market Force study found that a sale, discount or promo was the impetus for nearly one in five who tried a new retailer (19%, up from 11% in 2011). But recommendations from family and friends – which was the top influencer in the 2011 study – ranked a close second with 17%. Fourteen-percent reported stopping on impulse. Newspaper, magazine and TV ads ranked lowest, similar to 2011’s findings.

Satisfaction (and Sales) Guaranteed?

Of the consumers who recently ventured into a new retailer, just 60% said they were delighted by their experiences, while many – 40% – were neutral or negative. The retailers that delivered a top-notch experience saw the payoff in the cash register. Of the shoppers who reported being highly satisfied by their initial visit, 90% said they made a purchase. The most-bought items were casual clothes, accessories, business apparel and evening wear. Those highly satisfied customers also planned to return – 90% said they would shop at this retailer again within the next 90 days.

“For all of the focus on discounts and deals to drive shopping in this post-Great Recession environment, it’s a testament to see how much satisfaction is the retail industry’s real growth engine. These consumers are the ‘gift that keeps on giving.’. They come back more often, they buy more when they do, and they recommend the store to their friends,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “In our findings, consumers who gave a five out of five satisfaction score were six times more likely to recommend the retailer to others than those who gave a four out of five. Focusing on great service and in-store execution is the best investment a retailer can make to grow same-store sales.”

Social Media Playing Diminishing Role

While social media has a role in driving consumers’ shopping choices, it appears to be waning somewhat in its influence. For the most part, conversations with friends are more impactful than the social content pushed by the retailer. When compared with its 2011 findings, Market Force’s study found a slight drop in those who said social media is extremely or highly influential when deciding where to shop for clothes and accessories.

Still, many are turning to social media for retail research and information sharing. Nearly half of respondents (42%, up from 37% in 2011 and 11% in 2010) said they use social media to find information about fashion retailers, and 12% (up from 7% in 2011) said they have posted about a fashion retailer on social media.

Spending Trends

Some additional research indicators point to consumers being more bullish in their spending. As a case in point, the number of survey respondents who consider themselves ‘fashionistas’ increased in this year’s study, while the number who characterize themselves as ‘minimalists’ decreased. Not surprisingly, ‘fashionistas’ spend the most on clothes and accessories, with 68% spending over $100 a month and 19% spending over $250 a month. See Graph 4.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted in February 2013 across the United States. The pool of 4,000 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 60% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 40% were men and 60% were women and nearly two-thirds are married.

For more information on Market Force’s customer intelligence solutions for the retail industry, visit http://www.marketforce.com/industries/retail