Thrifty Shoppers Approaching Stores ‘Surgically’

Get out the scalpels and sutures. The buzz for this year’s holiday shopping season is “surgical shopping,” a straight forward and precise approach to buying gifts, as opposed to a leisurely few hours of perusing the store offerings.

“I think we are going to see shoppers making a list and checking it twice,” said Dr. Kristy Reynolds, Bruno Professor of Marketing at The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.

“Shoppers will be honing in on targeted items,” Reynolds said. “They will be hunting for the best bargains regardless of where they shop or what they are buying. There is increasing evidence that impulse buying is declining.”

“Already stores are pulling out all of the stops on deals, and we can expect huge savings on Black Friday.”

Reynolds said holiday advertising and deals started earlier than ever this year as retailers don’t want to take any chances, and they move to make up for lost sales suffered during the recession.

“Some stores sent out e-mails and launched ads and deals before Halloween,” Reynolds said.

The iPad and various models of E-Readers are likely to be the important holiday items this year.

“It is also going to be an App-loaded holiday,” Reynolds said. “Several retailers, such as Toys “R” Us and JCPenney, are offering holiday-related applications for mobile devices.”

Some of the apps find the best price online, and some let the user know when a tagged item goes on sale.

Reynolds said mall vacancies will increase the number of pop-up, express or temporary stores as commercial landlords provide short-term leases to fill vacant spaces.

Retailers large and small will use the short-term outlets to take advantage of peak holiday traffic times and test new locations. Companies such as Harry & David, Disney, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, Procter and Gamble and Levi Strauss will be in on the action.

And, Reynolds said, “I’ve seen some reports that stores are messier today than in the past because more people are putting merchandise back on the shelves before they check out.”

Reynolds can be reached at 205/348-0050, or