November 23, 2014

USC professor: More people using debit cards and cash

The sales figures for Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem to indicate that consumer confidence is picking up despite the slow growth in the economy, according to University of South Carolina retail professor Marianne Bickle.

Bickle said online sales nationwide were up 15 percent from a year ago, while brick-and-mortar places experienced a modest, but not insignificant 3.1 percent increase. Bickle said South Carolina shoppers have participated in that growth. And, this year, more people are being more frugal by keeping their credit cards in their wallets, she said.

“Far more people are making purchases only with a debit card or with cash. So what they’re saying is, if I can’t afford to make this purchase, I’m not going to make it. They are not making it on credit and that’s a wise thing to do.”

Bickle said the hot ticket items continue to be some form of technology like cell phones or iPads, clothing and toys. She noted that more than 40 percent of shoppers are using technology to find coupons and other sales promotions.

“So they might be looking for deals on their iPads or on their cell phones. They’re using technology to find out where the savings are”.

Bickle said, while the percentage of growth of sales are online, the sheer number of overall sales continue to be larger among brick and mortar stores. People still like to participate in what she calls tactile shopping; they like to see, tough, and try on, but, Bickle said, online shoppers tend to like the convenience of shopping without the hustle and bustle.

“They like to shop at a lot of different stores or they like the convenience or they like to shop at stores that are not in their immediate vicinity.”

Bickle said for those who have not done their shopping yet, retailers will be trotting out more sales promotions and deals to entice the consumer to buy.

“And you will see really good promotions, good sales, and good savings coming from retailers, big and small.”