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Holiday retail: ‘It’s been a steady increase back to brick and mortar,’ ChargeItSpot CEO says

ChargeItSpot Founder and CEO Doug Baldasare joins Yahoo Finance Live to report findings of his company's holiday shopping survey, indicating consumers' preferences on whether to shop online or in the store and how clothes are the most sought after product this year.

Video transcript

- Well, as we've been talking about it, Thanksgiving week heading into really, the thick of holiday shopping season, even if Black Friday isn't what it used to be. So we're trying to take the temperature, right, in a lot of different ways. We've heard from many of the companies themselves about what they're expecting. Let's talk to Doug Baldasare now. He is ChargeItSpot founder and CEO. His company has charging stations at retailers, which means they have a lot of insight into how long consumers are spending in stores and where they're going. So Doug, I know you guys did a survey of consumers as to what they're buying, but first, just give us sort of the big picture view as to what you are seeing people do in stores thus far this season.

DOUG BALDASARE: Sure. Thanks for having me on. We've seen a gradual and steady return to brick and mortar shopping. As we've looked at the last 12 months, it's really been a pretty steady upward trend. One of the things that we looked at this was-- it was a few things. One with the supply chain challenges that we've seen, are people concerned, are they shopping earlier. 62% of people said they're not shopping any earlier than they had in the past, which is pretty interesting.

And then you look at the other side, and only 10% of people are extremely concerned that they're not going to be able to get the gifts that they need. So it's been a steady increase back to brick and mortar, and people aren't as concerned about the supply chain shortages, at least right now. We continue to track that trend, and as we creep closer to the holidays and after this weekend, we'll see how that may have shifted.

- Doug, which retailer is calling you up right now saying, hey, we need a lot of these charging stations?

DOUG BALDASARE: When we look at that, I think it's going to be some of the retailers who care most about re-energizing the customer experience. So what ChargeItSpot does is we provide free and secure phone charging stations to retail stores as a customer amenity. People care so much about their phones, they die frequently, and that's a stressful experience. Retailers want to alleviate that pain and also give people a reason to spend more time shopping in the store, ultimately, so they buy more items.

- And so what's interesting to me about the survey that you guys did is that most people, the majority, I think 67%, still say they're going to do most of their shopping online, but they're going to the stores. So are we seeing sort of the traditional-- as traditional as anything can be, I guess, in the internet age-- where people are going to the stores, looking at the items in person, and buying online? I mean, what kind of insight did you have into whether that's happening?

DOUG BALDASARE: What we did-- what we did break out among those who were concerned about the supply chain shortage, interestingly, they're doing most of their shopping in the store. They're worried about items not being available, they don't want to rely on clicking and waiting for something to arrive. Conversely, the opposite is true. Those who didn't really care or weren't worried about the supply chain shortages, they're buying online.

What we found interesting about this here compared to prior years is a shift in the most popular gift categories. So in years prior, it was hands-down gift cards. People preferred those, they were easy, they could get what they want. Now the number one category is clothing, and that's across the board for all age groups except for under 21 under. 21 still prefer electronics. But such a shift from gift cards to clothing kind of says a few things.

One, people are getting back out there. As we heard from the Etsy CEO, there is a social component more so now than we've seen in years past, and they want new clothes. They want to get back out there with something new to wear. Also, as we've heard and seen, people have sort of changed sizes, for better or for worse, over the last couple of years. And so clothing has come on top as the number one.

I think what it also tells us is a return to more traditional, thoughtful gift-giving. Gift cards aren't very thoughtful. Clothing and other items that might be a little bit more special is more in line with a traditional thoughtful gift-giving, which speak to maybe the emotional connection that we seek to have around this holiday season.

- And Doug, finally, speaking of emotional connection or emotional feeling during this holiday season, we've seen some big consumer confidence surveys that are fairly negative even as people continue to spend. Your survey actually showed people feel OK going into the holidays. You do it by sort of amount of holiday cheer. And it sounds like people are feeling pretty cheery.

DOUG BALDASARE: Yeah, we've-- we've run a longitudinal study over the years on a holiday cheer to see how that ticks up or ticks down where people rate it on a 5-point scale. This year compared to 2019, it's up 21%. So looking back-- we didn't run the study last year, because there wasn't a bunch of in-person shopping. But 2019 compared to this season, we're at lift of 21%. And actually, as you get closer to the holidays, cheer tends to continue to rise. It's also interesting to call out that we see the highest amounts of cheer with those who have finished their shopping and the lowest amounts of cheer with those who haven't started their shopping.

So that could be one of two things-- people who are inherently cheerful have already done their shopping, and so there's a correlation between the-- the cheer and the fact that you bought. Or you can look at it this is the retail therapy factor-- getting out there, buying stuff does cause an increase in cheer. We'll see that shakeout as we get closer to the holidays.

- Yeah, I definitely feel more cheerful when my shopping is done. Doug Baldasare, thank you so much. ChargeItSpot founder and CEO.