Holiday Season Shopping Info

Interested in finding out how other NCP panel members feel about holiday shopping? Well, we have some data for you!

But first, let me explain: NCP has been conducting an Advisory Board, with rotating members, for the past few years. The NCP Advisory Board functions as an ongoing, online focus group. Each group usually lasts two or three months, and then we start a new one, with new board members. A few times a month we’ll ask the board members to provide their opinions about a specific NCP-related topic. Our belief is that, as an NCP panelist, there’s no one better to ask about what we can do to enhance the panel.

With that said, our most recent Advisory Board group was asked about their holiday shopping experiences. (Please note: This is not scientific! It’s just a snapshot into some of our panelists’ opinions.) Here is what they said:

When do you start your holiday shopping?

  • Start before September: 16.7%
  • Start September or October: 14.3%
  • Start November to early December: 42.9%
  • Start mid-December: 11.9%
  • Start day/days before holiday: 4.8%
  • Don’t holiday shop: 7.1%

Compared with last year, how much money are you planning to spend on holiday shopping?

  • More: 15.4%
  • Same: 53.8%
  • Less: 30.8%

Did you take advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping/deals?

  • Black Friday only: 17.9%
  • Cyber Monday only: 12.8%
  • Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday: 17.9%
  • Shopped that weekend, but not on Black Friday or Cyber Monday: 5.1%
  • Didn’t shop Black Friday, the weekend, or Cyber Monday: 46.2%

How many friends or family members do you typically shop for during the holiday season?

  • 1 – 5: 23.1%
  • 6 – 10: 51.3%
  • 11 – 15: 23.1%
  • More than 15: 2.6%

When holiday shopping, where do you get the best deals?

  • Online: 51.2%
  • In-store: 39.0%

When making holiday purchases, how do you typically pay?

  • Credit: 45.9%
  • Debit: 32.4%
  • Cash: 16.2%
  • PayPal: 2.7%

When do you typically start putting up your holiday decorations?

  • Start during November: 29.4%
  • Start the day after Thanksgiving: 14.7%
  • Start early December: 38.2%
  • Start days before the holiday: 17.6%

Do you have a favorite holiday song?

Yes: 58.6%

Songs include:

  • Silent night
  • Jingle Bells
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • Holy Night
  • Feliz Navidad
  • White Christmas
  • Winter Wonderland
  • All I Want For Christmas is You

Do you have a favorite holiday show/special that you look forward to watching each year?

Yes: 44.8%

Shows include:

  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Polar Express
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
  • A Christmas Carol
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • White Christmas
  • A Christmas Story
  • Charlie Brown Christmas

Note: This particular Advisory Board contains 50 members. Numbers may not add up to 100%, due to rounding and other factors.

We hope you enjoyed reading these results. Please let us know how you would answer these questions by leaving a comment or two.

And one last thing: If you’re able to, please recycle or reuse any wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift boxes, etc. Thank you.

We here at NCP wish you a happy and healthy holiday!

Best Regards,
Taylor

All About Barcodes

Last week when I went grocery shopping, I was so tired from a long day that I just stood there at the checkout and just “checked out” the cashier scan all the items.

I thought about how interesting barcodes are. (I told you I had checked out!) All that information embedded in those lines!

Anyway, in a sad coincidence, I later found out that George J. Laurer, recognized as the “Father” of the UPC barcode, had passed away at the age of 94.

Mr. Laurer began working on the scanable digital barcode around 1970 while he was employed at IBM. The very first transaction using the barcode was done in 1974, at a Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, OH. The first product scanned was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. That pack of gum is now at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

We here at NCP certainly owe Mr. Laurer a deep debt of gratitude for his development of the scanable digital barcode. Where would we be without barcodes?

Now, for those of you who’ve been wondering what a barcode is exactly, a Universal Product Code (UPC) is a set of symbols used to represent letters or numbers. These symbols contain information such as the name of the manufacturer, product description (price, size, color, flavor), inventory quantity, etc.

Barcodes allow businesses to operate more efficiently and accurately, and they are used just about everywhere! Not only do manufacturers and retailers use barcodes, other industries such as healthcare and video stores, to name a few, use bar code technology. UPCs originate with the Uniform Code Council (UCC). The UCC issues the manufacturers and retailers a six-digit manufacturer identification number and provides guidelines on how to use it.

How does the NCPMobile App/scanner pick up the barcodes?
When you pass your Smartphone or the scanner over a barcode, the light beam from the Smartphone or scanner is reflected by the light spaces, but not the dark ones. The app/scanner receives the reflected light and converts it into an electrical signal. This signal can be “decoded” by the app/scanner’s decoder into the characters that the barcode represents. The decoded data is then passed to the computer in a traditional data format.

For the National Consumer Panel, barcodes play a key role. By scanning all of the purchases that have a UPC bar code, you provide important information about your household’s preferences. This in turn allows you to make your opinions count!

Note: I want to personally thank Elaine S., who emailed us information about Mr. Laurer’s passing away.

Remember to scan all those barcodes on your holiday purchases! (Along with your regular purchases, too.)

Thanks and have a great weekend.

Best Regards,
Taylor

Going Online Shopping?

Have you gone shopping over the past few days? I did, and I certainly was not alone.

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 190 million consumers shopped between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Of that, about two-thirds visited physical stores while three-quarters shopped online. On Cyber Monday alone, shoppers spent a record $9.4 billion online, according to data released by Adobe Analytics. That was a nearly 20% jump from last year and the biggest U.S. online shopping day of all-time.

Black Friday for its part had $7.4 billion in online sales, making it the third-largest online sales day ever, after the last two Cyber Mondays, according to Adobe data. 

What about you? Tell us about your recent shopping (online or otherwise) experiences by leaving a comment or two!

Since so many of us are doing more and more shopping online, now is a good time to review the best ways to report these purchases.

  • Online purchases may come in one or multiple shipments and don’t always include a packing receipt. Consider printing out your email/order confirmation so you can refer back to it when reporting your purchase.
  • If your items do come separately, please scan them as you receive them.
  • If an item arrives with the UPC barcode covered by another label, try carefully peeling off that label and scanning the UPC barcode on the item (or manually enter the barcode number if the barcode is damaged).
  • If you buy something from the website of a retailer that also has a storefront, make sure to report the trip as an online purchase. For example, if you order something from Walmart’s website, select “walmart.com” when you record the purchase (whether the item was shipped directly to you or picked up at the store).

Whether you buy something in a physical store or online, please remember to tell us about it.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Thanksgiving Tidbits


It’s here again! Turkey day is coming soon and you know what that means! Hopefully lots of family/friends, food, and fun.

This year our family is hosting, and we expect a lot of people! We’re going to have to break out a few card tables to accommodate everyone. They’ll be a lot of preparation involved, but fortunately I’ll have a lot of help.

How about you? What are your plans for Thanksgiving? What about Black Friday – going shopping? Let us know by posting a comment.

You know we all love some good info. Well, here are some Thanksgiving tidbits from the folks at wallethub.com:

  • 96% of Americans say they celebrate Thanksgiving
  • $552M+ estimated amount spent on Thanksgiving turkeys each year
  • 73% of U.S. adults agree that a fridge full of leftovers is the best thing about hosting Thanksgiving
  • 3,000 – 4,500: Average number of calories consumed on Thanksgiving
  • 9% of Americans eat their Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant
  • 72% of Americans plan to attend a Thanksgiving dinner with 5 or more people
  • Americans’ favorite Thanksgiving dishes:
    • 39% turkey
    • 23% stuffing
    • 12% pumpkin pie
    • 9% mashed potatoes
    • 6% sweet potatoes
    • 3% cranberry sauce
  • Thanksgiving shopping trends
    • $313+ Average person’s spending over the five-day Thanksgiving period
    • 165M+ shopped over the five-day Thanksgiving period in 2018
    • 57% of people buying holiday gifts got clothing or accessories
    • 34% of Thanksgiving shoppers bought toys in 2018
    • $3.7B: Amount spent online on Thanksgiving Day in 2018 (28% increase over 2017)
  • Thanksgiving weekend traveling trends
    • 54.3M+ Americans will travel this Thanksgiving holiday (most since 2005)
    • 89.4% of travelers will drive to their destinations
    • 7.8% of Americans will fly to their Thanksgiving destinations

If you are one of those millions of people traveling by car this weekend, you’ll probably need to put some gas in the car. So please don’t forget to record the purchase. Just use the Gas listing in the Barcode Reference Booklet (Barcode Reference Booklet) if you use one of our handheld scanners, or if you’re an NCPMobile App user, use the Non-Barcoded Items list in the app. (NCPMobile people: Please do not use the Barcode Reference Booklet! Thank you.)

Note: Use Gas Trip Only designation if you just purchased gas during a trip to the service station. Use Gas With Purchase when the gasoline is purchased along with other items from the gasoline station’s convenience store. Only enter the price paid for the fuel. For all other items with a barcode, please record them as usual.

Also, let us know if you’re going to be away for a while by contacting the Panel Support Center at 800-962-6700. (If you have the NCPMobile App, you can use it while you’re away!)

Finally, I want to remind everyone that we are closed on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, Nov. 29. The Panel Support Center will be open on Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Have a very happy and safe holiday!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Thanksgiving Tidbits