Each day that Christmas draws nearer, physical stores gain more of an advantage over e-commerce, in a holiday shopping period that has otherwise been dominated by an unprecedented level of online sales. Even e-commerce behemoth Amazon this week joined in crowing that stores would be open Christmas Eve, though its chain, numbering less than 600, is smaller than most of its big-box rivals.
The coming weekend is the last before Christmas Day, and the National Retail Federation on Friday said it expects some 87 million people to head to physical stores on "Super Saturday" this year, with top destinations including department stores (30%), discount stores (20%), clothing and accessories stores (20%) and electronics stores (17%). Adding in those also going online, the group expects about 150 million to shop that day, up from 147.8 million last year, according to an annual survey done with Prosper Insights & Analytics.
A slight majority of U.S. consumers (52%) do expect to finish their holiday shopping online, according to NRF. But with an unprecedented level of BOPIS services at retailers of all sizes and types, an expansion necessitated by the pandemic, that could still mean a trip to the store. From October 2019 to October this year, online sales rose 63% year over year, while the use of BOPIS services rose 75%, according to 1010data's holiday report.
Nordstrom, for example, has made last-minute browsing easier by providing each store's inventory via its app, with same-day or next-day curbside pickup of already wrapped items. Even better for some procrastinators, the department store will finish up a customer's gift list for free. Other problem solving options aren't gratis, however: Same-day delivery in New York City is $20, while expedited shipping of online orders (which must be in by noon Eastern Time on Sunday) is $7.
At this point, with the Dec. 25 deadline so near, most retailers encouraging last-minute online orders won't be relying on traditional shippers like the postal service, UPS or FedEx. Their deadlines for ground-service Christmas delivery have already passed and for speedier, more expensive options are fast approaching. To get around that, (in addition to offering curbside pickup) Dick's Sporting Goods this week joined the likes of Walmart and Target in offering same-day delivery from stores.
For the same-day delivery option from more than 150 stores in 10 states, Dick's has partnered with Instacart, adding to the last-mile company's exploding list of retail partners. Instacart's 280% growth this year, as measured by 1010data, was driven largely by grocery stores, as consumers adapted to new shopping routines during the pandemic.
The company said Friday that it works with more than 500 national, regional and local retailers and delivers from nearly 40,000 stores in more than 5,500 North American cities, making its services available to 85% of U.S. households and 70% of Canadian ones. As with Target-owned Shipt (which also partners with other retailers), consumers pay for an Instacart account and get free delivery on orders of a minimum amount.