Retailers will see “record web traffic” over the holidays, with half of consumers planning to shop online, bringing the Internet a bigger lead than ever over discount/value department stores, according to Deloitte's 31st annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends, which polled over 5,000 consumers and was released on Wednesday.
For the first time in Deloitte's study, shoppers anticipate they'll spend nearly half (47%) of their budget online, nearly matching spending at physical stores. Shoppers plan to buy an average of 14 gifts this year, on par with last year, and will spend an average of $426 on gifts, the survey found.
Fewer people this year plan to visit big-box retailers, dropping from 63% last year to 59% this year, and the percentage of shoppers who plan to shop at traditional malls is expected to fall slightly from 53% last year to 50% this year. Those planning to shop at smaller independent non-mall retailers will drop four percentage points to 38%. In total, shoppers plan on average to shell out $998 for the holidays this year.
Retailers primed to show off their digital chops will do well over the holidays, and omnichannel services like in-store pickup of online orders are poised to please some 43% of holiday shoppers, according to the survey.
On par with other surveys released this season, Deloitte found that many shoppers this year will be spending a lot of time researching items ahead of their purchases. Two-thirds (66%) told Deloitte that they’ll be “webrooming,” meaning they will look at items online before making an in-store purchase, and half will “showroom” by looking at items in store, then searching online for the best price.
Some 86% will be researching online before making a purchase in store and 78% will use smartphones while shopping in stores. While mobile is still mainly reserved for research — like getting store locations (61%), checking prices (57%) and browsing online (56%) — purchasing on a phone is gaining ground, the survey found, with 43% of smartphone owners expecting to make a mobile purchase, up from 35% in 2014.
While shoppers appear to be sanguine about the economy, according to this survey, they’ll nevertheless be reserving most of their holiday spending to gifts. After increasing their spending on non-gift items over the past four years, consumers this year plan to cut back on travel and dining out, entertaining, non-gift clothing for themselves or families and home/holiday furnishings and decorations, which will total $572 per household this year. That result is surprising, and suggests an ebbing of the much-touted consumer preference for experiences over physical things.
Most shoppers (88%), say they expect the economy to improve or remain the same next year, with three-quarters saying their household financial situation is the same or better than last year, up from 58% five years ago. While some surveys have found that the presidential contest is curtailing household spending, this one found that nearly three quarters of shoppers (73%) don’t believe the election will affect their holiday spending.
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2016 holiday shopping season. You can browse our holiday page for more stories.