At the holidays this year, consumers will be online—on their computers and their phones—to begin their shopping, and that will drive 64%, or $434 billion, of retail store sales this holiday season, compared to 50% last year, according to Deloitte's annual holiday sales forecast.
But that won’t fuel much holiday spending growth, which will rise 3.5% to 4% compared to 5.2% last year. Deloitte expects digital sales at the holidays to grow 8.5% to 9%, compared to 12% to 15% last year.
The break-outs will be more blurred than ever, according to the forecast, with more shoppers buying online and picking up in store or otherwise mixing up shopping channels. Some 80% of shoppers say they touch base with a retailer or brand on digital devices before they head to a store, according to Deloitte.
All kinds of consumer realities will dampen holiday spending, according to this forecast from Deloitte. For one thing, despite a healthier economy, the wage gap is persisting, so many middle- and lower-incomes remained flat in the first half of the year.
More consumers are also shifting their spending priorities to experiences like travel and entertainment. While that can boost sales of smartphones and some electronics, overall studies show that people are less interested in acquiring things like apparel. Apparel and toys remain the biggest holiday purchases, though, according to research from Epsilon.
Plus, holiday shopping is increasingly being spread over time as Black Friday has morphed from an actual day to more of a concept.
“Retailers that are likely to come out ahead this holiday season are the ones connecting the dots between their digital channels and their stores, rather than focusing solely on the online ‘Buy’ button,” Rod Sides, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and retailer and distribution sector leader, told Internet Retailer magazine.