More than three-quarters (77%) of holiday shoppers plan to complete at least some of their list online, but the real story is cross-channel purchasing, according to a study from The NPD Group which was emailed to Retail Dive. Six out of ten shoppers plan to go both online and to brick-and-mortar stores this season, an increase of three percentage points since last year, according to the report.
Online shopping intent has risen four percentage points from last year and six percentage points from 2016, according to the report. E-commerce shoppers anticipate spending an average of $748 this year, some 50% more than the $492 of those planning to go only to physical stores, NPD said.
More than two-thirds (70%) plan to shop at online-only retailers over the holidays, followed by 42% who plan to head to mass-merchants and discount stores, 24% to national chain stores and 23% to department stores, NPD found.
As they've boosted their own e-commerce operations, brick-and-mortar retailers are getting a bigger piece of the holiday pie, both online and off. And e-commerce pure-plays are responding by offering more merchandise in physical stores.
"The traditional division between online and in-store retailing continues to shift and blur," Marshal Cohen, NPD Group's chief industry advisor, said in a statement. "Traditional store retailers are upping their online games these days, while they are also finding ways to drive traffic to stores with improved efficiency, more entertaining shopping experiences and better value. Online retailers are also finding ways to blur the retail divide in their own ways, offering lower prices and shipping options that get products to consumers faster than ever."
Amazon continues to be a disruptor this time of year, according to NPD's research. Online retailers are often the first place holiday shoppers browse for holiday purchases. More than half of shoppers anticipate using Amazon for product research this year, followed by 37% who seek out consumer reviews or search engines. Social media is also a factor, and that starting point is critical, according to Cohen, who noted that catalogs, TV and magazines are less important than in the past.
The study warned, though, that customers shopping online worry about package theft. Most e-commerce customers still plan to have packages delivered and left outside their homes, however, even though one in six (17%) have had a package stolen in the past. More powerful is the effort by brick-and-mortar retailers to take part in the digital revolution, though not all retail segments are meeting with the same level of success, according to a report from Moody's Investors Service emailed to Retail Dive on Thursday. Those analysts noted that auto parts stores, department stores and specialty apparel are closer to mastering the omnichannel services that boost their digital sales, but that grocery stores "may never achieve significant penetration because of the challenges of servicing the last mile."
NPD in September fielded its online survey to members of its online consumer panel, and the 3,605 completed surveys in the report reflect a representative sample in the U.S., the firm said.