Holiday spending rose 16% to $711 on average over 2015, according to the Post-Holiday Shopping Survey from global real estate organization the International Council of Shopping Centers. Spending was also 4% more than consumers surveyed in October intended to spend.
The survey found mobile use was widespread, but phones weren’t used for purchasing so much as for other shopping activities: 86% of Millennials used a smartphone while shopping in stores and 96% of those made a purchase. More than half (52%) used their phones to check prices, 40% checked product availability, 37% got coupons or discounts and 33% checked reviews.
Consumers spent $897 on average this holiday season including dining out and entertainment like movies. Gen Xers spent $1,000 on average, while Baby Boomers averaged $875 and Millennials averaged $867. But Millennials packed more “experiences” spending than their elders at $220 on average; in all, experience-based spending was some 20% of holiday spending this year.
For a season that has seen e-commerce surge yet again, hitting both store traffic and margins this year, physical retailers nevertheless proved indispensable to holiday shoppers.
A huge 69% of holiday shopping took place at retailers with both physical and e-commerce channels, according to ICSC's survey, and a massive 91% of holiday spending took place in physical stores. Just under half of holiday spending took place online at either a pure-play or omnichannel retailer, a quarter was with pure-play retailers, including Amazon, and 23% spent online with physical retailers, according to the survey.
That points up the importance of blurring lines of communication and channel, according to ICSC president/CEO Tom McGee. “The convergence of physical and digital continues to be important as consumers have come to expect an integrated experience allowing them to buy products through a variety of channels,” McGee said in a statement. “The survey data proves that omnichannel retailers are the real winners this season as they offer purchasing options that satisfy the shopping behaviors of all generations.”
While declining mall traffic continues to bedevil many retailers, many holiday shoppers spent money at shopping centers, though not necessarily at stores: 73% shopped, 45% dined and 26% saw a movie.
A lingering hunger for discounts shows that consumer confidence remains somewhat precarious, according to retail research agency and consulting firm Conlumino, which found that consumers continue to seek out discount players like dollar stores and off-price retailers, even during the holidays.
“Despite the optimism among consumers, which fueled spending, it is clear that not all retailers have seen gains,” according to Conlumino’s own holiday report. “Shopper share at department stores, [electronics] specialists and mass merchants was eroded. Gains were made by online only players — mostly Amazon — as well as value oriented retailers like off-price players and the dollar stores.”