It’s almost October, and that means it’s time for business owners to start planning and implementing their holiday sales campaign. In order to make the most of the annual shopping frenzy, business owners need to get into the heads of their potential customers. A recent survey provides useful insights into when, where and how holiday shoppers plan to spend their money this holiday season.
The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults earlier in September. Using the data from their responses, they created the The ICSC Holiday Forecast. The ICSC researchers forecast a 3.8 percent year-over-year growth in retail sales for the 2017 holiday season.
At the same time, ICSC also released its Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey. Data from this survey suggested that the average consumer expects to spend an average of $728.40 on gifts and other holiday related items. Just under half (46 percent) plan to send more than they did last year on holiday related shopping.
“Our annual Holiday Shopping Intentions findings demonstrate that consumers are very optimistic this holiday season and that physical retail remains a cornerstone of the holiday season,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers in a recent press statement. “The more agile retailers are in meeting consumers’ demands for the seamless convergence of physical and digital shopping, the more success they will see.”
Holiday Shoppers Still Prefer to Shop at Physical Retailers
There’s no denying that online shopping and ecommerce will play a huge role in the holiday shopping season this year, but both online as well as brick and mortar retailers have a lot to look forward. According to the ICSC data, nearly all (96 percent) of shopper they surveyed plan to make a purchase from a retailer who has both a physical and an online presence. This news is slightly better for in-store retailers, since nine out of ten (91 percent) holiday shoppers said they were planning to buy some of the items they research online at physical locations.
Business owners and marketers can use this data to modify their advertising and marketing strategies for the holiday season. Online advertising used in conjunction with traditional ads can increase in-store sales. According to the ICSC data, of shoppers responding to omni-channel ads, 40 percent of them plan on buying online and picking up in-store, which doesn’t benefit in-store sales per se. But four out of five (81 percent) of those shoppers plan to make additional purchases when picking up their items. In this way, in-store pick up for online items can boost sales for the physical retail store, just by increasing foot traffic.
What Millennial Holiday Shoppers Plan To Do in 2017
Despite the common stereotype of millennials being online shopping junkies, nine out of ten (92 percent) are still planning to spend money in a physical store this holiday season. Millennials will spend less than the overall average on holiday gifts, with the average millennial planning to spend around $554.40 on holiday gifts and related items. Though they will be spending about 25 percent less than the forecasted national average, this isn’t a demographic business owners can afford to ignore.
The majority of millennials (57 percent) plan to take advantage of discounts on Black Friday, this is the highest percentage of any demographic in the ICSC survey. The increased focus on bargains makes sense given that millennials plan to spend less.
The online/in-store duality is especially true of young adults. Three-fourths of Millennials shoppers plan to spend online at retailers whose stores they also visited in person. Similarly, 50 percent of them will buy online and pick up in-store.
“Millennials are by far the biggest disruptor right now. They not only want experience but they want convenience as well which we see in their intent to utilize both online and physical,” stated McGee. “The theory that they are a digital-only generation is simply not true; they want digital to be a part of their transaction rather than the entire transaction.”
Business owners may want to consider increasing the budgets for their millennial-focused ad campaigns before and during Black Friday. Millennial shoppers will still be shopping during after Black Friday, of course, but they will have less money to spend.
Start Campaigns Early to Reach Holiday Shoppers in 2017
As stated in the opening, now is the time for business owners to start thinking about, and in some cases deploying, their holiday marketing campaigns. While it’s true that November and December “remain the anticipated busiest shopping months”, according to the ICSC data , there was an uptick in the number of people planning to shop before Thanksgiving at 66 percent. Even in September, some holiday shoppers may have already slipped by, with more than one in four (27 percent) holiday shoppers saying they started as early as August.
The early shopping season will also have a windfall benefit to businesses that are near shopping centers. While we must take data from the International Council of Shopping Centers with a grain of salt, their estimates suggest 81 percent of shoppers will visit a mall/shopping center and do things other than shopping.
Restaurants can rejoice that the majority 53 percent plan to stop and eat while they’re out shopping. About a third (32 percent) said they will catch a movie. And even traditional holiday events can be a draw, with 17 percent of respondents saying they participate in a philanthropic event or plan to attend a Christmas tree lighting/Menorah lighting/holiday parade.
Holiday Shoppers Still Use Online Tools When Shopping In-Store
Another aspect that brick-and-mortar retailer should keep in mind is that their online presence will affect shoppers, even once they are in the store. There have been many recent studies that support the fact that most shoppers use the internet and their smartphones to help them find what they want at the best price.
According to ICSC, most shoppers (85 percent) plan to research online prior to making purchases in-store. And it’s estimated that three-quarters of holiday shoppers will have a mobile device to compare prices, get discounts and check availability while inside the store. It’s important that holiday specials are up-to-date and that a business’s website has as much information about reviews, availability, etc as possible. Nine out of 10 holiday shoppers expect to visit a retailer’s website or app to browse product information.
Whether you know it or not, the holiday shopping season is here. If the forecast from the ICSC is correct, business owners don’t want to miss out on the chance to benefit from the increased spending.
For more interesting and useful research, check out my weekly series of random statistics.