Do Omnichannel Retailers Have an Edge This Holiday?

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Do Omnichannel Retailers Have an Edge This Holiday?

The International Council of Shopping Centers' (ICSC) 2016 Black Friday Consumer Survey finds that 81 percent of the nearly 150.7 million people expected to shop during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (Nov. 24-27) intend to spend in physical stores. This total increases to 95 percent when you include consumers who will shop at those same physical retailers' online channels (omnichannel retailers).

According to recent ICSC surveys, omnichannel retailers have developed a significant competitive advantage as more and more consumers demand an integrated shopping experience. As one example, 37 percent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers intend to utilize technology to buy items online and pick them up in the store. Seventy-six percent of these shoppers will then make additional purchases when picking up their items in-store.

One-third of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers intend to spend more than last year and one-half intend to spend about the same. The average Thanksgiving weekend shopper expects to spend a total of $413.50. Experiences will be a key expenditure, as consumers expect to spend $115.50 of that total on dining and entertainment.

"Winning omnichannel retailers embrace both clicks AND bricks, leveraging the relationship and logistical benefits of their physical store network while using technology to simplify and enhance the shopping experience," said ICSC president and CEO Tom McGee. "As we prepare for one of the season's key spending weekends, we expect to see more retailers looking for ways to engage consumers in-store and online to make the most out of their omnichannel strategy."

While 95 percent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers expect to purchase at omnichannel retailers and 81 percent plan to spend in physical stores, only half (51 percent) plan to spend with pure play online retailers. This isn't surprising when compared to an analysis of U.S. Census and Euromonitor data, which shows that pure play online-only retailers make up a mere 3.5 percent of all annual retail sales.

Simultaneous shopping across channels, informing purchasing
Of those who plan to spend in stores during the Thanksgiving weekend, 94 percent will conduct research online prior to making in-store purchases. Eighty-nine percent of those with a mobile device will use it in a store to:

Compare prices (65 percent)
Get digital discounts/coupons to use in stores (47 percent)
Research product information (42 percent)
Read reviews or ratings (41 percent)
Check inventory (38 percent)
Deals and Experiences to Motivate Holiday Shoppers

Eighty-four percent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers are likely to be influenced by the hallmark of the holiday weekend, promotions, when purchasing gifts. In fact, in-store deals and promotions were shoppers' number one reason to shop at physical stores over the weekend.

61 percent shop in stores to take advantage of the deals/promotions being offered
59 percent shop in stores to physically see, touch or try on the merchandise
56 percent shop in stores to get desired items immediately
Deals aren't the only reason that consumers are flocking to brick-and-mortar stores. Eighty-one percent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers plan to visit a mall or shopping center during the holiday weekend–and, of these shoppers, 78 percent will engage in an experiential activity such as dining at a restaurant, seeing a movie or having a child's picture taken with Santa.

Electronics, apparel and footwear top categories
A nod to the rise of technology, electronics will lead the top spending categories over the weekend, followed closely by apparel and footwear, and toys and games. Across the following categories, physical stores are the dominating medium for where consumers intend to purchase these items.

Electronics (79 percent)
Apparel and footwear (77 percent)
Toys and games (72 percent)
Home goods/houseware (70 percent)
Gift cards (69 percent)
Cosmetics/fragrances (55 percent)
Jewelry (43 percent)

The 2016 ICSC Black Friday Shopping Study was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of ICSC from Nov. 3-6, 2016. The survey represents a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,022 adults of 18 years of age and older.

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