holiday online shopping

Research released this past week revealed insights into the upcoming holiday season. According to Sensormatic, MiQ and RetailMeNot in separate reports, shoppers are entering the shopping season sooner and armed with optimistic outlooks while starting to think about gift-giving as early as September.

In the annual ShopperTrak report presented by Sensormatic Solutions of Johnson Controls, the Thanksgiving Day weekend, including Black Friday, and the Saturday after Thanksgiving, are set to continue to be crucial days for all U.S. retailers this holiday season.

Despite some ahead of the curve consumers getting a jump on the holidays, the report suggests nearly half of all holiday sales can still be narrowed down to 10 peak traffic days, with eight days landing firmly in December. “It’s clear that the physical store is still a key to holiday success for retailers,” said Bjoern Petersen, president at Sensormatic Solutions. “With the top shopping days making up 45 percent of retailers’ holiday sales in the U.S., it is more important than ever for retailers to prioritize in-store customer engagement as an effective way to drive sales, customer retention and brand sentiment.”

Similarly, MiQ’s 2019 Holiday Shopping Study forecasts the majority of Americans will begin holiday shopping in late October with a peak Thanksgiving weekend, though regardless of start time, data predicts 70 percent of Americans will not conclude shopping until December. “Most holiday shoppers plan to shop, either online or offline, on one of Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday or Cyber Monday and nearly half plan to shop on all three days,” MiQ said.

consumer spending

Cyber Monday, MiQ predicts, will remain primarily an online shopping experience. In the report, the company details the 2019 holiday shopping experience to not be limited to in-store and desktop shopping, but 65 percent of shoppers will make online purchases using a mobile device compared to 49 percent who will do so on a desktop or laptop. Additionally, the mobile shopping experience will not limit itself to purchasing but be a significant part of the in-store shopping experience as well. Consumers are predicted to use mobile devices to track orders, locate physical stores, and research product reviews.

Researching products is a large part of holiday shopping for the American consumer. “Even if they haven’t started shopping yet, four in 10 Americans will start making plans for their holiday shopping before November,” said MiQ. A majority of this research will take place online and though Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals will not take place until late November, MiQ says research around the sales will commence much earlier. As sales become competitive, consumers will be likely to conduct price comparisons and make shortlists for products and retailers.

Likewise, MiQ reports preparation for the holiday season will be key for retailers both online and in-store. Advertising campaigns will quickly become competitive for high-value consumers. The company predicts an increase of 25 to 50 percent in advertiser spending leading up to the holiday season. To adapt to shoppers who turn to a mobile device, the company is advising brands to create impact with placements “where shoppers will see them” such as on tech and lifestyle content sites.

A package from Amazon Prime is loaded for delivery on a UPS truck, in New York. Amazon is extending its annual "Prime Day" promotion to 30 hours this year. Amazon will offer discounts and other deals in an effort to boost sales during the slower summer months. This year's Prime Day will start at 9 p.m. ET on July 10, 2017. While Amazon has claimed success, there have been grumblings that Prime Day deals have been unimpressive or involve older modelsTEC--Amazon-Prime Day, New York, USA - 09 May 2017

Meanwhile, in the RetailMeNot report, researchers found that shoppers are shopping much earlier in the year for holiday gifts. In a report — done in partnership with Kelton Global — that polled more than 1,000 consumers and 200-plus retail marketing executives, RetailMeNot found that 28 percent of U.S. consumers “purchased a holiday item through Amazon on Prime Day” while “20 percent of surveyed consumers say they begin their holiday shopping in September or earlier.”

And that is keeping retailers up late at night.

“More than six in 10 retailers worry that Amazon Prime Day has shifted the majority of consumer spending to the third quarter versus the fourth quarter,” authors of the report said. The report noted that the 2019 holiday season “has the fewest number of days possible between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is six days shorter than 2018.” The authors of the report also found that 61 percent of retailers are planning to launch holiday deals as early as this month, which is up from 52 percent polled in the same survey last year.

In regard to spending, the survey found that consumers are expecting to spend about $738 between the period of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is down about $65 from last’s year expected spending. Regarding where and how they shop, 71 percent of shoppers expect to buy goods at a mass retailer such and Target and Walmart while 54 percent eyed Amazon as a shopping destination. Fifty percent of consumers planned on spending at department stores such as Macy’s or Kohl’s.

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