Shopping online e-commerce

While brick-and-mortar will still account for the lion’s share of purchases, online shopping is increasingly making gains as the channel of choice for customers’ holiday season purchases.

According to The NPD Group’s 2016 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, 71 percent of consumers and 79 percent of Millennials plan to do some of their holiday shopping online this year.

Overall, shoppers said they intend to do 57 percent of their shopping in-store, versus 38 percent online. Last year, shoppers said they would do 61 percent in-store, and 33 percent online. And in 2014, they said they would do 64 percent of their shopping in-store, and 29 percent online.

The online channels’ market share is likely to be strongest among Millennials and Gen Xers, with each estimating they’ll do 42 percent of their holiday shopping online.

“Online continues to change the game for retailers because it goes beyond convenience by bringing value and timing into the equation,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group Inc. “Bricks-and-mortar retailers still have the benefit of drawing the majority of holiday shoppers with the in-store experience, but it is clear they are going to have to put their best foot forward in order to maintain a hold on holiday 2016 and future seasons.”

This year, those clicking their way through their holiday shopping lists will also be spending more: Online shoppers expect to spend an average of $710 this holiday season, approximately 60 percent more than the $440 those shopping at bricks-and-mortar stores plan to spend.

Clothing-accessories, entertainment and toys are the top-ranked categories in online and in-store categories, though the tech-electronics category (ranked fourth among online shoppers) is a considerably lower priority among those shopping at bricks-and-mortar (ranked seventh).

Consumers continue to go online to learn more about the products they’re seeking. The survey found that among those who will research products this holiday season, more than seven in 10 plan to do online research and nearly half expect they’ll look at consumer reviews. One in four anticipates using social media (higher among Gen Z: 43 percent, and Millennials: 38 percent), while 14 percent plan on using mobile apps.

Mobile apps, in fact, are increasingly coming out of consumers’ pockets to shop this holiday season. Fourteen percent of U.S. shoppers — including 29 percent of Millennials — said they’ll use their mobile phones to buy gifts this year. That is up more than 130 percent from last year.

“We are at a point where retail must embrace the online shopping culture, not just try to battle it, especially during the critical hopping shopping season,” said Cohen. He said there are opportunities to be had in the relationship between brick and click, maximizing the emotional component of shopping in-store, with the convenience and flexibility of shopping online.

The Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, which was fielded online in September, was completed by 3,499 individuals aged 18 and older.

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