When shoppers hit the stores this holiday season, they ended up spending a little more than they planned.
The International Council of Shopping Center’s Post-Holiday Shopping Survey found that consumers spent $711 on gifts and holiday-related items. That’s $27 more in holiday spending than consumers planned on in October and a 16 percent rise from a year earlier, when consumers spent $611, according to the shopping center trade group. Half of holiday shoppers made a purchase in the apparel and footwear category.
Overall measures of holiday sales predict steady, but much slower, gains in holiday sales, in the neighborhood of 3.5 to 4 percent. The ICSC’s online survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corp., which polled a total of 1,030 adults on Dec. 27 and 28.
In October, the ICSC projected a 3.3 percent spending increase for 2016 and a spokeswoman on Tuesday said the group continues to expect a final result close to that.
“Consumer confidence continued to improve into December and we saw this optimism reflected in the holiday spending numbers,” said Tom McGee, president and chief executive officer of the ICSC. “The strong holiday shopping season suggests a positive environment for retail sales overall.”
Including dining, movies and other mall and shopping center diversions, consumers spent an average of $897 this past holiday, the survey showed.
Gen X was the top-spending demographic, shelling out $1,000 on average, while Baby Boomers spent $875 and Millennials spent $867.
Experiences accounted for 20 percent of expenditures and appealed most to Millennials, who spent $220 in the area.
While shoppers are more digital than ever, they continue to spend most of their dollars in the stores. The ICSC found that 91 percent of holiday spending happened at physical stores, the same percentage as in 2015.
“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. “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.”
The survey found Millennials were using technology to augment their shopping.
Of those who used a device while shopping in a store:
• 52 percent compared prices.
• 40 percent checked availability/inventory.
• 37 percent got digital discounts or coupons.
• 33 percent read reviews/ratings.
While brick-and-mortar retailing remains important, it’s also become a less profitable proposition since much of the overall growth in sales is going to the digital channel, where returns and shipping squeeze margins.
Debt watchdog Fitch Ratings predicted that U.S. retail sales this year, excluding automobiles and gasoline, would grow 3 to 4 percent, with more than half of that growth going on web players.