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Despite the rash of store closures, nearly three-quarters of consumers plan to do most of their holiday shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, according to an AlixPartners survey.

The global business advisory firm surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers. This comes on the heels of AlixPartners’ forecast last week of a potential increase in U.S. holiday sales of 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent.

Further, the survey found that 84 percent of consumers said they expect to spend the same or more this holiday season.

The survey revealed that despite massive store closures nationwide, 71 percent of consumers say they plan to do half or more of their holiday shopping in stores this season. That’s the same percentage who said that in an AlixPartners poll a year ago. In addition, this year’s survey found that 88 percent of consumers plan to at least visit stores this holiday season.

The survey showed that 84 percent of consumers said they expect to spend the same or more this holiday season.

The results make clear that retailers face a host of challenges. Nearly 24 percent of respondents in the survey said they’ve been personally affected by store closures, specifically a store they “visit frequently” that has closed in the last 12 months. Of that number, 20 percent are those earning $100,000 a year or more, a valuable group to retailers. However, only 6 percent of all respondents said that if a store they frequently visit closed or closes, they’ll no longer make their purchase. Some 36 percent said they would instead shop at a competitor, suggesting that while sales may not just evaporate, individual retailers may have a difficult time holding on to what they had before.

Faced with an increasingly difficult retail environment this holiday season, 80 percent of those polled  said they have conducted online research as part of their in-store shopping process, including from inside the store itself. That’s up from 62 percent in a similar AlixPartners survey in 2015.

Consumer electronics is the most online-researched category in the survey, with 38 percent of respondents saying they’ve conducted online research. Apparel and footwear have the highest online sales penetration in the poll, with 37 percent of respondents saying they’ve made an online purchase.

“Customer demographics, lifestyles and attitudes are changing, and successful retailers are adjusting accordingly. The retailers that will likely win this holiday will provide customers with truly integrated omnichannel strategies, and will ramp up efforts to drive customers into stores by offering exclusive merchandise, engaging experiences, and knowledgeable and helpful sales associates,” said Roshan Varma, a vice president in the retail space at AlixPartners and an author of the survey.

Joel Bines, cohead of the AlixPartners’ retail practice and a managing director of the firm, added, “Our survey suggests that companies won’t be facing anything like the so-called retail apocalypse this holiday season, but they certainly will be facing a difficult conundrum – how to deal with an unprecedented mix of increasingly complex channel, customer and competitive dynamics. The winners in this environment will likely be those who truly master ‘clicks-and-bricks’ strategies, without short-shrifting the ‘bricks’ part. Also important is localizing assortments, marketing and promotions to match today’s fast-changing markets, including at the regional level and below. And last but not least, making the necessary efforts and investment to understand today’s customer.”

The survey was conducted online Aug. 18 to 23 and polled 1,061 adult consumers across all major regions, demographics and income levels in the U.S.

 

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