Male hand holding paper shopping bag with red gift boxes inside at Christmas event in department store. Buying present for Xmas holiday and New Year celebration concept

When it comes to shopping expectations, retail executives and consumers just don’t see eye to eye. A survey by First Insight Inc. revealed that retail industry executives are “not aligned with consumers on online and in-store shopping preferences, categories consumers plan to buy, and where they plan to buy,” the company said today.

The Pittsburgh-based predictive analytics firm said in its report that senior retail executives “are not keeping pace with the changing purchase behavior and preferences of consumers,” who are increasingly shopping online. The survey showed that while 59 percent of consumers polled “plan to shop online this holiday season, only 35 percent of senior retail executives believed consumers prefer to shop this way.”

“Additionally, only 41 percent of consumers plan to shop in a physical store, compared to a majority (59 percent) of retail executives who anticipate consumers will head in-store this holiday season,” the authors of the report noted.

Greg Petro, chief executive officer of First Insight, said the data shows “that the consumer has changed forever, but the industry doesn’t understand how much they’ve changed.”

“While the industry has always trailed consumers and has been very good at being responsive and reactive, it’s clear that consumers love to shop online,” he said. “It’s critical that retailers and brands begin to anticipate these shifts now, including what and how consumers are buying, and where. The only effective way to do this is by tapping into the voice of consumers and building the right experiences online and in-store. The industry must stop responding and reacting to consumer behavior, and start anticipating it.”

The report also revealed online conversions of beauty products is less than retailers think. First Insight said while 41 percent of senior retail executives polled “believe that consumers plan to purchase beauty products exclusively online, only 25 percent of consumer respondents agreed.”

But with in-store purchases of beauty products, the divergence was less with “roughly the same number of executives (22 percent) and consumers (23 percent) predicting in-store purchases only.”

With apparel and footwear, 16 percent of executives polled said they believe shoppers are solely buying apparel online this holiday, which compares to 31 percent of shoppers who say they are doing so. “This compares to 8 percent of executives who believe consumers are buying apparel exclusively in-store, compared to 27 percent of consumers,” the company noted.

And with footwear, First Insight found that 11 percent of executives “believe consumers will buy footwear online only, compared to two times more of consumers (25 percent), and while only 8 percent of executives believe consumers will buy footwear exclusively in-store, 29 percent of consumers say they will.”

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