Physical stores drove sales this past holiday season, with 91 percent of consumers choosing brick-and-mortar retailers, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The ICSC, which today disclosed the results of its Holiday Consumer Purchasing Trends study, said the strength in brick-and-mortar is “largely due to the technological advancements on the part of retailers and the [savvy] of consumers.”

The study, conducted online on Dec. 28 to 30 by Opinion Research Corp., found that 40 percent of consumers said they spent more this season than in 2014. Further, 198 million American adults made holiday purchases at a physical store this past holiday season from Nov. 1 through Dec. 25. Thirty-two percent of respondents said seeing, touching and trying on merchandise was the number-one reason they shopped in a store.

Respondents also said they were using technology to help with their purchases. Sixty percent said they used their mobile device while shopping in-store to compare prices, check availability and view reviews and ratings. In addition, 56 percent said they researched products before they entered the store.

Tom McGee, president and chief executive officer of ICSC, said, “One-third of the people who bought online went to a physical store to pick it up, and 70 percent of those then picked up something incremental.”

According to the survey results, on average 62 percent of holiday shoppers spent on gift cards, with an average spend of $145, with February or later the most likely time for recipients to redeem the cards. Further, 48 percent of shoppers made a purchase in the apparel/footwear and electronics/devices categories this holiday season.

McGee said, “The major trend that emerged is the prevalence of the omnichannel consumer and the resulting convergence among brick-and-mortar and digital retail….The story is now one of a shopper getting the best of both worlds, using online research and capabilities to inform physical purchases.”

The ICSC is the trade organization for shopping centers, with more than 70,000 members in more than 100 countries.

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