holiday shopping

In the International Council of Shopping Centers’ latest consumer poll, shoppers are planning to spend about $470 each this Thanksgiving weekend, with 85 percent saying they expect to shop from the holiday day itself through to the end of Cyber Monday.

The results of the survey also reflect the demand for more of an omnichannel experience as consumers remain wary of COVID-19.

“Among those planning to shop, 44 percent expect to spend more than they did last year,” the ICSC researchers said, adding that report results also “reveal a swell of interest in omnichannel formats, a sign that retailers capable of meeting demand both online and in-person will be best positioned for success in this unprecedented holiday season.”

Tom McGee, president and chief executive officer of the ICSC, said the Thanksgiving holiday weekend “will look different this year due to the pandemic, but consumers will still spend time shopping for holiday gifts and items. Shoppers have become accustomed to omnichannel shopping and will take advantage of it, in addition to going to stores to make purchases.”

In regard to consumer preferences, the ICSC survey showed that 52 percent of those polled “believe Thanksgiving Weekend and Cyber Monday promotions remain as important as ever — down only 1 percent from 2019.” Other findings include that 51 percent of respondents expect to shop on Thanksgiving Day while 72 percent “expect to do so on Black Friday, both figures are in line with the 2019 season.”

The report also showed that 73 percent of respondents said they’ll be shopping on Cyber Monday. Regarding store traffic projections, the ICSC was blunt in its assessment. “Despite these intentions, the volume of shoppers visiting stores is expected to drop this year largely due to concerns over the coronavirus,” the authors of the report said. “Sixty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they would spend in a physical store, down from 84 percent.”

The drop in in-store spending can also be due to an extended holiday season. The ICSC noted events such as Amazon Prime Day and Walmart’s “Big Save Event” swooped up dollar share prior to Black Friday, the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

Still, the ICSC said retailers that have a “physical store presence will continue to capture the greatest share of consumer dollars this Thanksgiving weekend,” noting that the survey revealed “that 91 percent of respondents will buy from retailers with omnichannel offerings; they are projected to capture 67 percent of total expenditure.”

With online, 69 percent of respondents expect to patronize pure-play e-tailers this year, which compares to 58 percent of respondents in the 2019 survey. When asked where they planned to shop, respondents clearly had safety in mind.

“For the first time, deals and promotions did not rank as respondents’ top determinant when choosing where to shop over Thanksgiving weekend,” the ICSC said. “Instead, 36 percent indicated COVID-19 precautions would be the top factor, emphasizing the need for retailers to provide a safe environment and communicate the measures they are taking.”

McGee said malls and shopping centers “are historically a hub for holiday tradition and festivity, so the holiday season may feel different this year as retail spaces contend with the challenges of COVID-19. Nevertheless, as our survey clearly indicates, consumers’ enthusiasm for Thanksgiving weekend shopping remains strong.”