Consumers expect to spend the majority of their budgets — some 51 percent — online, exceeding in-store spending expectations for the first time ever, according to Deloitte’s 32nd annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends.
Deloitte surveyed more than 5,000 U.S. consumers between Sept. 6 and 18. The results showed that 42 percent plan to spend in-store. Last year, online and in-store comprised an equal share at 47 percent each.
Among the key findings of the survey was that gift spending intentions remain stable compared with last year, averaging $430 among survey respondents, who also plan to purchase 15 gifts this year. Roughly one-quarter of the respondents said they plan to give “experiences,” such as concert tickets, vacations and dining out (27 percent), or plan to host and attend holiday events with friends and family (24 percent), rather than participate in a traditional gift exchange.
The survey found that total holiday spending is expected to average $1,226 — including gifts and gift cards, along with non-gift categories (non-gift clothing, home/holiday furnishings, entertaining at home, socializing away from home and other holiday-related spending). That number nearly doubles among households earning $100,000 or more, averaging $2,226.
One key finding was that roughly 81 percent of respondents said their household financial situation is the same or better than last year, up from 63 percent five years ago.
Respondents from higher-income households are more inclined to buy online. Those earning $100,000 expect 57 percent of their spending will be online, and 39 percent in-store.
Online destinations are also widening the gap among places consumers plan to buy their gifts. This year, 55 percent of respondents plan to shop online for gifts, increasing its lead over mass merchants at 44 percent. Department stores are a distant third at 28 percent, down 3 percentage points from last year.
Further, some 22 percent of respondents said they’ll use smartphones for holiday shopping and expect to pay for purchases in-store with a mobile wallet app. However, nearly twice that number, 40 percent, anticipate using a retailer’s app on their smartphone, and 36 percent plan to use a mobile payment app during the holiday season.
When it comes to what categories respondents expect to purchase, gift cards and clothing tied for the number-one gift people plan to buy, with nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) intending to buy these items for others this holiday season. Electronics (42 percent), gift cards (39 percent) and cash (36 percent) are what people said they wanted most this year.
Over the past five years, higher-end categories have gotten bigger play. The percentage of people who plan to buy jewelry as a gift rose to 26 percent in 2017 from 18 percent in 2012. The cosmetics/fragrances/health and beauty category grew to 29 percent in 2017 from 18 percent in 2012.
More than half the respondents (53 percent) said they prefer to buy gifts that are indulgences that people may not buy for themselves. Further, some 44 percent said they’ll wait for holiday sales to buy other larger or big-ticket items for themselves or their households. Some 50 percent said they’ll shop for themselves, while shopping for others.
“The amount people are actually spending on gifts remains steady compared with prior surveys, but we’ve watched the mix of total holiday spending shift incrementally over the last five years,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader.
“Whether a retailer is online or store-based, their digital influence is one of the strongest cards to play this holiday season,” he added. “Even though 80 percent of people said they expect the majority of their shopping will fall in late November onward, decisions about where they’ll shop and what they buy will be largely determined by the digital interactions occurring now. In the survey, we found that retailers have a 75 percent probability of converting a desktop or laptop shopper to a purchaser along with a 59 percent probability of converting a smartphone shopper.”