Holiday Shopping Insights

Posted: November 27, 2018

The holiday shopping break-out continues as we try to drill down to the nitty-gritty on consumer and retail shopping strategy.

You’d expect to see the big-box stores and retailers start their big holiday pushes now, but what about the smaller local retailers? A study by G/O Digital, which polled more than 1,000 U.S. consumers, showed that small to mid-size businesses should already have a holiday plan in place in order to reap the biggest rewards.

Almost half of consumers start thinking about what they’ll be buying for the holiday season before November.

Mentioned in an earlier post, but worth repeating, some 71% of shoppers start their initial holiday shopping plan early by researching online, so retailers need to beef up their digital strategy to include strong search engine optimization. Less than 1% never research online prior to heading in-store.

The survey also cites more than 75% scope for holiday coupons and discounts, with local discounts of 15% or more seeming to be the tipping point of drawing in holiday shoppers.

For brick-and-mortar retailers, consumers like to stay local, with most of the respondents staying within 10 miles of where they live.

Almost 25% of shoppers say they will finish holiday shopping by the end of November.

Email wins as the most effective platform for drawing people from online to in-store. (51%)

The impact of Facebook ads is growing. Almost one-third of respondents said they buy from local merchants based on a Facebook promotion they saw.

Other behavioral changes by consumers cited by Market Track, a leading provider of advertising, promotional, brand protection and pricing intelligence solutions, show that 41% of shoppers surveyed plan to shop online on Thanksgiving versus 11.1% last year, while 36% intend to shop in-store on Thanksgiving this year versus 23% last year.

Market Track’s survey also noted that nearly 75% will turn to back-to-basics print circulars to find deals this holiday, 56% will browse retail websites, 51% will catch sales in TV advertisements.

Consumer efforts to do comparisons will be thwarted by the increased promotion of bundled offers, as well as private label product lines, which will make it harder to compare deals based on price and product features alone.

Another big influencer on shopping behavior will be the in-store experience. Stores will focus on creating events and experiences to drive in-store traffic. Toys-R-Us is creating a play experience where kids can play with the latest and greatest toys in the store. Retailers will also try to draw shoppers in by differentiating the in-store try-before-you-buy experience vs. online shopping, and will create excitement through in-store events with drawings, sweepstakes, and chances to win prizes and gift cards.

According to a Think with Google survey, last year shoppers did a majority of shopping on their smartphones, with almost $1 trillion (28%) of all retail sales influenced by shopping-related mobile searches.

2014 also marked a diverse brand loyalty mix with consumers indicating they were open to change, looking for new stores and new brands for their holiday purchases, often in search of better deals.

Peers seem to be the biggest influencers in video, with peer reviews on YouTube having more influence than “expert” reviews. Eight out of 10 people who viewed online videos benefited from this platform, with 68% preferring peer videos.

For 2015, retailers need to prepare for more informed shoppers and be ready to serve up offers that will drive people to change brands and shop in-store.

The good news for retailers who haven’t yet geared up for the big holiday sales push is that more than half, 55 percent, won’t be anywhere near done until into December and 1 in 5 won’t be done until Christmas Eve.