Deloitte holiday survey: Internet ties discounters as top shopping destination

New York City -- Deloitte’s 26th annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends, released Thursday, found that nearly half (48%) of consumers say they most likely will shop for gifts online this holiday season – a 13% increase from last year. 

This makes the Internet the No.1 shopping destination, now tied with discount stores, for the first time since adding the channel to Deloitte’s annual study.

Online shopping no longer skews to the youngest consumers, according to the survey. While 18-24 year old respondents expect to do an average of 32% of their buying online this holiday season, this is only slightly higher than the 30% of those 45 and older who plan to do the same. 

“Online channels will be the bright spot for retailers this year,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail & distribution leader, Deloitte LLP. “One of the effects of a stagnant economy and persistent inflation on consumers’ psyche is a laser focus on price, now the common denominator.”

Paul said that retailers need to capture consumers’ attention with convenience, wide merchandise selection and in-store and online product availability.

Among consumers surveyed, 48% indicated that competitive prices are the top reason to shop with a particular retailer online followed by free shipping among 20% of respondents. Additionally, 69% are more likely to shop online retailers who offer free shipping.

Nearly half – 44% – of consumers said they plan to use social media sites while holiday shopping. Among this group, 57% will seek discounts and 51% will read reviews and research gift ideas (49%) on social media sites.

Among other survey findings, 87% earning $100,000 or more expect to conduct online research this holiday shopping season, compared with 71% earning $100,000 or less. Among smartphone owners, 41% of respondents in higher income brackets plan to use their devices for holiday shopping, which drops to 24% among those earning $100,000 or less.

More than seven out of 10 (71%) of consumers surveyed engage in multichannel shopping – such as purchasing an item in a store after viewing it online – and 32% believe it is important that retailers have both a store and a website.

Shoppers also rely on their smartphones while browsing retail stores. Among smartphone owners, 27% plan to use their phones for holiday shopping, and 56% will check or compare prices specifically while in a store. Some 38% will scan barcodes to locate product information. More than one-third (34%) will seek discounts, coupons and sale information from their phones while shopping in a retail store this holiday season.

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