ICSC: It’s beginning to look a lot like a brick-and-mortar holiday

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Christmas shoppers

Physical stores will be a crucial part of a strong holiday spending season.

According to the new Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), holiday spending in 2019 will increase 4.9% from the previous year for a total of $832.3 billion. The average adult will spend $683 on holiday-related items. 

The study also found that 90% of U.S. adults plan to shop in-store for gifts and other related goods, and 97% of holiday shoppers plan to shop with a retailer that has a physical presence. Promotions will drive in-store visits, with over 60% of respondents saying that searching for deals encourages them to make more trips to physical stores. 

In addition, 82% of customers who pick up an online purchase in-store are likely to make an additional purchase while there. The survey also found that 87% of respondents plan to research online before going to stores, and 82% of respondents who have a mobile device will use it in-store to compare prices, get digital coupons and check inventory.

The majority of holiday shopping will take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, with 86% of respondents planning to complete their shopping during that time period. Additionally, almost 60% of respondents plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend, with that number jumping to 73% for millennial shoppers. 

Topping the list of items shoppers will purchase this year are gift cards (63%), apparel/footwear/accessories (55%), toys/games (48%) and food/alcohol (43%). Holiday shoppers planning to buy electronics plan to spend most on video games/consoles (53%) and smartphones/accessories (50%). For children ages 0-12, the expectation is that 92% will ask for toys this year, and for those ages 13-19 gift cards are the gift of choice (61%).

“Our annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey once again shows that consumers are not only optimistic about the upcoming holiday season, but also continue to favor physical stores when shopping for gifts,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “Consumers expect convenience and experience when shopping, which means that those retailers with a good omnichannel strategy will likely see success this holiday season.”

The ICSC Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey was conducted online by Engine Insights on behalf of ICSC Sept. 16–18, 2019. The survey represents a demographically representative sample of 1,003 U.S. respondents.