Retail sales are estimated to increase 4.5-5% this year, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday economic forecast.
Consumers plan to spend a total of $1,496 per household this season. E-commerce holiday sales in particular are projected to grow 14-18% over 2018 as consumers again plan to shop online as their preferred holiday channel, with online purchases expected to account for 59% of consumer holiday spending.
Three-quarters of consumers call price an important factor in their purchasing decisions, but price isn’t everything. Consumers continue to focus on retailers’ product quality and variety. Having great products and brands scored highest among all consumers when asked about their key preferences.
As competition increases—particularly from online merchants—consumers may shift to convenience aspects in choosing where to shop, meaning that convenience is growing as a potential differentiating factor.
Understandably, consumers want their holiday shopping to be fast and/or free. Among shoppers who prefer free shipping, over 80% are willing to wait three days or more for order delivery and almost half of consumers plan to use the buy-online-pick-up-in-store option.
Over the last five years, there has been a modest increase in “experience” spending, growing from 38% to 40% of total spend. This means people are planning to travel, dine out and spend more time socializing this season. Two-thirds of holiday shoppers plan on socializing away from home, spending an average of $391.
The top item people report buying for themselves is food and drink. As far as purchasing for others, the gifting of food and liquor for the holiday season is rising, and as this trend continues, there is also a 10% increase in the supermarket/grocery store format.
High spenders are more likely to use technology to shop during the season. Nearly two-thirds plan on using smartphones for shopping, compared to only half for the rest of the population. Consumers are taking advantage of quick access to products, reviews and seamless checkouts, likening smartphone shopping to a point-of-sale anywhere.
Half of shoppers are seeking inspiration or are undecided on products when they begin holiday shopping. Of those, 30% have a category in mind, while 20% reported having no specific items in mind. Two-thirds of consumers plan to browse online retailers to get inspired.
Meanwhile, holiday shopping—which typically peaks around Thanksgiving—has shifted to slightly later. About 70% of consumers say they plan to holiday shop in early December. This is possibly due to the fact that Thanksgiving is unusually late this year, placing Black Friday on Nov. 29 and Cyber Monday on Dec. 2.