The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) forecasts a 3.8 percent year-over-year growth in retail sales for this holiday season. Additionally, ICSC released its Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey showing that consumers expect to spend on average $728.40 on gifts and other holiday related items. 

Brick-and-Mortar Continues to Succeed in Omnichannel Environment

Consumers continue to demonstrate their preference for making purchases through a variety of channels including in the store, online and click and collect.   In fact, 96% of shoppers plan to make a purchase from a retailer who has both a physical and an online presence, with 91% of shoppers buying at physical locations.

Holiday shoppers will take advantage of omnichannel retailers with 40 percent of them buying online and picking up in-store; 81 percent of those shoppers plan to make additional purchases when collecting their item(s).

“Our annual Holiday Shopping Intentions findings demonstrate that consumers are very optimistic this holiday season and that physical retail remains a cornerstone of the holiday season,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers. “The more agile retailers are in meeting consumers’ demands for the seamless convergence of physical and digital shopping, the more success they will see.”

Millennials Play Major Role in Retail Success

Millennials will play an integral part in this holiday season with 92 percent planning to spend money in a physical store. On average, this demographic plans to spend $554.40 on holiday gifts and related items and will mostly use their debit cards or pay cash (54 percent) when making those purchases.

More than any other age group, Millennials plan to take advantage of discounts on Black Friday (57 percent). Three-fourths of Millennials shoppers plan to spend online at retailers whose stores they also visited and 50 percent of them will buy online and pick up in-store.

“Millennials are by far the biggest disruptor right now. They not only want experience but they want convenience as well which we see in their intent to utilize both online and physical,” stated McGee. “The theory that they are a digital-only generation is simply not true; they want digital to be a part of their transaction rather than the entire transaction.”

The Holiday Season: Starts Early and Goes Beyond Shopping

While November and December remain the anticipated busiest shopping months, ICSC saw an uptick in the number of people planning to shop before Thanksgiving at 66 percent—with almost one third (27%) starting as early as August. The expected extension of the shopping season means the potential of more sales for retailers, as 46 percent of shoppers say they plan to spend more this holiday season.

Consumers also plan on heading to s shopping center for more than purchasing gifts. Eighty-one percent of shoppers will visit a mall/shopping center to eat out (53 percent), catch a movie (32 percent) and/or participate in a philanthropic event or plan to attend a Christmas tree lighting/Menorah lighting/holiday parade (combined activities at 17 percent).

Gift Cards will be Tops Again this Year and Planning Ahead is Likely

The top four categories for purchases this year are:

  • Gift cards – 66%
  • Apparel/footwear – 54%
  • Toys and games – 46%
  • Electronics/devices – 37%

Shoppers (85% of them) plan to research online prior to making purchases in-store. Three-quarters of holiday shoppers who have a mobile device will use it for shopping in a store to compare prices, get discounts and check availability. Nine out of 10 holiday shoppers expect to visit a retailer’s website or app to browse product information.