ICSC: Consumers Boosted 2015 Holiday Spending

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ “Holiday Consumer Purchasing Trends” study, 40% of shoppers said they spent more in this past gift-giving season than they did in 2014, with 33% spending the same amount and 23% spending less. The organization reported that 198 million American adults made holiday purchases at a physical store this holiday season, defined as November 1 to December 25.

ICSC stated that 91% of consumers shopped brick and mortar retailers this past gift-giving season. Study participants said that seeing, touching, and trying on merchandise was the foremost reason to shop in store, cited by 32%. Right behind, 26% of consumers said that the ability to browse was a crucial reason to shop in store and 24% said the ability to get the item right away was critical. Shoppers also liked the ease of returning and exchanging products in store, with 20% electing to shop in-store for that reason.

Still, technology had a big impact on the holidays, as 60% of seasonal shoppers used a mobile device while in stores to compare prices, check availability and view reviews/ratings, among other functions. In addition, 56% of holiday shoppers researched products before they entered stores, and 32% used the click and collect method, with 69% of those shoppers purchasing additional items in the store where they picked up items purchased online and 36% buying something in an adjacent store.

Gift cards provide consumers with another option as they pursue their gift-giving season agenda. So, it’s not surprising that 62% of holiday shoppers laid out cash in return for gift cards, with an average spend of $145. Half of consumers received a gift card this season. Of those that did, ICSC determined, 43% said that they would most likely redeem them in February or later with 39% saying they would use their gift cards in January and 18% during the last week of December.

“Looking back at the holiday season, the major trend that emerged is the prevalence of the omnichannel consumer and the resulting convergence among brick and mortar and digital retail,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “The story of bricks versus clicks is an old one. The story is now one of a shopper getting the best of both worlds, using online research and capabilities to inform physical purchases. The American consumer has sent a clear message that the physical store remains at the epicenter of the shopping experience.”