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ICSC: Consumers to balance in-store, online shopping for holidays

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Most (70%) of shoppers expect to start holiday shopping before Thanksgiving.
ISCS's latest survey sheds light on consumer habits ahead of the holiday season.

The vast majority of holiday shoppers plan to shop in-store and online this holiday season, with expected spending projected to be split between the two segments.

According to the 2023 ICSC Holiday Intentions Survey, nearly nine in 10 (87%) consumers are expected to head to brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season, while three-quarters of respondents said they plan to make a purchase online and have the items shipped to them.

Between in-store and online, 41% of consumers' total expenditures is expected to spent at a physical store, while 42% is expected to be spent online, and 17% is expected to be spent on click-and-collect.

The survey also found that consumers are planning to consolidate their purchases across fewer retailers this holiday season.The average number of retailers is 2.4, compared to 3.4 in 2022. Discount department stores remain the most popular stop for 63% of shoppers, while traditional department stores are the second-most popular destination at 34%, followed by electronics stores at 22%.

During those shopping trips, ICSC found that most consumers plan to pay with a debit (63%) or credit (50%) card. Nearly half (48%) expect to pay with cash, while 14% will opt for buy now, pay later options.

As retailers continue to roll out seasonal assortments and deals earlier, 79% of consumers are planning to start shopping for the holidays earlier than they normally would, with one-in-four having already started their holiday shopping in August or earlier. Of the consumers who plan to shop earlier for the holidays, 51% do so for the early promotions.

“We expect a positive holiday shopping season this year as consumers continue to spend in spite of economic headwinds,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “This year’s forecast shows the industry is balancing itself out after rapid growth over the last few years, setting retailers up for another successful holiday season.”

In other highlights from the survey, 80% of shoppers expect to spend about the same as or more than they did last year during the holiday season, a slight increase compared to the 73% of consumers who said the same in 2022.

Four-in-10 (42%) consumers attributed their expectation for increased spending to inflation and the increased cost of holiday items, while 54% plan to spend less for the same reason. A similar number (38%) said they expect to spend more as holiday deals and promotions provide more value for their spending. Of those who plan to spend less, 43% said it was due to a change in budget, regardless of job status or income.

The 2023 ICSC Holiday Intentions Survey was conducted online from Sept. 22-24, 2023, representing a demographically representative sample of 1,007 respondents.

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