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ICSC Survey: Holiday shoppers will start earlier and spend slightly more than last year

Al Urbanski

Two-thirds of Americans surveyed by the International Council of Shopping Centers said they would begin making holiday purchases before Thanksgiving Day and nearly three-quarters plan to spend the same amount of money or more than they did in 2019.

ICSC predicted spending to increase by 1.9% to a total of $862 billion, with the average family planning to spend $655 on holiday-related items.

Earlier this week, the global real estate services firm CBRE forecasted a 1.5% rise in holiday purchases to a total of $741 billion, adding that the increase was much lower than the 4% averaged over the last decade. CBRE also predicted that 40%, or $235 billion in purchases, would be made online—more than twice as much as last year.

ICSC’s take was that online holiday purchases would increase just 25% this year, though its survey found that 94% of people planned to shop both in-store and online. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they are more likely to visit stores that have strict precautions in place, such as mask requirements, one-way aisles, contact barriers, occupancy limits.

“We expect to see an increase in online shopping activity, which means that those retailers that have implemented an aggressive omnichannel strategy will likely do well during the holiday season,” said the association’s president and CEO Tom McGee.

ICSC’S survey of 1,004 consumers, which was conducted by Engine Insights, also sought out shoppers’ chief pandemic-related concerns. Almost half worried that many products would be unavailable, 43% expected shipping and delivery delays, and 41% feared crowded stores. Fifty-nine percent said they would buy online and pick up at shopping centers more than they have in the past.

When shopping in-store, discount department stores will be favored destinations of 57 percent of those surveyed, followed by traditional department stores (34%) and electronics stores (31%).

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