AlixPartners: More shoppers to seek out brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season

Retailers should expect holiday shoppers to integrate their online and in-store activities more than ever this upcoming season.

That’s according to a new survey released by global consulting firm AlixPartners, which also found that 87% of Americans say they will spend as much or more this season, with 36%) falling into the more category. (In a forecast released Sept. 17, the firm predicted an increase in holiday sales of 3.1% to 4.1%.)

Thirty-three percent of consumers plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping online this season, up from 29% in AlixPartners’ survey last year. Only 4% said they don’t plan to make any online holiday purchases at all, versus 7% in last year’s survey. However, brick-and-mortar retail also stood out: A whopping 94% of respondents said they are planning to perform various shopping activities in-store this season—from browsing to trying out products to returning products. That’s up from 88% in last year’s survey.

In another sign that consumers are integrating online and in-store activities into their overall shopping behaviors, 84% of survey respondents said they have conducted online research during the physical-store shopping process, up from 80% in last year’s survey. Also, 34% (up from 39% last year) said if they need to return a holiday item purchased online, they want to be able to return it to a physical store, and 50% (up from 45% last year) said they plan to buy products online but pick them up in a store.
Among other survey findings:

In other survey findings:

• Shopping habits in today’s “trade-war” environment could be a lot different than a year ago, as 48% say they’re willing to switch brands if tariffs on the products they purchase increase prices more than 10%.

• Those polled said that in the past year their percentage of online purchases in 11 major product categories—consumer electronics, apparel and footwear, sporting goods, DIY/hardware, appliances, homes furnishings, luggage/handbags/briefcases, toys, health/beauty/cosmetics, and groceries—has increased versus what they reported in last year’s survey. The toy category saw the biggest jump: to 31% who said they’ve made a purchase, versus 23% in last year’s survey.

• 51% of respondents think the economy is doing better than a year ago, and 45% think it will be even better a year from now.

"For any retailer, whether brick-and-mortar, online, or omnichannel, what’s key this holiday season is flawless execution of the basics,” said David Bassuk, global co-leader of AlixPartners’ retail practice and a managing director at the firm. “And that includes having an integrated strategy of merchandising, marketing, distribution, and customer engagement.”
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