Survey: Smartphones don’t dampen holiday in-store spirit

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Consumers will blend the mobile and brick-and-mortar channels this holiday season.

According to the “2019 Holiday Season Shopping Report from Periscope” By McKinsey, 51% of consumers use smartphones to compare prices with competitors while in the physical store. In addition, 33% use smartphones to search for in-store discounts or coupons, and 30% leverage them to look up further product information.

The data shows that for consumers age 18-39, smartphone-enabled in-store activities such as mobile POS, digital displays to view products, self-check-out, and receiving offers on their phones are of particular interest. However, consumers 50-plus, including the 60-69 age cohort, are interested in using smartphones in the store to compare prices/products, read reviews, find coupons, or purchase products they’ve looked at/touched when in-store. 
Looking at consumer responses to different types of holiday marketing messages, the survey found promotional e-mails were by far the most preferred choice for the majority of shoppers in all territories surveyed. Coupons took second spot for shoppers in Germany (36%), Canada (33%), and the U.K. (27%); vying equally with TV and magazine channels for U.S. shoppers at 38%.

Browsing in-store was listed as the top research channel utilized by consumers in Canada (70%), the U.S. (65%), and Germany (63%), while using search engines or browsing retailer websites were the second-most-popular research channel in these three countries. However, the top preference for U.K. shoppers (74%) is browsing retailer websites, followed by browsing in-store.

Asked when they start thinking about shopping for the festive holidays, 52% of female shoppers in the U.K. and 50% in the U.S. said that they start their holiday gift buying in the October-November timeframe, followed closely by 46% of female consumers in Germany and Canada. Meanwhile, the mid-end of October to December timeframe is the ideal window to capture the attention of male shoppers (52% Germany, 50% Canada, 42% U.S., 39% U.K). For women, the focus is on gift purchases for the household and children, while male consumers shop primarily for their partner/significant other (and for themselves).
Consumers in Canada and the US had allocated the highest budgets for their seasonal purchases; 18% of US and 16% of Canadian shoppers expect to spend $1,000 or more. Meanwhile, 14% of shoppers in Germany will spend less than $100. A significant minority of shoppers (13% Canada; 13% UK; 12% Germany; 10% US), say they have not allocated budget this year.

Fifty-two percent of U.S. shoppers 40-49 plan allocate $500 or more on their seasonal shopping this year, along with 46% of U.K. consumers 30-39, while 21% of German shoppers 50-59 lead the spending in Germany. Finally, shoppers between 60 to 69 are expected to the spend the most in Canada (53% of the age group).

Interestingly, 53% of Canadian shoppers depend on holiday catalogues, flyers and newspaper advertisements, along with 40% of U.S., 38% of German, and 28% of U.K. shoppers.
In August 2019, Periscope By McKinsey conducted online research of consumers in Canada (500), Germany (501), the UK (501), and the US (1,020). Respondents were aged between 18 and 69, expressed interest in participating winter shopping events and their responses were selectively evaluated by age category and gender.