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Survey: Digital to take the lead over in-store in holiday shopping

Holiday lines at stores may be a little shorter this year.

This year — and for the first time ever — a majority of holiday shopping is expected to take place on digital channels rather than in-store, according to the annual holiday report from advertising technology provider OpenX and The Harris Poll. The report found that 53% of all holiday purchases will take place digitally, fueled in part by mobile devices which are expected to account for 20% of all digital purchases. Online (desktop or laptop) will account for 29% of purchases, with smart speakers and other accounting for 4%.

In good news for retailers, nearly one-third of respondents, and half of millennial respondents, plan to spend more on the holidays this year than last year. The study predicts overall holiday spending will increase 5% from 2018. (The outlook is similar to Deloitte’s annual holiday forecast, which call for holiday retail sales to increase between 4.5% and 5% year-over-year in 2019.) The average spend is expected to increase from $819 to $862

Other highlights from the OpenX/Harris Poll report include:

• Millennials are particularly likely to shop via mobile device this holiday season – 69% of millennial respondents will use mobile devices this year, a higher percentage than will use desktops or laptops. Survey data also indicates millennials are planning on spending 15% more than the average consumer, and 25% more than baby boomers. Additionally, 68% of millennials claim to be the primary shopper for their household.

• Fifty percent of shoppers started planning their holiday gifts before September, and 37% had already started making purchases as of August 2019.
• Seven in 10 (69%) respondents admit to shopping at work, and 13% primarily shop online after 11 p.m.

• Sixty-eight percent of people have gotten a gift idea from an ad and 43% have made a purchase after seeing an ad. Additionally, almost one-quarter of all people and 30% of millennials say that ads are the reason they make impulse buys, a higher percentage than word-of-mouth.

“The 2019 report has a number of firsts, including it being the first year consumers expect to conduct the majority of their shopping online and via mobile devices, eschewing in-store experiences for the convenience of digital," said Dallas Lawrence, chief brand officer at OpenX. "This is also the year of the millennial shopper. Millennials are more optimistic about their economic future than any other age group and this optimism will lead them to spend more this year than any group tested. All indications are that the holiday season will be a healthy one for those retailers willing to embrace the important shifts we are seeing in when, where and how consumers are shopping.”

The Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 2,000 people aged 18 years and older in the U.S. on behalf of OpenX.
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