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’Tis the season for digital shopping

Consumers will be increasingly powering up their computers, mobile devices and virtual assistants this holiday season.

This was according to data from Citi Retail Services (CRS) that revealed that while nearly three-fourths (73%) plan on visiting a brick-and-mortar store to purchase holiday gifts, 57% also plan on turning to their computer to shop. This is followed by 42% of customers who will shop through their mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and 13% who will be turning to their virtual assistant, such as Alexa or Siri, to facilitate their holiday shopping needs.

Millennials and Gen Xers are at the forefront of this shift, with 60% of Millennials and 53% of Gen Xers planning to use their laptops or computer for their holiday shopping this year. Fifty-five percent of Millennials plan on using a mobile device, followed by 48% of Gen Xers. When it comes to voice assistants however, Gen Xers take the lead with 22% employing voice commands, surpassing Millennials at 17%.

With smart speaker ownership poised to dramatically increase (Adobe predicts that smart speaker ownership will rise to 48% of U.S. consumers after the holiday season from 32% in August), voice-driven shopping behavior is likely to rise right along with it, providing retailers with a year-round opportunity to seamlessly connect with consumers and drive brand loyalty, the study reported.

As consumers adopt new means to shop for the holidays, they continue to leverage innovative ways to extend their purchasing power. Eighty-four percent of consumers plan to shop at a store where they are a rewards member, specifically so that they can accumulate discounts and/or rewards points. Meanwhile, 60% of rewards members have opted not to use their rewards on purchases throughout the year so they can allocate them toward a holiday gift.

Further, more than one-quarter of shoppers (26%) anticipate they will save an impressive $200 or more this holiday season, thanks to their rewards programs. And, again, Millennials and Gen Xers lead the way with 33% and 28%, respectively, expecting to save $200 or more by leveraging rewards.

With eight out of ten (83%) consumers currently enrolled in at least one rewards program, and one in four (26%) belonging to five or more, there's an immense opportunity to engage consumers in these crucial moments. Consumers are also keenly aware of which rewards programs they are enrolled in, with nearly nine out of 10 (88%) – and 95% of Millennials – confirming they are more loyal to stores where they are a rewards member.

"What we're seeing is that technology is altogether reshaping the holiday shopping season," said Leslie McNamara, chief marketing officer and head of workforce development, Citi Retail Services. "Consumers are turning to connected devices to purchase gifts in droves and for retailers, this means rethinking their marketing strategy to encompass a robust strategy – including voice technology – to reach consumers in their evolving channel of choice and ensure a seamless shopping experience."

Among those who will buy gifts this holiday season, over a third (37%) plan on spending more than they did last year, and 69% plan to kick off their holiday shopping before, or on, Black Friday. While Millennials and Gen Xers are getting a head start on their shopping (74% of Millennials, and 77% of Gen Xers are starting to shop before, or on, Black Friday), 40% of Boomers will start their shopping after Black Friday.
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