The rush for holiday shopping proved positive for those buying gifts online, with November seeing a 15 percent increase in online sales compared to previous years. However, brick-and-mortar stores continued to coerce shoppers into stores with last-minute deals and late store hours, as was the case with Kohl’s and Macy’s staying open late on Christmas Eve.
“People still like the store experience, and it’s not just an age thing,” Bill Thorne, NRF senior vice president for communications and public affairs, told WGN radio in an interview. “If you look at the polls, millennials still like to hang out at malls and have that experience. While online continues to grow, it won’t have a major impact on people’s desire…to go to stores and see, touch and feel products. They do a lot of good research online, then go out and decide whether they want to buy it at the price point they want. It’s a constant evolution.”
According to Thorne, a strong omnichannel presence serves as a factor in what could make or break a brand. He said investing in an online component will be what separates winners from losers during the busy season.
“Those who have talked to consumers to determine what they want, how they want it and when they want to get it are the ones that are going to have repeat customers,” he said. “The biggest problem is when people don’t have (a good experience) online they’ll fill their cart, leave it and not come back. Retailers that have really prioritized making that a good experience, then bring them into the store for an even better experience, are the winners.”