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Deloitte: More Consumers Will Shop Online Than Off-Price This Holiday Season

Off-price stores may be crushing traditional retail right now but e-commerce looks set to conquer holiday shopping.

Deloitte’s annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends discovered that more consumers than ever before plan to shop online this year. In fact, 50 percent of the 5,000-plus respondents said they would shop e-commerce for gifts, compared with 26 percent who plan to shop at off-price stores and 23 percent at outlets.

That’s not all: survey respondents also said they expect to spend 47 percent of their budget online, matching what they plan to spend at brick-and-mortar stores for the first time. Indeed, Deloitte forecasts a 17 to 19 percent increase in e-commerce sales, reaching $96 to $98 billion between November 2016 and January 2017 and outpacing overall growth. To put that into context, total holiday sales during those months are expected to exceed $1 trillion, representing a 3.6% to 4 percent increase.

Per Deloitte’s data, all shopping venues will lose foot traffic. Only 59 percent of respondents said they will shop at big-box stores, down from 63 percent a year ago, and 50 percent said they will shop at traditional malls, less than last year’s 53 percent. Even purchases made at brick-and-mortar stores will start online and shoppers anticipate mobile devices will account for more than 10 percent of their holiday consumption.

“Today’s connected consumers have a dizzying array of devices, websites, apps and customer reviews literally at their fingertips to help make informed purchase decisions,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman at Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution practice leader. “It should come as no surprise that consumers leverage online research to head into the holiday season with a well-thought-out gift-buying plan.”

But while online retailers will boast increased traffic this holiday season, brick-and-mortar shoppers are ultimately more loyal than their online counterparts, who tend to be more brand-agnostic and price-sensitive. In fact, when faced with an out-of-stock item while shopping online, 77 percent of respondents said they would simply buy it from another retailer’s store or website instead of checking back later.

Some good news for the apparel industry: clothing is still the number one gift that consumers plan to give and continues to rise in popularity, up from 45 percent in 2014 to 50 percent in 2016.