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Deals and BOPIS Will Get Holiday Shoppers Out to Stores

A new International Council of Shopping Centers survey has a bullish view on the holiday season.

On Tuesday, the global trade association revealed a seasonal forecast calling for 8.9 percent growth in November-December shopper spending over last year’s tally. The survey, which polled 1,000-plus consumers between Sept. 24-26, found that retail is expected to pull in $923 billion in sales. Previous industry forecasts called from a general consensus of growth in the 7 percent range.

The majority of adults (90 percent) plans to make holiday-related purchases, with 78 percent spending the same or more than they did during the same period the year prior (about $637), according to the annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey.

What’s more, 75 percent of surveyed shoppers say they plan to hit the stores sooner than they normally would in order to make sure they have access to the goods they want (45 percent) and to take advantage of discounts (42 percent). Another 42 percent said they would begin shopping earlier to ensure that their purchases would be delivered on time.

Deals could play an important role in driving holiday spending, with 80 percent of consumers planning to hunt for bargains. In fact, 38 percent said they will plan their store trips around special promotions.

“Concerns around supply chain issues, shipping delays and inflation are weighing heavily on the minds of consumers and driving them to begin their holiday shopping earlier than usual,” ICSC president and CEO Tom McGee said. “We expect to see strong consumer activity despite these challenges, but it’s critical that retailers and consumers alike plan ahead and do everything they can to mitigate supply chain issues to ensure a successful holiday season.”

According to McGee, omichannel options that offer flexibility and convenience—from buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) to curbside pickup and other services—will be powerful incentives for shoppers. In fact, these services could give e-commerce a 13-percent leg up over last year. But while digital continues to see growth, a majority of shoppers (85 percent) said they still plan to hit brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, 72 percent of shoppers who said they would use BOPIS said they were likely to make additional buys while picking up their orders.

Despite e-commerce’s growth and popularity, 37 percent of survey takers expressed a desire to touch, see and try on merchandise, while 34 percent appreciate the instant gratification that comes with an in-store purchase. Another 30 percent believe the experience of physically exploring retail would spur new purchasing ideas.

And unlike last year, when commerce centers struggled for foot traffic, shoppers are planning to supplement their retail excursions with restaurant visits. ICSC’s findings showed that food and beverage establishments could see as much as 35.4-percent year-over-year growth, as more than 75 percent of consumers who plan to visit shopping centers expect to shop, dine and use personal services during their trips.

“Strong retail spending has driven a significant economic recovery this year despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and consumers continue to return to pre-pandemic behaviors in the face of uncertainty,” McGee added. “Consumers have remained resilient throughout 2021, which I am confident will continue during and after the holiday shopping season.”

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