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Shoppers Flipping the David Vs. Goliath Narrative This Holiday

The David vs. Goliath narrative in retail frames small mom-and-pop retailers as the helpless little guys being steamrolled by Goliath in the form of Amazon and its seemingly bottomless resources.

And while there’s certainly some truth to that understanding of Amazon’s outsize influence in the industry, this holiday consumers don’t see their options as an “either/or” scenario as they’re planning to give their business to both.

Following the channel trend established in recent years, a majority (63 percent) of shoppers plans to patronize online and offline businesses for their seasonal shopping needs, according to a new survey by Splitit, a payment solution that lets consumers divide their purchases into fee-free monthly installments on their credit or debit cards.

The survey responses, culled from 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18-65, revealed that while more than half (54 percent) intend to buy their gifts and other holiday goods from Amazon, another 42 percent will be patronizing their local mom-and-pop shops, indicate relative parity between the industry leader and small business.

Queried about when they plan to spend, most (33 percent) can be classified as procrastinators who’ll be shopping close to Dec. 25, Splitit said. A similar number (32 percent) will be snapping up deals on Black Friday, which is expected to draw the highest footfall of the season in the U.S., according to ShopperTrak, the traffic data analytics firm. Cyber Monday’s digital deals are projected to draw more than a quarter (26 percent) of respondents, while 18 percent of survey takers expressed intentions to participate in Small Business Saturday benefiting Main Street outfits.

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Half of all shoppers have apparel and footwear on their shopping lists, a positive development for an industry that’s had the dark cloud of tariffs lingering overhead for months. But unlike a previous holiday survey that paints the picture of consumer economic optimism and more funds earmarked for the season, Splitit’s research finds most customers mindful of their year-end spending, with more than half (56 percent) intending to keep their budget at $500 or below.

As holiday shopping shifts online, retailers must be prepared to handle the influx of traffic, especially around the season’s critical doorbuster days.

“Black Friday is the biggest sales event of the year, and built-up expectations result in an incredible door-busting mentality online,” Mario Ciabarra, Quantum Metric founder and CEO, said. “Last year, one of our Fortune-500 retail customers experienced a 500 percent traffic increase, while another saw revenue increase more than 12 times compared to the average Fridays prior.

“In order to make sure that customers do not leave disappointed and empty-handed, retailers must diligently prepare for the influx of potential customers,” Ciabarra added. “Their Black Friday experience must be seamless and rewarding—turning rage-clicks and refreshes into revenue opportunities, or they risk losing customers to competitors.”

More than one third (36 percent) of consumers responding to Quantum Metric’s survey said they’ll abandon sluggish websites for a better-performing rival when doing their holiday shopping. The company said one particular retailer saw its conversion rate drop by half due to a six-second delay in webpage load times.

And out-of-stocks will compel 48 percent of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers to find what they’re looking for at a competitor, with Quantum Metric noting that consumers won’t even bother to use a wait-list feature.

The holiday season brings out these tactical shoppers in droves, and Gen Z’s young consumers, with their limited budgets, are concerned about making their dollar stretch. Seventeen percent of people ages 18-24 are interested in deferred payment plans that enable trying out products before committing to them financially. More than one fifth (22 percent) of all consumers said they’d spend more during the holidays if they had the option to buy now and pay later. Eight percent claimed they’ll be using this kind of deferred payment option this holiday season and another 18 percent would take advantage if it were offered.

“Flexible payment options are a great way to not only help consumers manage their cash flow and their worries about debt, but to give local merchants a fighting chance this holiday season,” Splitit co-founder and CEO Don Gil said. “Consumers want to see that the retailers they frequent truly care about them; by offering innovative payment solutions, merchants big and small can make their consumers feel heard and keep them coming back.”