Traditionally, consumers in the United States have established strict lines between traditional and online retail, however, the new study finds shoppers and retailers embracing "blended retail" this year.
"The traditional division between online and in-store retailing continues to shift and blur," says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group. "Traditional store retailers are upping their online games these days, while they are also finding ways to drive traffic to stores with improved efficiency, more entertaining shopping experiences and better value. Online retailers are also finding ways to blur the retail divide in their own ways, offering lower prices and shipping options that get products to consumers faster than ever."
More than 77 percent of shoppers plan to do some holiday shopping on the web, with Amazon among the top list of anticipated e-retail destinations.
In addition, more than 70 percent planto shop online only; 42 percent intend to shop offline at mass-merchant and discount locations; 24 percent at national chains; and 23 percent at department stores. Six out of 10 will shop at both online and brick-and-mortar shops, a 3 percent gain year-over-year. Online shopping plans have increased by 4 percent compared to 2017 and 6 percent compared to 2016. Online shoppers are expected to spend an average of $748 around the holidays, 50 percent more than the $492 planned at brick-and-mortar.
"While their sales are growing, retailers selling primarily online shouldn't rest on their past success," says Cohen. "They have to continue to find ways to close the deal more effectively and reduce the number of digital shopping carts abandoned before the final sale is completed."
Online shopping is impeded by customer fears over package theft after delivery. However, most shoppers plan to have packages delivered despite 17 percent having packages stolen in the past.
"While stolen packages are certainly a frustration, they may not have a large impact deterring typical delivery of online purchases," adds Cohen. More than half of all consumers will use Amazon.com for product research, with 37 percent looking to consumer reviews and search engines.
"Where shoppers make their buying decisions is a critical step in the holiday-shopping process," says Cohen. "Product research increasingly happens online first at major shopping sites and on social media, these days. TV, magazines and catalogs are far less important than they once were."
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