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This Holiday Season, Cyber Monday’s Popularity Could Turn Black Friday Blue, Survey Says

October 22, 2019, 10:31 AM UTC

This holiday season, the majority of consumers will go online to handle most of their gift shopping, according to Deloitte’s 2019 Holiday Survey of Consumers. The consulting firm surveyed 4,410 people about their spending plans this season, and though the firm is optimistic about growth, the survey found that consumers are slow in adopting new methods of shopping. Instead, they seem to be taking advantage of innovations that enable them to shop smarter, or buy what they would normally buy, but in a more informed way.

“Since 2012, the holiday spend has grown at a 5.4% CAGR, so we expect it to be a really, really good holiday season,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman and U.S. retail lead at Deloitte. Of this season’s spending, 59% will take place online, 36% in-store, and 5% through catalogs. The top retail spending category will be clothes (26%), followed by food/beverage and health/wellness (20%), toys and hobbies (17%), and electronics (15%).

As in Accenture’s report released earlier this month, it seems Black Friday is falling out of favor, as more early bird holiday shoppers opt to skip both the mall and Main St. shops by buying online on Cyber Monday. “The amount of reliance on Cyber Monday over Black Friday is also one of those new things we’ve just noticed,” Sides said.

But even with the survey results showing online spending beating out dollars spent on trips to the mall or Main St. shops, consumers won’t be putting purchasing or delivery innovations to use. “We have not found the new killer app that people are looking for, they’re using standard methods of receiving goods,” Sides said. “A lot of the innovations that retailers are putting in, curbside pickup, lockers in stores, they’re not really going to use that as much as you might have imagined.” Voice-assisted ordering also hasn’t caught on; consumers are still using store apps or web browsers to make purchases and review products.

Still, mobile purchasing is being adopted. “We’re finding that the adoption of smartphones as a commerce vehicle is there, so about 70% of the folks who are using their smartphones say they’re actually going to make a purchase, and that has steadily increased over the years pretty dramatically,” Sides said. “Two years ago, it was 59%, it was 67% last year, and it’s up to 70% this year.”

This year, Deloitte separated consumers into two categories based on spending—”high-spenders” and “others”—to analyze their habits. “The top 20% of the folks in terms of spending are going to account for 60% of the total holiday spend,” Sides said. Across each retail category, the firm broke down the spending between high-spenders and others, and high-spenders’ purchases in clothing, food and beverage/wellness, and toys will be within 12 percentage points of others’ spending. But high-spenders are likely to spend much more on indulgences like electronics, home goods, and travel. In the travel category, the top 20% of shoppers will do 71% of the spending.

Part of the reason that online shopping continues to grow in popularity,—at least, according to Deloitte—is convenience. “When we ask people what is the most important element for them in terms of the shopping, we find that it is product, price, and convenience,” Sides said. “Price is pretty transparent across the board, we can all figure out the best price for the product we want, product quality is always important, but being able to get it in a convenient manner, that’s why I think online wins today in holiday.”

Though retailers are in the midst of adapting to (or struggling to adapt to) omnichannel retail, a.k.a. a retail experience that integrates online with in-store, the majority of consumers are cross-referencing their gift plans online and in-store. Sixty-nine percent said they would research a gift online and purchase it in-store, while 57% said they would research in-store and purchase online. And 45% said they would be likely to make a purchase online and pick up in store.

In terms of social media, only 23% of respondents plan to use it to inform their holiday shopping. Of that 23% of respondents, 60% plan to read reviews, 53% plan to browse products, and 52% plan to find promotions.

And those social media influencers brands love to woo? They won’t have much influence this year. Influencer recommendations did not rank in the top three uses of social media.

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