As Internet Takes Holiday Lead, Stores Go On Offense

A new survey from Deloitte shows that for the first time, American consumers say the Internet is their most likely destination for Christmas shopping, ousting discount stores and pushing department stores even further down the pecking order. To fight back, chains like Kohl’s, Macy's and JC Penney are flexing their own omnichannel muscle, as well as changing schedules to better compete with discounters.

The good news for all retailers is that Deloitte's survey offers one of the most bullish predictions for the season ahead, forecasting that consumers will spend some 9% more this year than last, or $421. But the study also shows some seismic channel shifting, with 47% now saying they expect to shop  the Internet this year, up from 45% last year. And just 44% say they will shop at discounters and department stores, a big drop from the 51% last year.



One way that department stores are hoping to become more relevant is by opening earlier. Kohl’s is the latest department store to stretch the boundaries of Black Friday, and says it will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and that stores will be open for 28 hours straight -- through midnight Friday nationwide. That follows similar announcements from both Macy's and JC Penney. Until this year, only discounters -- led by Walmart -- had opted for 8 p.m. openings.

Kohl’s is also upping its digital game, and next month will offer a Virtual Snapshot with Santa app, including a partnership with Shutterfly to turn photos into greeting cards, a mobile wallet app that will allow shoppers to track their Kohl’s Cash, and aggressive Social Savings promotions with its 10 million-plus Facebook fans. (Broadcast advertising is scheduled to tie in with "The Voice" and the American Music Awards this holiday.)

Macy's is also tweaking its mobile app so shoppers can plan a personal Black Friday shopping strategy, and view its Black Friday specials beginning Nov. 21, creating customized lists it can share with friends.

Deloitte predicts such innovations will be key, with 68% of smartphone owners and 63% of tablet owners saying they plan to use their devices to help them shop, with smartphones being used more for finding store locations, and tablets more likely to used for browsing and shopping. And 45% — as was true last year — say they will use social media to assist their holiday efforts, as well.

5 comments about "As Internet Takes Holiday Lead, Stores Go On Offense ".
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  1. Al DiGuido from Optimus Publishing, October 23, 2013 at 7 p.m.

    Find myself trying to find what's not surprising about this research study. Media consumption patterns continue to evolve as digital platforms have become the pivot point for all consumer connections. Don't look forward to any change in direction in the coming years. The biggest surprise is just how long it has taken MOST marketers to understand that their target audience is thinking digital first. Etailing is now mainstream...and the question is..where is your marketing strategy in terms of leveraging the new model and driving sales..? As price points on digital devices get more reasonable and adoption increases ( 1/3rd of all US households have a tablet)...Brick & Mortar is going to be an endangered species.

  2. Gian Fulgoni from 4490 Ventures, October 24, 2013 at 2:08 p.m.

    I find these data hard to believe. The Federal Government's Department of Commerce data show that e-commerce is only 10% of all consumer discretionary spending, so I can't see any way in which e-commerce will be higher than in-store spending this holiday season. If Deloitte came to their conclusions by using an online survey of consumers, then the problem is probably caused by the fact that people who join survey panels have been shown to be 3X heavier online buyers then the typical consumer. So, if one asks these folks how much they plan on spending online vs. in-store, one will get an answer totally biased towards the Internet and away from in-store.

  3. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, October 25, 2013 at 4:47 a.m.

    US consumers spend $421 on Christmas shopping. Really? So little???

  4. Robert Falcey from Deloitte, October 25, 2013 at 10:44 a.m.

    Hi Pete, thanks for your comments. A couple important points to clarify: 1) $421 is the average expected spend for the “gift” category alone. 2) We poll respondents across a number of different categories including “gifts,” “socializing away from home,” “entertaining at home,” “non-gift clothing for family or yourself,” “home/holiday furnishings” and “any other holiday-related spending.” The total average spend across all categories is $1,154 this holiday season. The full details of our results can be found at Thanks!

  5. Robert Falcey from Deloitte, October 25, 2013 at 12:13 p.m.

    Hi Gian, as background, Deloitte polls a nationally representative sample of 5,000 consumers and has a margin of error for the entire sample of plus or minus one percentage point. You are correct that our survey was conducted online however this is a common practice among most market research firms today. It is important to note that Deloitte did not poll respondents on how much they intend to spend by channel, i.e. online versus in-store. Instead, we asked respondents at which destinations they intend to shop this holiday season. The data was telling because 47 percent of respondents said they intend to shop the “Internet,” making it the No. 1 destination for the first time in its 15 years represented in the survey. Importantly, we are not saying that people will spend more online than in-store. The full details of our results can be found at Thanks!

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