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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : October 23, 2013

Internet supplants discount stores to become top Christmas shopping spot

Good news for online retailers heading into the festive period. Not only will consumers be spending more this holiday season than last but, for the first time in Deloitte's Annual Holiday Survey, the Internet was ranked as the top place to shop.

by Helen Leggatt

Last year, the average shopper spent $386 on holiday gifts. This year that figure is set to rise to $421. But, just because consumers are spending more, doesn't mean they won't challenge retailers in terms of product choice and availability. More than three-quarters of consumers (77%) say that if a product is not available on a store's website they will go elsewhere and 44% fully intend to take up retailers' price-matching deals.

For the first time in Deloitte's 15 year history of the holiday survey the Internet was ranked ahead of all other shopping destinations. Almost half (47%) plan to shop online this year, compared with 44% who plan to shop in value/discount department stores. Almost one in four intends to spend 38% of their holiday shopping budget online.


"That shift bodes well for retailers as it suggests shoppers are no longer exclusively price driven," says Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte. "However, immediacy, service and selection will be paramount this year, and retailers need to offer a seamless, easy to navigate experience between their online, mobile and brick-and-mortar channels. This season's winners will use both their stores and distribution centers as virtual warehouses to quickly replenish inventory on hot sellers, shift slow-moving items to other locations, and/or ship an out-of-stock item directly to the customer."

The importance of stock management among an increasingly mobile-using consumer base can not be underestimated. Recent research in the UK from digital solutions provider Venda found that poor stock management is costing retailers billions in revenue. Their survey of 2,043 UK adults found that 38% of consumers have left a store empty-handed, not because of price, but because what they wanted wasn't in stock or was unavailable in the right size, style or color.

And, talking of mobile, Deloitte found that smartphone owners will spend more than non-smartphone owners - $480 vs. 378. And, almost two-thirds (63%) of tablet owners plan to use their device for holiday shopping tasks such as shopping and browsing online (69%), comparing/checking prices (59%) and finding product information (58%).

According to Deloitte's 2013 holiday survey (.pdf), the government shutdown and debt crisis had the potential to negatively affect consumer spending and outlook this year. However, "the settlement likely averted any significant impact on the holiday season" and "the timely resolution of those issues may also give consumers an extra confidence boost just as promotions start hitting the stores and the shopping season gets underway".

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: Christmas, ecommerce, holiday 2013 trends, online shopping, smartphone, tablet

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