Have you noticed your favorite stores already have their holiday displays up? According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of Americans have started their holiday shopping research – if not purchasing – by now. This statistic and other retail trends are examined in NRF’s 2017 Holiday Planning Playbook, compiled from a survey of 2,000 holiday shoppers who shared their expectations and habits going into the 2017 holiday season.
Among the report’s highlights:
- Retail owners and lessees will be glad to know that brick-and-mortar stores aren’t being abandoned. “NRF’s survey found that 47 percent of shoppers said they browsed physical stores to find the perfect gift idea … Much of consumers’ discovery and inspiration is still happening in the store.” While online shopping remains a convenient, cost-effective and increasingly quick option, continued focus on enhancing the in-store experience is paying off. “There are things customers can’t experience when having products delivered,” the report notes.
- The wish list you sent to Santa as a kid is coming back in a big way. “No longer reserved for weddings and new babies, registries and wish lists are becoming a critical component of the holiday shopping experience.” Almost two-thirds of survey respondents said they’d use these tools.
- The “Yelp effect” is shaping shoppers’ decision making. “Consumers increasingly consider reviews a critical component of the shopping process,” NRF states. Just about all of the shoppers surveyed say they read reviews, though a negative review isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker: “A study from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center found that a fair number of negative reviews can establish trust in the brand. It found that the likelihood of a purchase peaked with an average star rating between 4.2 and 4.5 percent, then lessened closer to 5 stars.”
- Instead of online OR in-store, why not both? Shoppers are demanding more delivery and fulfillment options, including the ability to buy online and pick up in-store. The omnichannel approach has had success for companies like Sephora that are leveraging their digital capabilities to augment their in-store experience. Drawing customers in to stores also has the added benefit of tempting the 7-in-10 millennial and Generation Z shoppers who said they make more impulse purchases over the holidays.