Physical Stores Are Trending to Win Big this Holiday Season

Physical Stores Are Trending to Win Big this Holiday Season

3 reasons shoppers are checking off their lists off in-store

The holiday shopping season is in full swing and brick and mortar stores are positioned to win big this year. A report released by the International Council of Shopping Centers found that holiday spending will increase 4.9% over last year, with 90% of holiday shoppers making a purchase in-store.1

While online shopping is undoubtedly convenient, it’s the physical retail stores that will be trending big this holiday season. Below are the top 3 reasons shoppers will be checking off their holiday lists in stores.

1) In Search Of Inspiration

According to the Periscope 2019 Holiday Season Shopping Report, the number one concern of holiday shoppers is figuring out exactly which gifts to purchase.2 Shopping in-store helps shoppers find the inspiration they need without endless scrolling online. Right before Thanksgiving, Nordstrom unveiled a new pop-up concept called “Happiness Is” where shoppers can discover uncommon gifts in one area of the department store.

These are the types of experiences consumers are craving when they make the trip to a store during the holiday season. Retailers who take the initiative to enable consumers to effectively cut through the clutter and ease the shopping experience by alleviating customer pain points associated with the in-store shopping experience will be better positioned to succeed during the holidays. 

2) Eco-Conscious Values

The current growing trend of “responsible retail” is increasingly affecting consumers’ decisions on which retailers to do business with. According to Accenture’s 13th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey, today’s consumers are beginning to place greater importance on responsible shopping, even if it means compromising on convenience. 

This means factoring in concepts such as sustainability ethics concerning manufacturing and distribution processes and how certain products are impacting the environment. Given that, shoppers who are are riding the sustainability train are more likely to shop in-store so as to limit the carbon footprint. This extends to what consumers plan on purchasing as well. The survey found that 48% of survey respondents would buy pre-owned gifts, which is why partnerships such as Macy’s and thredUP are a smart play.3

But it doesn’t just end with environmental responsibility. Consumers are also more interested in doing business with companies that make a point to “address wider social issues” by taking steps to improve their business practices and worker conditions. In fact, 45% of respondents claimed they would be “more likely” to shop with a retailer that implemented more ethically sound practices.3 Consumers are particularly eco-minded this year, making brick and mortar stores increasingly popular.

3) Digitally Enhanced Shopping Experiences

The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is shorter this year, so time is of the essence. Shoppers are turning to retailers who successfully blend both the benefits of the digital and physical realms to create a more personalized and convenient shopping experience. More specifically, consumers are looking for ways to cut time wasted navigating large stores and waiting in long lines.

Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) is a popular example of how retailers are creating efficiencies in the shopping process. The GPShopper report found that 53% of those surveyed found waiting in line to be the most stressful part of holiday shopping 4. With BOPIS, customers are able to order their gifts online and pick it up without even leaving the comfort of their car. Companies like Target, who are already capitalizing on BOPIS as well as curbside pickup, can utilize proximity-aware technology to decrease wait times for their customers by alerting staff when a customer is arriving for order pickup. 

Wayfinding has also become increasingly popular with consumers, with a recent IDC InfoBrief citing that  59% of consumers found useful and relevant navigation results to be an important feature that impacted their overall in-store experience. 5 Stores like Lowe’s and Target have wayfinding functionality built into their mobile apps so shoppers can navigate the store with ease. Beacons are powerful sources for indoor navigation and have been used by retailers, hotels, and stadiums for better customer experiences.

Brick and Mortar Stores Continue to Innovate

Consumers definitely value the convenience that digitally-native retailers provide them with, but retailers with physical locations are becoming increasingly savvier in their efforts to capitalize on their strengths. Gimbal Trends data shows a 30.56% lift in foot traffic to retail stores between Black Friday and Cyber Monday from 2018 to 2019, so it’s clear that we aren’t actually facing the death of brick and mortar stores, but instead, a much-needed rebirth and revival in the face of online competition.

1Cross-Channel Convergence Crucial to Holiday Shopping Strategies. ICSC. October 2019.
247% of Shoppers Need Gifting Ideas for the Holiday Season – Research from Periscope® By McKinsey. October 2019.
3Most US Shoppers Expect to Spend as Much or More This Holiday Season than Last Year, with Many Turning to Physical Stores for Inspiration, Accenture Survey Reveals. October 2019.
4Majority of Americans Want to Buy Online and Pick-up In-store to Reduce Holiday Shopping Stress This Year. New GPShopper. November 2018.
5Consumers Show Preferences for Purchases Made In-Store, Survey. IDC InfoBrief. December 2018.

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