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Holiday sales wrap-up: In-store holds its own

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Though online was the star of the strong 2017 holiday retail sales season, the period also brought good news for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Consumers did their holiday shopping through a variety of channels, yet still 90% made purchases in a physical store, according to the annual Post-Holiday Shopping Survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

And it appears the omnichannel strategies of brick-and-mortar retailers are working. The survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults found that 40% used click and collect for holiday purchases, and 46% ordered online from retailers with a physical presence and had their items shipped to their home.

Of note: 90% of shoppers who used click and collect purchased additional products once in stores, ICSC reported. Meanwhile, 62% of holiday shoppers ordered from pure-play online retailers.

What swayed shoppers to visit physical stores? Forty-four percent of those polled cited the ability to see, touch, browse and try on items; 36% said they wanted to take advantage of deals/promotions; and 34% indicated that they wanted to get items immediately as the chief reasons for shopping in-store.

At the same time, customers integrated mobile into their in-store shopping experience. ICSC said 53% used mobile devices to compare prices, 37% checked for inventory/ product availability and 36% searched for discounts or coupons.

In terms of the most popular retail venues for the holiday season, 66% of consumers surveyed said they shopped at discount stores such as Target or Walmart, followed by 47% who shopped at traditional department stores like Macy’s or Nordstrom. The third most-frequented stores for the holiday season were supermarkets and wholesale clubs, where 34% of respondents made a purchase.

And despite ongoing debate about the holiday promotional blitz kicking off too early and impacting Black Friday, ICSC observed that retailers benefited from the longer season. The survey revealed that nearly 30% of customers started holiday shopping in October or earlier, while 51% finished their shopping the week before Christmas. Ten percent reported that they wrapped up their shopping on Super Saturday, which ICSC said indicates the shopping season runs right through the final holiday weekend.

Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC, noted that “consumers are going where the experiences are,” including to shopping centers.

“Overall, the 2017 holiday season was a big win for retailers,” McGee stated. “As we begin 2018, both shopping centers and their tenants need to continue to innovate and deliver the products, experiences and services that consumers expect.”


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