Payments technology company InComm released its 2019 Holiday Index, which found, for the second year in a row, that in-store shopping will be the most popular retail channel among consumers this holiday season.
Based on survey responses from nearly 2,500 U.S. consumers, the report also concluded that gift cards are the top-ranked item on holiday gift lists, with a majority of shoppers planning to supplement these gift cards with additional items to provide a personal touch for recipients.
“This year, we found that consumers value their in-store experiences — in fact, most will make several shopping trips to their favorite brick-and-mortar locations in preparation for the holidays,” said Tammy McGill, Research and Market Insights Manager at InComm. “However, shoppers expect an efficient experience that provides them with holiday gift inspirations, good deals and in-stock products.”
Consumers expect to use in-store shopping to get in the holiday mood. Of our respondents, 31% mentioned the festive decorations, displays and sounds of the season as an important part of their holiday shopping experience.
Moreover, one-quarter of shoppers anticipate discovering inspiring gift ideas they would not have found online. Shoppers also shared their seasonal pet peeves; topping the list of holiday turn-offs are crowds (42%), waiting in line (20%), people’s attitudes (12%) and out-of-stock items (10%).
The takeaway for retailers is that shopping efficiency is the main factor influencing where consumers will shop this holiday season. Almost a quarter of shoppers (24%) cited quick and easy shopping as the primary factor influencing their decisions, while 20% will focus on doorbusters and deals.
Furthermore, 16% of respondents care most about free shipping and delivery, and 13% were influenced by the in-stock availability of specific products or services.
Once again, consumers expressed that they prefer pairing a gift card with another item. Gift-givers reported that doing so made the gift card feel more complete (44% of respondents) and personalized for the recipient (38%).
Pairing a gift card with a related or secondary item is an increasingly popular trend among holiday shoppers — one that can lead to incremental sales for savvy retailers that market complementary items (such as greeting cards) alongside their gift card offerings.
A new question in this year’s Holiday Index asked what consumers typically do with unwanted gifts, and 29% of respondents said they “learn to love” such gifts, while 20% said they try to return these items (demonstrating an opportunity for retailers to leverage a streamlined returns process). A surprising 19% of consumers said they typically regift unwanted items at a later date.