It's going to be an e-comm Christmas

Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
Gina Acosta profile picture

More than half of holiday shoppers expect their budgets to go to online spending, according to Deloitte's 32ndAnnual Holiday Survey of consumer spending intentions and trends.

Respondents intend to spend 51 percent of their budget online, compared with 42 percent in-store. In last year's survey, online and in-store comprised an equal share, at 47 percent each. Until this tie in 2016, people planned to spend more in-store.

"Whether a retailer is online or store-based, their digital influence is one of the strongest cards to play this holiday season," said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader. "Even though 80 percent of people said they expect the majority of their shopping will fall in late November onward, decisions about where they'll shop and what they buy will be largely determined by the digital interactions occurring now. In the survey, we found that retailers have a 75 percent probability of converting a desktop or laptop shopper to a purchaser along with a 59 percent probability of converting a smartphone shopper."

Higher-income households are even more inclined to buy online: Those earning $100,000expect 57 percent of their spending will be online, and 39 percent in-store.

Online destinations are also widening the gap among places consumers plan to shop for gifts. This year, 55 percent of respondents plan to shop online for gifts, increasing its lead over mass merchants at 44 percent. Department stores are a distant third at 28 percent, down 3 percentage points from last year.

When shopping on a smartphone, more people are inclined to use dedicated retailer apps or payment apps when making purchases. Roughly 1 in 5 (22 percent) of respondents using smartphones for holiday shopping think they'll pay for purchases in-store with a mobile wallet app. However, nearly twice that number, 40 percent, anticipate using a retailer's app on their smartphone; and 36 percent plan to use a mobile payment app during the holiday season.

Gift cards and clothing tie for the No. 1 gift people intend to purchase, with nearly half of respondents (49 percent) planning to buy these items for others this holiday season. Electronics (42 percent), gift cards (39 percent) and cash (36 percent) are what people say they want most this year.

Deloitte's survey reveals a healthy uptick in higher-end category purchases over the past five years. The percentage of people who plan to buy jewelry as a gift rose from 18 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2017; and the cosmetics/fragrances/health and beauty category grew from 18 percent to 29 percent.

More than half (53 percent) of people say they prefer to buy gifts that are indulgences that people may not buy for themselves.

The holiday season is also a prime occasion to splurge on oneself: More than 4 in 10 (44 percent) say they'll wait for holiday sales to buy other larger or big ticket items for themselves or their household. Half (50 percent) of respondents say they'll shop for themselves while shopping for others.

"The amount people are actually spending on gifts remains steady compared with prior surveys, but we've watched the mix of total holiday spending shift incrementally over the last five years," said Sides. "It's the lure of shopping and the experience that is flourishing and likely to remain in high demand — all which bodes well for retailers that have created an experience blending one-of-a-kind items, inspiration, uncomplicated navigation and frictionless transactions."

The full survey results can be found here