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ICSC Bullish on Holiday Sales; Shoppers Armed With Phones

21 Oct, 2015 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – Early predictions on the 2015 holiday shopping season are optimistic. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) says 90 percent of Americans are planning holiday purchases this season, up from 82 percent last year. And overall, 80 percent of shoppers plan to spend the same or more this holiday season than they did in 2014.

The forecast amounts to overall year-over-year growth of 3.3 percent in November/December retail sales. That pace is well ahead of the average 10-year holiday sales growth of 1.8 percent and slightly ahead of the current yearly pace of 2.8 percent.

Jesse Tron, ICSC spokesman, says lower gas prices and unemployment are raising holiday shoppers’ confidence in spending power. “It appears to be shaping up as a solid season for retailers, and if ICSC’s forecast holds, one that would better the average of the previous 10 seasons by 1.5 percentage points,” he says.

The ICSC says Americans are starting their holiday shopping earlier and the stragglers are pushing later. This year, 66 percent of Americans will start shopping before Thanksgiving Day. Only 7 percent expect to be done by Thanksgiving, however, while 65 percent plan to have their holiday shopping complete by Dec. 15.

The survey showed that about 95 percent of holiday shoppers intend to make a purchase in a physical store this year. Their top reasons for doing so include:

  • They like the ability to physically see, touch, or try on the merchandise (46 percent)
  • They don’t want to pay for shipping (36 percent)
  • The sales they want are only offered in store (30 percent)
  • They find it easier to return or exchange items at a store (28 percent)
  • They enjoy the convenience of one-stop shopping (27 percent)

But even with most money changing hands in stores, mobile’s influence on sales will remain strong, according to a new report from RetailMeNot. Most shoppers (62 percent) will make a purchase as a result of a notification or offer sent to their mobile device while in a store.

And 42 percent of shoppers are likely to take advantage of personalized advertising they receive on their smartphones, according to the e-tailing group’s research. Most (55 percent) are comfortable sharing their preferences with retailers in exchange for convenience and personalized product recommendations, which is consistent with other studies.

Plus, while in a store, 69 percent of shoppers will ask an in-store associate to use a mobile device to locate a product and have it shipped to their home. The same percent actually wants text messages to receive coupons or be alerted to promotions.

A new report from Pitney Bowes says almost a third of U.S. consumers make most of their online purchases on a mobile device.

About the Author: Doug McPherson

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