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October 18, 2021
ICSC: Holiday Shoppers To Start Earlier, Spend More
Posted In: Retail Articles


As the holidays approach, ICSC research suggests an 8.9% increase in November/December sales as consumers make use of multiple shopping channels.

According to the Annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey from ICSC, formerly the International Council of Shopping Centers, holiday sales should reach $923 billion. The results of the annual holiday study demonstrated that the average holiday purchaser is planning to spend an average of $637 on gifts and other holiday-related items.

The survey found that 90% of adults, or 231 million people, plan to make holiday-related purchases this year, the organization noted, and 78% of shoppers expect to spend the same or more this holiday season. The ICSC study, conducted in late September, indicated that consumers have been planning to spend time and money dining out this year with food and beverage establishments seeing a 35.4% year-over-year growth. However, United States Census Bureau retail sales figures for September provided some evidence that the COVID-19 Delta variant drove consumer spending away from activities such as restaurant dining in the month, so spending shifts may vary depending on coronavirus transmission rates.

The shopping season will be longer this year, ICSC maintained, with 75% of shoppers expecting to start earlier than they normally would. Top reasons for starting shopping earlier this year, ICSC pointed out, included ensuring products are available, cited by 45% or respondents, to take advantage of early deals, cited by 42%, and to ensure products are delivered on time, also cited by 42%.

Holiday shoppers plan to take full advantage of retailers’ omnichannel options this year, which is likely to boost e-commerce sales by 13% versus the 2020 season, ICSC asserted. Still, 85% of shoppers plan to spend money in physical stores. Of shoppers who intend to use click-and-collect, 72% said they are likely to make additional purchases while picking up their online order.

Deals and promotions remain critical to holiday purchasing, as 80% of survey respondents said that deals play a role in their holiday purchases, ICSC related. Nearly half of consumers said the holiday season will encourage them to make more trips to physical stores, and 38% plan to shop around specific promotional events.

Reasons for in-store shopping, survey respondents said, include the ability to see, touch and try on merchandise, cited by 37%,  the ability to get the item immediately, cited by 34%, and the ability to browse for new gift ideas, cited by 30%. More than three-quarters of consumers will visit malls and shopping centers to shop, dine and use personal services this holiday season, ICSC added.

“Strong retail spending has driven a significant economic recovery this year despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and consumers continue to return to pre-pandemic behaviors in the face of uncertainty,” Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC, said in announcing the study results. “Consumers have remained resilient throughout 2021, which I am confident will continue during and after the holiday shopping season.”  

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