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2016 holiday survey

An annual study of the peak shopping season

Holiday shoppers plan to spend as much online as they do in the stores, according to Deloitte’s 31st annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends. Explore findings from the 2016 study.

Online shopping is poised to make holiday history

Believe it or not, the holiday shopping season is upon us. To get a pulse check on spending this year, our holiday survey polled over 5,000 consumers across the US with questions about their intentions for holiday shopping this year and found some surprising insights.

According to this year’s holiday survey, consumers are more likely to shop online than they are to visit popular brick and mortar locations such as discount/value stores and traditional department stores. While the Internet has been a top shopping destination for years, this season it runs away as the venue of choice. Whether they plan to skip the crowds at their local stores on Black Friday still needs to be seen, but our research reveals that half of consumers intend to shop for holiday gifts online this holiday season.

Online shoppers are not just browsing either. In fact, consumers polled in our survey plan to spend just as much online as they do in physical stores (47 percent), another milestone in our holiday survey history. Just two years ago, store spending was 12 percentage points ahead of online purchasing.

Online holiday shopping is likely to take some share from popular store formats both big and small. Fewer people plan to visit standalone “big box” retail stores. This number dropped from 63 percent to 59 percent this year. The number of consumers who plan to visit traditional malls this year fell slightly from 53 percent to 50 percent. Shoppers who plan to visit independent stores that are not in a mall dropped four percentage points to 38 percent.

View the press release.

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2016 holiday survey

This survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company between September 6-20, 2016. It polled a national sample of 5,038 consumers and has a margin of error for the entire sample of plus or minus one to two percentage points.

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While feeling upbeat about the economy and cash flow, consumers will spend less on non-gift holiday spending

Most households remain positive about the US economy’s prospects and continue to report improving finances. In fact, the majority (88 percent) expect the economy to improve or remain the same in 2017. Three-quarters (75 percent) indicate their household financial situation is the same or better than the prior year, up from 58 percent five years ago.

Holiday shoppers plan to purchase an average of 14 gifts this year, on par with 2015, and will spend an average of $426 on gifts and gift cards.

What is surprising this year is that after four years of rising non-gift spending intentions, consumers are starting to rein in the amount they plan to put toward these categories. Holiday travel and dining out, entertaining, purchases of non-gift clothing, home/holiday furnishings, decorations, and other miscellaneous holiday purchases total $572 in this year’s survey.

Overall, shoppers plan to spend an average of $998 on the holidays this year. Despite the ubiquity of the current presidential race, most shoppers (73 percent) do not think the election will impact their holiday spending. 

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Explore the 2016 Deloitte holiday survey on Deloitte University Press. 

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Online and in-store channels complete each other

In our survey this year, two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents expect they’ll be “webrooming,” meaning they will look at items online before making a purchase in a store. Along that same line, half (50 percent) of shoppers will take part in “showrooming” by going to a store to look for an item, then searching online for the best price and making their purchase there instead of in store.

As we mentioned, while half of consumers will do their holiday shopping online this year, more than four in 10 (43 percent) holiday shoppers expect they will use retailers’ “buy online, pick up in store” feature. This year’s survey also showed an increase in the number of shoppers who plan to research online before making a purchase in store (86 percent) and the number who will use smartphones while shopping (78 percent). Smartphones are most often used for informational purposes like getting store locations (61 percent), checking prices (57 percent) and browsing online (56 percent).

While research still trumps purchases on smartphones, mobile transactions are gaining ground. This holiday season, 43 percent of smartphone owners expect to make a mobile purchase, up from 35 percent in 2014.

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Learn more from the 2016 Deloitte holiday survey infographic and the podcast on Deloitte University Press.

Find a mid-season update in our 2016 pre-Thanksgiving pulse survey.
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