by Stephen Garner

holiday shopping1

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has released its Holiday Consumer Purchasing Trends study, providing insight into shopping behavior during the 2015 holiday season. Physical stores drove sales with 91 percent of consumers choosing brick and mortar retailers this season, with 198 million American adults making holiday purchases in-store this holiday season.

The study shows that seeing, touching and trying on merchandise was cited as the number one reason to shop in store (32%), followed by the ability to browse (26%), and the ability to get the item right away (24%). Shoppers also embrace the ease of returning and exchanging products in store, with 20 percent of shoppers electing to shop in-store because of this advantage.

The ICSC also reports that 60 percent of holiday shoppers used their mobile device while shopping in-store to do such things as compare prices, check availability and view reviews/ratings. Meanwhile, 56 percent of holiday shoppers researched products before they even entered the store, noting they arrived better informed and ready to purchase. Additionally, nearly one-third of holiday shoppers used the click and collect method –with 69 percent of these shoppers purchasing additional items in the store of collection and 36 percent making another purchase in an adjacent store.

“Looking back at the holiday season, the major trend that emerged is the prevalence of the omni-channel consumer and the resulting convergence among brick and mortar and digital retail,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “The story of bricks vs. clicks is an old one. The story is now one of a shopper getting the best of both worlds, using online research and capabilities to inform physical purchases. The American consumer has sent a clear message that the physical store remains at the epicenter of the shopping experience.”