E-commerce will outpace in-store spending for first time ever this holiday season

E-commerce is set to surpass yet another significant milestone in the world of retail. For the first time ever, holiday shoppers will spend more on e-commerce sites than they will in brick-and-mortar stores, according to a recent study.

The survey, conducted by Deloitte, found that consumers will spend 51 percent of their budget online and 42 percent in-store. Last year, online and in-store purchases were equal at 47 percent each.


If you focus in on generational divides, younger shoppers are much more likely to spend their holiday budget online, meaning e-commerce’s reign will only further in the coming years as more and more consumers embrace the digital shopping experience.

In fact, 61 percent of Gen Z’s budget will go to online retail—58 percent for Millennials. Gen Xers will spend 52 percent, Baby Boomers 48 percent, and Seniors only a meager 33 percent.


More mobile shoppers

In previous years, shoppers were much more likely to use their smartphone to discover deals, compare prices, and seek out recommendations rather than make online purchases. This year, however, well over half of consumers (59%) plan to make a purchase using their smartphone.

In addition to making purchases, shoppers are also planning to utilize their mobile phones to browse online (67%), check/compare prices (65%), track orders (63%), and get store locations (60%).

The most cited reasons for shopping online rather than in store were the ease of searching, trusted/high-quality products, a variety of products/styles, and availability of unique products/styles.

Less physical gifts

Another shift in this year’s holiday shopping, according to the Deloitte study, is consumers moving away from buying physical gifts and devoting more of their holiday budget to nontraditional gifts and celebrations.

Over a quarter of respondents (27%) said they prefer to buy gifts that are experiences and another quarter (24%) said they would rather host or attend holiday events with friends and family than a traditional gift exchange.

The holiday season, the average consumer will spend $480 on experiences, $430 on physical gifts, and $314 on non-gifts.

Well-off consumers

Relative to previous years, consumers are increasingly well-off with 81 percent of those surveyed saying that their household’s financial situation is the same or better than the year before. Five years ago, this number was just 63 percent.

Since many consumers are reporting an increasingly healthier financial situation, it is to be expected that many shoppers will spend more money. Deloitte predicts that the average shopper will spend $1,226 on holiday shopping this year.

Also, respondents indicated that their better financial prospects mean they are willing to buy more high-end products. More consumers than ever are planning to buy jewelry, cosmetics, fragrances, and other health and beauty items.

While many consumers are ready to splurge this holiday season, 4 in 10 (44%) still say that they will wait for holiday sales to buy big-ticket items.

Deloitte’s findings were based on a survey of 5,000 consumers and their expected holiday season shopping habits.

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