Looks like it’s shaping up to be bricks over clicks for the 2019 holiday shopping season, as the Annual Holiday Shopping Survey from Accenture is reporting that the in-person experience will be back in fashion with Q4 shoppers this year.

While survey results show online shopping still slightly outpacing in-store buying, it seems consumers will be craving face-to-face conversations with sales associates, and the in-store shopping experience is on the top of the list for many consumers as they do their holiday shopping this year. 

Jill Standish, Accenture’s senior managing director and head of retail, mentioned the phrase “human holiday” five times over the course of a phone briefing, and says consumers will prefer talking to human sales associates instead of letting algorithms help them make their decisions.

Actually there’s more than a few reasons to get excited about potential Q4 2019 sales.  According to recent reports from both Deloitte and the National Retail Federation, U.S. retail sales are projected to grow between 3.8% and 5% overall in November and December compared with the same period in 2018.  Even amid tough news about rising oil prices and trade tariffs, low unemployment and positive consumer sentiment are expected to help holiday sales exceed $1.1 trillion between this November and January. At the same time, e-commerce sales are projected to grow between 14% to 18%, or $144 billion – $149 billion over the same period, up from 11.2% growth that was experienced in  2018.

These new reports are great for brick and mortar retailers, who might have several reasons to embrace the holiday cheer.  For one, it looks like the days of consumers browsing in stores but buying online are on the decline.  One possible reason for this change?   The rising risk of package theft or “porch piracy” experiences.  78% of the Accenture survey respondents said they are taking preventive measures to avoid falling victim to package theft.  Delivery tracking and notification apps are becoming more popular, with 29% of survey respondents saying they schedule deliveries for times when someone is home to receive the package.  And just over one-fifth of respondents plan to avoid the hassles of home delivery altogether, and purchase all of their goods in-store.

It appears the 2019 might be a banner year for antique and estate jewelry sales as well.  The market for vintage and rental clothes is on the rise, which could reflect more consumer awareness about the environmental impact of fast fashion and waste.  For 2019, vintage and antique pieces seem to be “in vogue,” with 48% of respondents in the Accenture Annual Holiday Shopping Survey saying they would consider giving second-hand clothing as gifts, and even more—56%—said they would welcome gifts of this kind for themselves.”

Online powerhouse RetailMeNot also recently announced the release of its annual holiday insights guide, which provides a comprehensive look at consumer behavior and retailer promotional strategies as we head into the holiday season. One key insight?  The 2019 holiday season has the fewest number of days possible between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is six days shorter than 2018.  68% of shoppers say this shortened time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas will impact their holiday shopping for 2019. Specifically, the mere three weeks between the holidays will lead to earlier deal-seeking (34%) and product research (29%), as well as more stress about completing shopping on time (14%).

No matter what consumers are shopping for, one thing is clear: They don’t want to pay full price. 70% of shoppers say price is the biggest determining factor in the gifts they purchase during the holiday season. Today’s shoppers are savings-savvy, loyal and demanding, and retailers must pay attention to promotional strategies to effectively capture sales.

Interested in learning more about how you can prepare your business for the Q4 holidays, have questions about this article, or want to suggest a topic for me to cover in future blogs? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at Ann@JewelersSuite.com today!

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