ICSC forecasts 3.3 percent growth for holiday season

Photo: Woman shopping online; copyright: panthermedia.net/Viacheslav Iakobchuk

International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) released its annual holiday forecast, predicting a 3.3 percent year-over-year growth (compared to 2.2 percent increase in 2015) in retail sales at physical stores this holiday season. According to ICSC’s Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey, holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of $683.90 this year.

In-store purchases continue to dominate, with 91 percent of holiday shoppers planning to spend at physical stores. This total increases to 96 percent when taking into account holiday shoppers who will spend online with retailers that have a physical presence.

Physical and Digital Retail Converge, Luring Consumers to Spend

Holiday shoppers expect an omnichannel experience this season. Digital resources will benefit consumers and retailers as 85 percent of holiday shoppers indicated they will research online before making holiday purchases in-store. Thirty-nine percent of holiday shoppers plan to utilize click and collect, an uptick from 2015 (32 percent). Further, 83 percent of these shoppers will make additional purchases in-store when picking up their online order.

“We continue to see positive consumer spending intentions ahead of the holiday season, with an emphasis on shopping in physical stores,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers. “Throughout 2016, consumers have demonstrated a tendency to shop across both digital and physical retail. Even shoppers who purchase online favor retailers with a physical presence and an increasing number of consumers are buying online and collecting in stores. Consumer intentions show that this digital/physical convergence will be critical for the health of the industry as we close out the year.” 

Americans Crave the Holiday Experience

Experience is key this holiday season, as 80 percent of consumers surveyed indicated they will participate in activities other than shopping when visiting a shopping center. Fifty-three percent of those who will visit a shopping center will dine at restaurants and food establishments, while thirty-six percent will see a movie. Santa continues to be a draw as half (50 percent) of adults visiting a center with children under the age of 13 plan to have their child’s picture taken with Santa this holiday season.

Shoppers intend to take advantage of the diverse options for shopping, spending across channels. Most prominently, consumers are reliant upon omnichannel retailers versus pure play online or solely physical retailers.

  • 96% will spend in store or online through a retailer with a physical presence
  • 59% will spend at Amazon
  • 44% will spend online from retailers with a physical presence and ship purchase home
  • 39% will spend online from retailers with a physical presence and pick up items in-store
  • 21% will spend from all other pure online retailers
  • 23% will spend from catalogs, phone orders

Holiday Shoppers Head to Stores for Immediate Satisfaction

With intentions to shop at physical stores high, consumers cite the following reasons for why they favor in-store holiday spending: 

  • The ability to see, touch or try on merchandise (52%)
  • The ability to get the item immediately (50%)
  • Not wanting to pay for shipping (42%)
  • Ease of returning/exchanging the item (35%)
  • Convenience of one-stop shopping (31%)

Gift Cards, Apparel to Be Purchased by More than Half of Shoppers

The top five categories in which Americans are planning to spend this holiday season are:

  • Gift cards/certificates (64%)
  • Apparel and footwear (51%)
  • Toys and games (not including apps or video games) (46%)
  • Men/women’s accessories, cosmetics, fragrances (39%)
  • Electronics (any type) (38%)

ICSC Holiday Forecast

ICSC forecasts an increase across all retail categories this holiday season. Notable growth categories include:

  • Health and personal care stores (8.1%)
  • Miscellaneous store retailers (3.6%)
  • Building material, garden equipment and supply stores (1.8%)
  • Electronics and appliance stores (1.4%)
Source: ICSC