Promotions Plus Click-and-Collect Bring Shoppers to Stores This Holiday Season

It’s beginning to look a lot like a very merry holiday shopping season for retailers this year. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) recently published its Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey* and the numbers are bright.  Here are a few of the survey results:

  • Holiday spending will increase 4.9 percent over last year for a total of $832.3 billion
  • Adults will spend an average of $683 on gifts and other holiday-related items
  • 90 percent of shoppers plan to buy in physical stores, and that increases to 97 percent when you include people that will make purchases online from retailers that have stores
  • 87 percent of holiday shoppers will go to malls and other shopping centers to shop and join activities
  • Close to 90 percent of in-store shoppers will do research online before making a purchase

So even with the growth of online shopping—largely due to brick-and-mortar retailers broadening their online presence—physical stores are still the leading choice among consumers. And with more shoppers planning to use click-and-collect or BOPIS—Buy Online, Pickup In Store—stores in malls and other shopping centers are bound to be even more important this holiday shopping season.

“Because Thanksgiving is on November 28th—the latest it can be—the Christmas shopping season is shortened,” says Frank Bullock, Executive Vice President/Managing Director of the Retail Division at Henry S. Miller. “Therefore, omnichannel shopping is more imperative in order to maximize sales.  Also, the early, extended hours of brick and mortar stores as well as sales discounts are helping to boost the season’s sales.  All in all, we anticipate a very robust spending season of eight percent over last year, and that’s not just for the Christmas shopping season.”

Shoppers Prefer Physical Stores

The ICSC Survey found that although holiday shoppers intend to use retailers’ omnichannel options, they “prefer retailers with a physical presence.” This preference applies to all generations—Gen Xers, Millennials and Baby Boomers. In addition, shoppers say they are more likely to shop in stores during the holiday season than at other times of the year.


Ordering online and picking up in store gained momentum last year and is set to become more prevalent this season. Last year, 40 percent of shoppers planned to use click-and-collect; this year that number increases to 48 percent.

The practice is more popular among Millennials and Gen Xers, as well as shoppers living in urban areas versus Baby Boomers and people in suburban and rural towns. And once these BOPIS shoppers are in the store, the majority—82 percent—will shop more, either in the same store or at another in the same shopping center. In general, impulse purchases are on the rise. While in stores, 72 percent of shoppers say they make additional purchases that were not planned. Only 56 percent say they impulse buy online during holiday shopping.

Technology and Holiday Shopping

Beyond click-and-collect, shoppers will use technology more than ever this season to do research before they go to a store. Last year, 79 percent planned such research, and this year 87 percent—almost nine out of ten—will check online before buying. Also, 82 percent will use a mobile device in the store to compare prices, get digital discounts, check inventory, take product pictures and view ratings.

Sales, Deals and Discounts

Shoppers buying multiple gifts are especially interested in savings, which may be one reason why discount department stores are the most popular kind of retail outlet.  Two-thirds of holiday shoppers will buy in-store or online from them.

A majority of shoppers—82 percent—say that discounts and low prices will influence their buying decisions. And 41 percent indicate that the promotions they see once they’re in a store will affect the purchases they make. In fact, the search for promotions brings shoppers to physical stores more often. Once there, 68 percent buy based on a discount offered, and 71 percent will buy more than planned if they think they’re getting a good deal.

Malls are Alive and Well

Finally, the ICSC Survey states, “There will be no shortage of visitors at malls and other shopping centers this year… Overall, 86 percent of holiday shoppers—up from 84% in 2018—plan to visit those venues to make purchases and for other activities.”

Most of those surveyed will be holiday shopping, but many also plan to eat out, see a movie, schedule a personal service such as a haircut or manicure or workout. Malls and shopping centers are also the place for family pictures, office parties, and holiday and charitable events.

So all in all, shoppers will rush home with their treasures and retailers will enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!


*The ICSC Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey was conducted online by Engine Insights on behalf of ICSC September 16–18, 2019. The survey represents a demographic sample of 1,003 U.S. respondents.