Nielsen: Digital shopping to drive holiday sales in 2016


As shoppers use more devices to shop their favorite brands, it is not surprising that digital shopping will drive retail holiday sales.


This message was delivered in Nielsen's 2016 holiday trend report, which tapped 1,159 adults aged 18 years and older. As of Nov. 11, online shopping was outpacing in-store visits, with 58% of shoppers already purchasing their holiday gifts online compared to 40% that went to big-box retail stores, and 25% who visited department stores.


As expected, millennials are leading the charge. While 25% plan to increase their online expenditures this holiday season, 19% of all U.S. shoppers plan to spend more online, up from 17% in 2015. Millennials also plan to spend 12% more this year, followed by Generation X at 8%, boomers 6% and the Greatest Generation planning on 4% increase in spending, the report said.


Another Nielsen study, which is based on online responses from 2,037 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older between Nov. 2 and 4, 2016, revealed additional holiday shopping trends. 


With about a week to go, 54% of U.S. consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, up from 50% in 2015. This could be driven by digitally-savvy consumers that are following extended campaigns, and looking for deals on a daily basis. Similarly, more consumers plan to shop on Cyber Monday (63% vs. 60% in 2015). The gains are expected to come from mobile however, as 50% of consumers plan to use their phones to shop on Cyber Monday, up from 39% in 2015, the study said.


Despite the surge in online sales, the store experience is by no means dead. In fact, department and dollar stores are set to see the biggest rise in shoppers compared to last year, with 59% of consumers planning to shop in department stores, and 21% in dollar stores, increases of 2% and 3% respectively, the report said.


"With a growing appetite for all things digital, online platforms will have a more significant role in helping consumers both research and purchase gifts during this holiday season," says Jordan Rost, VP of consumer insights, Nielsen. "Retailers take note, virtual environments present opportunities and unlimited growth potential for merchants - especially with the millennial, digital consumer."

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