What to Expect This Holiday Shopping Season

A national survey by JLL previews 2019 holiday trends and the implications for brick and mortar retail.
Greg Maloney, President & CEO, JLL Retail. Image courtesy of JLL

Brick and mortar retailers might want to make sure they have plenty of merchandise in stock this holiday season as JLL’s new 2019 Retail Holiday Survey finds more than half of the shoppers surveyed said they plan to buy in store compared to 42.3 percent who said they will buy from an internet-only retailer.

The BOPIS option—buy online, pick up in store—is also growing among shoppers. Nearly a quarter (23.5 percent) of 1,000 survey respondents said they planned to order online and pick up in store. That option is even higher for Gen Z shoppers, with 29.9 percent saying they expected to BOPIS. Providing BOPIS services makes sense for retailers because other studies have shown about 85 percent of shoppers who enter a store to pick up a previously ordered purchase end up buying more products in store.

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Greg Maloney, president & CEO of JLL Retail, noted in a prepared statement they continue to see merging of retail channels, with 68.7 percent of respondents saying they will shop at a retailer with a physical presence, including in-store, online or picking up orders in store. Of that group, 25.3 percent said they would make a purchase from a physical retailer’s website.

The top five retailers, where most respondents said they planned to do holiday shopping, were Amazon (38.1 percent), Walmart (36.2 percent), Target (29.6 percent), Kohl’s (10.1 percent) and Macy’s (8 percent). Other retailers making shoppers’ lists were: Best Buy (5.4 percent), JC Penney (4 percent), Costco (3.6 percent), Belk (2.2 percent) and Nordstrom (2.1 percent). The top three remained the same for all types of shoppers, but there were differences in how other stores ranked depending on shoppers’ budgets. Those with budgets higher than $500 were more likely to plan to also do holiday shopping at Macys, Best Buy and Nordstrom as well, while those with smaller budgets included Kohl’s among their shopping destinations.

Spending to Increase

Maloney and Ryan Severino, JLL’s chief economist, said they are predicting holiday sales to increase by 4.5 percent to 5 percent, over 2018, a similar figure to expectations in the 2018 Retail Holiday Survey.

Ryan Severino, Chief Economist, JLL. Image courtesy of JLL

“Overall, the consumer picture is shaping up nicely to drive a solid holiday shopping season. Consumer sentiment has remained relatively steady, despite continued instability surrounding the global trade picture. While economic modeling suggests that sales could reach the high end of our forecast if everything falls perfectly, the current reality of both jobs and wage growth slowing leads me to believe we are more likely to land in the 4.5 percent range for total holiday sales,” Severino wrote in the report.

The survey found most shoppers’ gift budgets will remain similar to last year’s spending, with 43.3 percent expecting to spend more than $500 on gifts compared to 44.4 percent last year. Just over a quarter (25.6 percent) plan to send between $250 and $500. Seniors (shoppers over 65 years old) plan to spend more than $1,000 and about 46.6 percent of Gen Xers said they are budgeting more than $500. Nearly three-quarters of Gen Zers surveyed (72.4 percent) said they expected to spend less than $500.

Mobile phone use is still playing a big role in consumers’ holiday shopping plans, but the number of shoppers who will use their phones to shop online dropped to 46.8 percent this year, from 50.3 percent last year. But they indicated they will use their phones for other retail activities including checking store inventory, reading product reviews and making in-store payments. While men expect to use their phones more to order online, check for deals or get gift ideas, more women (14.2 percent) plan to use their phones to pay in store.

JLL also found that early bird shopping is now the new normal, with about one-third of consumers planning to start holiday shopping before Thanksgiving this year. While some have already finished holiday shopping, about 17 percent will begin during Thanksgiving weekend, down from 19.6 percent in 2018.