Online Gift-Buying Set to Surpass In-Store Sales for the First Time, Survey Finds

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Consumers’ Research sees trend of ‘Cyber Monday’ and ‘Black Friday’ trending toward November-to- Christmas seasons rather than single-day events

Washington, D.C. — November X, 2019 – A new survey from the nation’s oldest consumer organization finds that this year more American consumers plan to do their holiday shopping online rather than in stores. According to the Consumers’ Research 2019 holiday shopping survey, 31% said they will do most or all of their shopping online, while 25% of respondents indicated that they intend to do most or all of their shopping in a store

The preference for online shopping jumped four percentage points after holding steady at 27% in 2017 and 2018. Conversely, the number favoring in-store shopping during the holiday season dropped four points after holding steady at 29% the previous two years.

“The fact that online gift-buying has overtaken in-store purchases this holiday season is a milestone in the online marketplace and speaks to consumer preferences in terms of selection and convenience,” said Beau Brunson, director of policy and regulatory affairs at Consumers’ Research.

The trend toward online shopping is further borne out by the survey’s finding that during the 2019 holiday season, 46% plan to shop on Cyber Monday, up from 41% two years ago.

“Stores are seeing the online trend and are having to offer better deals to capture the consumer audience,” said Brunson. “That could explain why we’re seeing more retailers start their Black Friday sales well in advance of Thanksgiving.”

While just 38% of consumers surveyed indicated that they will be participating in Black Friday shopping, that’s a point higher than two years ago, indicating that the strategy may be working. Some online merchants are likewise holding holiday sales in advance of the traditional Cyber Monday, which in 2019 falls on December 2. “What we’re seeing is Black Friday and Cyber Monday becoming six-week holiday shopping seasons rather than single-day events,” he added.

The Consumers’ Research survey also asked respondents to rate the each of the following activities during the holidays according to their highest priorities, using a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest rating. Consumers identified “quality time with loved ones” as the most desirable gift, with 63% putting it at the top of their wish list. “Sticking to your budget” was a distant second place (28%), followed by “enhancing your spiritual life (25%), great meals (22%), gift giving (13%), charitable giving (9%) and gift receiving (3%).

“The 2019 Holiday Survey found that spending quality time with loved ones, sharing great meals, and spiritual reflection are all things that help make the Holiday Season the merriest it can possibly be. This online “Christmas Shopping Season” provides consumers a way to check all those boxes all while staying within a budget,” said Brunson.

Consumers’ Research holiday survey results are also available online for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

About Consumers’ Research:

Consumers’ Research, founded in 1929, is the nation’s oldest consumer organization that seeks to increase the knowledge and understanding of issues, policies, products, and services of concern to consumers. For more information visit: http://consumersresearch.

About the Survey:

The survey was conducted from November 7-10, 2019 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel. AmeriSpeak® is NORC’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population, which sets it apart from traditional “opt-in” or “convenience” panels. Interviews of approximately 1,000 U.S. adults (18+) was conducted both online and by telephone. The margin of error on weighted data is +/- 3 percentage points for the full sample.

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