The internet has undoubtedly changed the way people shop, making it easier to cross items off loved ones' holiday wish lists. However, consumers will still be out in brick-and-mortar stores this season in droves, re-establishing why retailers might consider implementing a mobile point of sales system to expedite the purchase process and keep long lines moving.
Nearly 9 in 10 consumers say they'll be scouring retail store aisles in search of the perfect holiday gifts, according to a recent poll conducted by Survey Monkey. They're expected to spend quite a bit as well, with just 12 percent intending to stay under $100.
Shoppers to spend over $900 on presents
In recent years, due to the financial crisis, many families have opted to rein in their spending to avoid going over budget. However, with unemployment at its lowest point in nearly 20 years - down to 4.1 percent, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Labor - consumers are apparently in a spending mood. On average, shoppers will shell out more than $900 each on gift purchases during the holidays, a separate poll from Gallup found. That's the highest amount in a decade.
Although omnichannel has made buying from virtually anywhere easier and more widely available, there are still aspects to in-store shopping that can't be replicated. These are some of the reasons why the majority of Americans will be in retail setting this season. For instance, the Survey Monkey poll found 60 percent of customers prefer to visit stores in person so they can physically interact with the products they're interested in buying, despite long lines being something of a turn off. Retailers can reduce holiday stress and improve the customer experience by providing payment services to shoppers wherever they are in store.
Other polls have produced similar findings that further establish why in-store shopping has more advantages than mobile shopping for many buyers. Sixty percent of clothing shoppers say they like to visit brick-and-mortar retail settings more than through the internet (17 percent), so they can feel the quality of the clothing material.
Sales could surpass $678 billion
Meanwhile, as holiday revelers hold out hope for a white Christmas while they're in malls, department stores and small businesses, retailers expect it to be a season full of green, as sales are primed to surge. Not including spending on cars, restaurants and gasoline, retailers are forecasting a sales total north of $678 billion combined in November and December alone, according to the National Retail Federation. This would represent an increase of roughly 4 percent.
Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, noted this is a goal that's well within reach, given the strength of the economy and robust consumer sentiment.
"Our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and overall strength of the industry," Shay explained. "Although this year hasn't been perfect, especially with the recent devastating hurricanes, we believe that a longer shopping season and strong consumer confidence will deliver retailers a strong holiday season."
Employers created over a quarter million jobs in October
A triumvirate of major hurricanes struck portions of the U.S. in late August and throughout September, stymieing productivity for consumers and business owners alike, retailers included. As a result, the economy actually lost jobs in September, the first time that had happened in several years. But companies bounced back nicely in October, adding more than 250,000 job openings to payrolls, the Labor Department reported. Buyer sentiment also gained ground during the month, according to the Conference Board.
In addition to consumers being more upbeat, retailers point to the fact there are more shopping days in 2017 as another factor that may yield more sales receipts. Buyers have 32 days to take to stores after Thanksgiving, one more than in 2016, giving buyers 24 hours worth of opportunities to avoid long lines, which retailers can reduce with line busting mPOS systems.
"Consumers continue to do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy, and all the fundamentals are aligned for them to continue doing so during the holidays," said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. "The combination of job creation, improved wages, tame inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend."
Inventory shortages are always a potential reality for retailers, but they're hoping to have plenty of merchandise available, keeping track of supply through their POS systems. Retailers set several records over the summer, with imports reaching all-time highs in preparation for the holiday shopping blitz, according to a separate report from the NRF.
Retailers can increase the likelihood of having a truly merry holiday sales season by updating their POS systems to expedite the purchase process when buyers are pressed for time. Datacap offers a variety of solutions that cater to buyers' purchase preferences, whether in-store or via mobile device.