New York – Gains in the economy and digital usage will help drive a 4 to 4.5 percent increase in retail sales this holiday season, a Deloitte study shows.
The retail and distribution consultancy said total sell-through, excluding cars and fuel, may climb as high as $986 billion from November through January, citing steady gas prices and growth in wages, home values, the stock market, and jobs.
Holiday sales rose a more modest 2.8 percent last year.
The greatest sales gains will come through the direct channel, where online and mail order retailers can expect holiday increases of 13.5 to 14 percent, the firm said.
But the digital space will also play a larger role in physical retail, as 84 percent of shoppers already use digital tools before and during their trips to stores, and those that do are 40 percent more likely to buy, the company said.
All told, digital interactions through computers, tablets and smartphones will influence fully 50 percent, or $345 billion, of brick-and-mortar sales this holiday season.
The key takeaway, said Deloitte vice chairman Alison Paul, is that “while online sales continue to climb, digital customer interactions through both virtual and physical store channels present greater sales opportunities than online or mobile commerce alone.”
Paul's advice to retailers is to “focus on the right functionality, rather than more functionality, when creating digital experiences this holiday season. Rather than offer their full e-commerce site on a mobile device, for example, retailers may be more effective by helping consumers compare prices, scan through local assortments, and navigate the store.
She added, “Retailers that better understand how consumers make purchasing decisions, then deliver tools that support that process in a way that is consistent and complementary across online, mobile and store channels — may have the advantage this holiday season.”