Online close to edging out physical stores for holiday buying

The holiday shopping season is already upon us and brick-and-mortar stores should be nervous. While 81% of consumers said they prefer shopping in-store, that’s only 9% more than said they prefer online shopping, according to a new survey.

Despite this, more shoppers said they prefer to make holiday purchases from small, local businesses (58%) than online-only ones (55%), according to the survey by Bazaarvoice.

Why we care. Customer preferences are everything in marketing but sometimes they are contradictory. Should brands favor local stores over online? Maybe? And then there’s the growing trend of hybrid physical/digital (“phygital”) buyer journeys.

It looks to be a big year for sweaters (or other clothes) as 70% said they’ll be giving apparel, games and toys came in second with 51%, closely followed by electronics (47%), food and beverages (40%), then a near tie between health and beauty (37%) and jewelry (36%).

Dig deeper: MarTech’s experts to follow: The lists so far

You should already know this. If you haven’t got a campaign in place by now you’re way behind the competition and the consumers. Some 11% said they started their holiday shopping in July, 14% in August and 19% are starting this month.

It’s social media for the deals. Nearly half (49%) of shoppers said they follow brands on social media to learn about Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) deals. And a quarter said they preferred to shop on social over that period.

Electronic word-of-mouth. No matter where they shop, consumers want to hear from other consumers: Three-quarters said reviews impact their purchasing decisions over BFCM, while over 59% say the same about their purchasing decisions on social media.  

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