Sensormatic Survey Shows In-Store Shopping is Making a Comeback

Sensormatic Solutions’ second annual North American Holiday Consumer Sentiment Survey found that more shoppers are planning to shop in-store than in the 2020 holiday season, even as the level of concern around in-store shopping remains nearly the same.

The survey showed 47 percent of consumers still plan to shop in-store this holiday season, an 8 percent increase from 2020. The latest results show that concerns have risen since the recent 2021 back-to-school season.

“We expect more contactless checkouts and unified commerce services like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup this holiday season because health and safety is paramount,” said Kim Melvin, global leader of marketing, Sensormatic Solutions. “This holiday season it’s more important than ever for retailers to adopt intelligent technology that allows them to leverage data from across the enterprise to meet consumers’ expectation of personalized, comfortable, seamless retail experiences both in-store and online.”

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Holiday Doorbusters, Unified Commerce and Enclosed Malls Grow in Popularity

Although 63 percent of U.S. consumers are concerned or very concerned about shopping in-store, this isn’t stopping them from taking advantage of annual deal days, leveraging unified commerce services or shopping at enclosed malls:

  • 50 percent of U.S. consumers indicate they still plan to shop in-store on Black Friday weekend this year, compared to 36 percent who said they shopped in-store last year.
  • 42 percent say they’ll use BOPIS for their holiday shopping, a 9 percent increase from 2020, and 44 percent say they’ll use curbside pickup, a 12 percent increase from 2020.
  • 55 percent plan to shop at enclosed malls in 2021, compared to 29 percent in 2020.

Nearly half (45 percent) of U.S. consumers said store occupancy limits preventing overcrowding would make them feel more confident shopping in-store this holiday season. Forty-two percent of consumers surveyed said extended opening hours to prevent overcrowding would help them feel more confident, and 38 percent said temperature checks taken on entry to the store would also add a level of comfort for in-store shopping.

U.S. Holiday Shopping Will Start Earlier

Half of U.S. consumers (50 percent) indicate they will start their holiday shopping before November, compared to 43 percnet in winter 2020. Over three quarters (81 percent) indicate they will start shopping before December, compared to 74 percent in 2020. This shift aligns with Sensormatic Solutions’ findings in its annual list of the top busiest shopper traffic days for the 2021 holiday season.

When consumers were asked what factors would influence their decision to start their holiday shopping:

  • 49 percent said timing of promotions and holidays
  • 46 percent said concern over shipping delays
  • 43 percent said finances/budget

“As consumers shift their shopping earlier into the season, the typical holiday traffic peaks will flatten, with more days sharing importance throughout the season,” said Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting, Sensormatic Solutions. “We also expect to see the return of weekday shopping, a trend that started last year as more consumers made the most of flexible remote work schedules to shop during days and times that were perceived to be less busy or crowded in-store. Retailers can better prepare by deploying technology to understand expected shopper patterns and implement in-store strategies to service their customers.”

Key Differences for U.S. and Canadian Consumers

Sensormatic Solutions also surveyed consumers in Canada to understand differences in shopping behavior compared to U.S. consumers. Key differences include:

  • Canadian consumers are more likely to delay their holiday shopping, with only 36 percent planning to start their shopping before November.
  • Canadian consumers are less likely to use unified commerce services, with only 28 percent planning to use BOPIS or curbside pick-up for their holiday shopping.
  • Only 14 percent of Canadian consumers said they were “very concerned” about shopping in-store this holiday season, compared to 31 percent of U.S. consumers.

Sensormatic Solutions collected responses from 1,000 U.S.-based consumers and 1,000 Canada-based consumers 18 years and older via a third-party provider to determine findings of its 2021 North America Holiday Consumer Sentiment Survey. The survey was conducted at the height of the COVID-19 delta variant surge between August 18 – August 23, 2021.