While the majority of U.S. consumers (55%) prefer to shop in a physical store, there is a sizable and growing minority that prefers to shop online, via desktop and increasingly via mobile devices, according to the National Retail Federation.
In 2015, just over a quarter of online holiday purchases were made on a smartphone or tablet. By 2016 this had grown to 31%, and the NRF anticipates that this will reach 33% this year.
In monetary terms, a sizable $3.8 billion dollars was forecast to be spent on Cyber Monday, more than the $3.5 billion forecast for Black Friday. This is due to online purchases often being for higher ticket and bulkier items such as electronics rather than smaller, lighter "stocking stuffers" that are more frequently bought in person.
Despite a strong affinity for in-store shopping, the appeal of online holiday shopping is increasing.
According to Vantiv, two-thirds of digital holiday shoppers go online because of the convenience. However the advantage of physical stores having no delivery costs is being negated and is therefore a major factor in persuading shoppers to go online — 53% shop online due to free delivery options. Further, the ability to compare prices across multiple retailers allows consumers to find the best prices without the legwork — nearly half (48%) of online shoppers do so because of lower pricing availability.
At a macro level, holiday spend both online and offline is increasing, but there are distinct differences regionally in the available budget for the holidays.
Wallethub’s recent publication of 570 U.S. cities' anticipated spend over the season provides a marked breakdown of the nation’s wealth. At the top end of the scale, households in Naperville, Ill., expect to spend $2,380 this holiday. Of major cities, San Francisco residents expect to spend $1,580 this holiday season, more than double that of New York and Chicago. At a sobering bottom end of the scale, inhabitants of Flint, Mich., expect that they will spend an average of just $69 on the upcoming holiday season.