In-store gift shopping outstrips online

Younger consumers aged between 15 and 24, as well as older consumers aged 65 and over, plan to do the majority of their gift buying in shopping centres.

This is according to an international study by Bazaarvoice, conducted among 2,500 respondents in the US, UK, France and Germany.

When paired with shopping data from across the Bazaarvoice network of 6,000 retailer websites, the study identified Europe as the leader in mobile shopping, with 67 per cent of traffic coming from this channel during the holiday season, compared to 59 per cent in the US.

The contrasting data from the consumer survey suggests that only five per cent of respondents plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping via mobile. This discrepancy indicates that consumers may not realise how much they actually use their phones to shop during the holidays, Bazaarvoice stated.

The company’s EMEA marketing vice president Sophie Light-Wilkinson said: “More and more we’re seeing consumers rely on mobile to verify products they’re considering in-store.”

In the UK, almost a third (32 per cent) of consumers claimed they will complete ‘the majority of purchases’ in physical shopping centres. In particular, they are more likely than the global average (26 per cent) to pick traditional mass merchants such as John Lewis and Debenhams (30 per cent).

Assessing the appetite for peaks such as Black Friday, the study showed that four in five UK consumers shop for gifts on sales days, making the local market considerably more focused on this style of shopping than the US (63 per cent).

Moreover, 29 per cent of UK consumers kick-off their holiday shopping on Amazon’s Prime Day (July 15 this year), making Brits the earliest start to holiday shopping. By comparison, just 19 per cent of US consumers have started by this point.

However, UK consumers, alongside their global counterparts, are just as likely to report long checkout lines (68 per cent) and overcrowded stores (59 per cent) as reasons for not shopping in store. In particular, UK respondents are more likely to identify pushy sales people as a pain point around the in-store experience (39 per cent) compared to the global average (32 per cent).

When asked how brands could improve the holiday shopping experience, UK respondents picked improved convenience (61 per cent), such as self-checkout and the option to buy online and pick-up in-store. Faster, more efficient shipping solutions were also chosen by 56 per cent of respondents.

The research also identified customer reviews, photos and personalised recommendations as things that would improve the holiday shopping experience for nearly a third of UK consumers (31 per cent).

“At a time where authenticity is being called into question across the entire e-commerce space, it’s a crucial area for brands to develop real differentiation,” Light-Wilkinson concluded.

“Whether online or in-store, consumers have come to expect real customer content at every step of the shopping journey – in our annual client survey more than half of respondents said consumer reviews drive in-store sales and increase brand loyalty.”

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