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The New Customer Journey

Oct 24, 2019
3 min read
By: Shanae Vander Togt

Shopper behaviours have changed but will we notice the impact this holiday season? 

It may seem too early to start thinking about it, but the holiday season is upon us and retailers and REITs are in full swing preparing for consumers and the next wave of purchasing behaviour.

We have previously discussed the evolution of the shopping mall and how it has changed over the years, both in purpose and in physical space. This is largely in part due to the changing consumer behaviour trends in conjunction with the rise of digital.

Consulting firm McKinsey has gone so far as to redefine the traditional shopper journey to fit the online-trending version we see today, yet the latest data from the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) shows that 90% of US adults plan to shop in-store for gifts this holiday season.

Shoppers are also starting their holiday shopping earlier in the year in order to take advantage of more deals, rather than waiting until November and December to finish all shopping.

While the underlying factor is a much larger market slice than it has been in years past, it appears as though brick and mortar purchases are clawing their way back.

The ICSC study also found that 97% of shoppers plan to shop with a retailer that has a physical presence, and a further 82% of shoppers who pick up an online purchase in-store are likely to make an additional purchase while there. This incentivizes programs like Buy Online, Pick Up In-store (BOPIS) and other tactics like in-store only coupons to continue and encourage shoppers to come into the brick-and-mortar location.

Many shoppers over the holidays will also venture to malls and shopping centres in order to do bulk shopping (i.e. pick-up multiple presents or supplies in close proximity to each other) or to explore options in order to choose a gift.

“Our annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey once again shows that consumers are not only optimistic about the upcoming holiday season, but also continue to favor physical stores when shopping for gifts,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “Consumers expect convenience and experience when shopping, which means that those retailers with a good omnichannel strategy will likely see success this holiday season.”

The findings would suggest that customer confidence continues to have staying power with brick and mortar, and shows that the slope might not be as slippery as once thought. In general, it may not be that an extreme trend towards all online or all in-store is a realistic endpoint for this new customer journey. Rather, a blend of online and in-store seems to be holding for current shopper behaviour.

And that’s a happy holiday for us all, isn’t it?