Survey results indicate consumers more likely to shop in-store than online this holiday season

DALLAS — September  19, 2016 — Epsilon®, a global leader in creating connections between people and brands, today released findings from its 2016 holiday shopping survey, which asked consumers how they intend to approach the upcoming holiday shopping season. 87% of respondents are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to purchase at brick and mortar stores this year, with 55% of respondents “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to look at a product online and then go to a store to buy. Conversely, 76% of respondents are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to purchase online this holiday season, with 54% of respondents “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to look in store for a product and go online to find the best deal. These findings further signify the importance of personalizing communications both online and offline and creating a seamless customer journey across marketing channels.

The online study of nearly 2,300 U.S. consumers 25 years of age or older was conducted by Epsilon in April 2016. Throughout the report, findings from the company’s 2015 shopping survey are compared for year-over-year changes.

“Where consumers are shopping for the upcoming holiday season is less important than how they are getting there. This study shows that digital channels continue to steer consumers on their non-linear path-to-purchase and influence buying decisions, identifying a huge opportunity for marketers to reach consumers in the moments that matter most,” shared Tom Edwards Chief Digital Officer, Agency for Epsilon. “Leading up to the holiday season, retailers need to continue to focus on creating consistent and contextually relevant experiences for consumers across devices, time and media. If they’re not engaging in this manner they risk losing out on their share of holiday shopping budgets.”

Findings from the report include:

Retailers’ offline efforts are merry and bright

87% of respondents report being “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to purchase at the store this holiday season. Respondents prefer brick and mortar stores because of their ability to assess products in person.

Respondents also show a propensity towards offline advertising. 77% of respondents feel advertisements received by mail will have at least “some influence” on their buying decisions this holiday shopping season. This compared to 41% of respondents who feel banner advertisements when searching online will have at least “some influence” on their buying decisions. Respondents indicated they are influenced by direct mail because it usually contains an offer or discount and the format allows for leisurely review time.

“To improve the level of influence from online advertising efforts, retailers need to leverage offline and online insights to create personalized experiences that take into account consumers’ desire for offers or discounts,” added Edwards “Utilizing a more targeted approach to online advertising will also create a more compelling and engaging cross-channel experience for consumers.”

The report indicates that cross-channel shopping behaviors are likely to drive in-store purchases. 55% of respondents report that they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to look at a product online and then go to a store to buy it.

Holiday shoppers are making their lists and checking them twice, starting with digital channels

90% of respondents plan to access online sites or emails to learn about the best deals before starting their shopping journey, compared to 88% of respondents in 2015. Notably, 47% of respondents said they will do this regularly during the 2016 holiday shopping season, compared to 37% in 2015.

Social media’s role in the path-to-purchase is increasing too. Of those who are “very likely” to use Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for gift ideas, 65% of respondents indicate they use Pinterest because the ideas that they see are relevant to them, higher than Facebook (32%) and Instagram (37%).

Email remains relevant as well with 73% of respondents saying an email sent directly from a brand will have “a lot of” or “some” influence on their buying decisions this holiday season. Respondents report being influenced by this type of advertising because they find it personal and the emails they receive are from brands they like.

Retailers find holiday shopping cheer throughout the year

Of those who reported having started their holiday shopping at the time of the survey, 54% of respondents said they began their 2016 holiday shopping in Q1 2016, compared to 36% who reported starting their 2015 holiday shopping in Q1 2015. These respondents are more likely to be promotional shoppers, spending more in the post-holiday months when deep discounts are typically offered.

Respondents are slowing down their shopping behaviors, as 77% report taking a lot of time to pick the perfect gift for most people on their list. Still, sentiment for peak holiday shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday remains the same. 39% of respondents plan to shop on Cyber Monday in 2016, while 37% reported shopping on that day in 2015. 32% of respondents reported shopping on Black Friday in 2015 and that same percentage plans to shop Black Friday in 2016.

For more information, download Epsilon’s 2016 holiday shopping survey here.

About the Methodology

This report on customer insights is based on a Shoppers Voice® survey conducted in April 2016. The online survey was completed by 2,294 U.S. responders in the Shopper’s Voice database 25 years of age or older. Results are shown for the total sample and/or demographic groups. Results were weighted based on age of responder. Weighted total sample sizes from groups within the study are as follows: Total = 2,294; By age: Under 45 = 866, 45-54 = 548, 55-64 = 355, 65+ = 511; By household income: Under $50,000 = 825, $50,000 - $99,999 = 702, $100,000 or over = 360; By location: Urban = 1,294, Rural = 975.

About Epsilon

Epsilon is a global leader in creating connections between people and brands. An all-encompassing global marketing company, we harness the power of rich data, groundbreaking technologies, engaging creative and transformative ideas to get the results our clients require. Recognized by Ad Age as the #1 World’s Largest CRM/Direct Marketing Network, #1 Largest U.S. Agency from All Disciplines and #1 Largest U.S. Mobile Marketing Agency, Epsilon employs over 7,000 associates in 70 offices worldwide. Epsilon is an Alliance Data company. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @EpsilonMktg or call 1.800.309.0505.