Shoppers' View of Spending May not Line Up with Reality

Digital spending overestimated

September 22, 2017

Digital shopping options have become so central to consumers’ thinking that shoppers appear to vastly overestimate the amount they spend online vs. in-store.

A recent survey by ThinkNow Research asked respondents how they expected to split up their purchases this holiday season. Digital options outweighed in-store buying.

The survey respondents said they expected 44% of their purchasing to occur in-store, vs. 39% online. But purchases via mobile app were expected to make up an additional 7%, meaning that digital options accounted for 46% of all anticipated holiday purchasing.

The perceived skew is significantly out of line with how spending actually has been allocated. In 2016, holiday season retail sales totaled $900.89 billion, according to data from the US Department of Commerce. eMarketer estimates that digital transactions made up $91.76 billion of the total, or about 10%.

The fact that consumers see themselves spending so heavily via online channels is presumably a reflection of the significant role digital research plays in the shopping cycle. That consumers feel they may be committing nearly half of their spending on digital channels signals that the purchasing process has become truly omnichannel.

Interestingly, the ThinkNow survey found that Amazon was cited as a shopping resource more commonly than any other retailer. Almost two-thirds of respondents said they would shop there for the holidays, compared with 55% for Walmart and 41% for Target.

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash