Home Blog 2019 Did deep online apparel discounts overcome the need to touch and feel?
Dec 9, 2019

Online Holiday Delights

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The weather outside was frightful, and online shopping was so delightful.  Since we’ve no place to go . . . ship to home, ship to home, ship to home!  Weather will be an important factor this holiday as there are fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Snow already hit a number of states across the U.S. impacting holiday in-store traffic but hopefully driving sales online.  Over 75%* percent of holiday shoppers plan to buy something online, this season, making it the top destination.  This is a bit concerning for a “touch and feel” category like apparel as it will impact impulse shopping, especially as consumers already stated they plan to buy fewer clothes this holiday*. 

Consumers agree it is easier to coordinate outfits when they are in the store compared to online. But do not fret, there is some cross-over as more than a quarter (28%)** stated that they find it equally easy for both methods.  This is a big opportunity for online apparel shopping, particularly when it comes to gift-giving.  Consumers are looking to online for convenience.  Helping pair outfits together for gift seekers not only saves time but also could combat against the lack of impulse sales given less time spent in stores.

This year, Cyber Monday online deals seemed a bit lackluster when it came to apparel.  Deals were promoted earlier on Black Friday (or before) and had greater staying power.  In many cases it was the same offering being promoted multiple times.  With the shortened season, retailers wanted to capture the consumers’ attention out of the gate, spreading out the season rather than solely focusing on a few select days.  Some retailers offered incentives to buy now and come back in the future.  One that caught my attention (as well as my wallet) was Target’s online Black Friday offering which emailed shoppers that spent $50 or more a 20% coupon to be used at a later date.  Kohl’s did something similar by increasing Kohl’s cash for future spending from $10 to $15.     

Now don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of apparel deals to be had on Cyber Monday.  Many offered an additional percentage off (~10-15% bonus) on top of the continued Black Friday sale as icing on the cake.  However, waiting for this extra bonus also meant the risk of popular sizes being out of stock as more people (present company included) started earlier compared to 2018.  With another 20%* planning to start their shopping after Cyber Monday, we expect promotions (online and in-store) to continue. 

In some cases offerings were better online than in the actual stores – the reason I am on a first name bases with all the delivery drivers.  But as we get further into December, holiday shoppers will need to be mindful of order dates to avoid expedited shipping costs.  And with 4%* of consumers saving their holiday shopping for the last minute, I suspect there will be longer online pick-up lines in stores as the season progresses.

Source: The NPD Group/ Annual Holiday Survey
** Source: The NPD Group / Consumer Tracking Service, 12 ME Oct’19

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