Brick-and-Mortar Chains Put E-Commerce on the Defensive for Once

  • Fewer consumers plan to shop online over Black Friday weekend
  • Still, shoppers expect to spend 52% of weekend budget online
The Death of the Department Store

Traditional retailers may be able to breathe a (brief) sigh of relief this weekend.

Only 47 percent of U.S. consumers plan to shop online during this year’s Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving sales bonanza that kicks off the holiday season, according to a survey from Deloitte LP. That compares with 55 percent last year. More than two-thirds of respondents, meanwhile, plan to visit brick-and-mortar stores.

The results mark a rare counterattack to the onslaught of Amazon.com Inc. and other online sellers. But traditional retailers won’t be able to take too much comfort in the reprieve. Shoppers plan to spend 52 percent of their budgets online over the course of the holiday weekend, Deloitte found.

Black Friday is still enough of a social activity that Americans like to do it in person, said Rod Sides, vice chairman at Deloitte. That’s helped the chains push back against e-commerce on that day.

“A lot of folks going home for the holiday might go out with their mother, grandmother or friend,” he said in an interview. “That does really bode well for brick-and-mortar guys.”

In the long run, the online threat remains as ominous as ever for physical stores. Deloitte expects e-commerce sales to swell by 18 percent to 21 percent during the holiday season. That’s faster than last year’s rate of 14 percent.

It doesn’t help that shoppers are increasingly using stores for smaller items, Sides said.

“Folks are going to stores for clothing and accessories,” he said. “Bigger-ticket items are probably bought online.”

— With assistance by Janet Freund

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