Online Versus Brick & Mortar: Who Will Win this Holiday Season

Jenn Reichenbacher |

October 31, 2013

holiday shopping

Halloween is here, which means one thing. No, not that there’s going to be an abundance of candy around your house tonight and in the office tomorrow. It means the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. Yes, most consider the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, to be the official kick-off for retail shopping, but, in my opinion, it really begins on November 1st, if not before. We all see it – the transformation of your favorite retailer into holiday wonderland with tress, sparkles, dreidels and a lot more.

But, even as a growing percentage of holiday shoppers begin their buying earlier, the official start of the holiday season in terms of deals and value comes on Black Friday – or does it? Has Cyber Monday taken over the holiday discount pole position? According to a recent study released by American Express, more consumers are actually choosing online (Cyber Monday) over brick & mortar (Black Friday) for this year’s best deals, with 55% of consumers surveyed (vs. 39% in 2012) noting that they’ll shop the virtual blowout sales instead of fighting the crowds the day after Thanksgiving (52% vs. 45% in 2012).

When it all comes down to it, the deals are driving the activity, with nearly half of all respondents (47%) planning on using coupons or promotions for their holiday shopping this year. And, regardless of the type of coupon they use (physical printout or mobile), 82% say they’ll opt for a hybrid approach to saving, shopping both in-store and online, with the top shopping destinations identified as:

  • Superstores (66% vs. 68% in 2012)
  • Department Stores (62%, up significantly from 48% in 2012)
  • Large Electronic Stores (45%, up significantly from 36% in 2012)
  • Small Businesses (38%, up from 31% in 2012)
  • Mainstream retail stores (36%, up from 24% in 2012)


Of course, every shopper has his or her preference in terms of buying. Whether it’s online, in-store, or a combination of the two, the best news this holiday season is that consumers are planning on spending more, which is great news for small, mid- and even large, Big Box, retailers as well as online merchants and specialty stores.