NEW YORK: Most Americans expect to do their holiday shopping from late November onward, but the decisions about where they will shop and what they will buy will be largely determined by digital interactions occurring now.

“Whether a retailer is online or store-based, their digital influence is one of the strongest cards to play this holiday season,” according to Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader.

The consulting firm’s 32nd Annual Holiday Survey of consumer spending intentions and trends, based on a poll of 5,085 consumers, found that retailers have a 75% probability of converting a desktop or laptop shopper to a purchaser along with a 59% probability of converting a smartphone shopper.

It also predicted that online spending would overtake in-store spending for the first time, as respondents indicated an intention to spend 51% of their budget online, compared with 42% in store (in 2016 the figures were tied at 47% each).

Higher-income households are even more inclined to buy online, Deloitte reported, as those earning $100,000 expect 57% of their spending will be online, and just 39% in-store.

Online destinations are also widening the gap among places consumers plan to shop for gifts.

This year, 55% plan to shop online for gifts, increasing this channel’s lead over mass merchants at 44%. Department stores are a distant third at 28%, down 3 percentage points from last year.

“The amount people are actually spending on gifts remains steady compared with prior surveys, but we’ve watched the mix of total holiday spending shift incrementally over the last five years,” said Sides.

So, for example, around a quarter of respondents plan to gift experiences or plan to host and attend holiday events with friends and family instead of a traditional gift exchange.

“It’s the lure of shopping and the experience that is flourishing and likely to remain in high demand,” Sides added, “all which bodes well for retailers that have created an experience blending one-of-a-kind items, inspiration, uncomplicated navigation and frictionless transactions.”

Sourced from Deloitte; additional content by WARC staff