NEW YORK: Brick-and-mortar retailers may face a challenging Black Friday as more consumers choose to make purchases online, a new study suggests.

Market Track, the intelligence provider, surveyed 1,000 people regarding their probable shopping preferences on Thanksgiving and Black Friday – traditionally a key period in the retail calendar.

And it found that only 40% of respondents expected to shop in brick-and-mortar outlets on Black Friday. That total stood at 30% for Thanksgiving, compared with 50% last year.

Fully 80% of those polled, by contrast, anticipated making purchases from Amazon this year, representing growth of six percentage points from 2016.

Ryne Misso, Director of Marketing at Market Track, argued that these figures hint at a long-term trend which has been observable in the retail space.

“The decline in both store traffic and positive consumer sentiment towards Black Friday in-store events is well-documented. The reality is the battlefront has shifted to digital commerce, and that trend is only going to pick up steam,” he said.

“This holiday season, look for Black Friday to morph into Cyber Friday, where the top deals and unique shopping experiences will take place, perhaps first and foremost, online.”

Drilling down into its survey results, Market Track reported that Walmart was set to be the “top destination” among the interviewees who were likely to shop in physical stores.

A majority of the sample also believed that the “best deals on the most popular holiday gifting items” – a list including electronics, television sets and sporting goods – would be available via online channels.

While social media is soaking up a significant share of consumers’ time spent on digital media, however, it remains a comparatively niche destination when it comes to engaging in commerce.

Market Track’s survey supported this claim with the finding that a modest 5% of respondents intended to seek out sales and deals on these platforms. Some 21%, though, planned to make purchases from such properties.

Data sourced from Market Track; additional content by WARC staff