Throughout CivicScience’s ongoing consumer holiday trends tracking this year, one notion is predominantly clear: online shopping is the method of choice for holiday shoppers. The latest such tracking data find 13% of U.S. adult holiday shoppers (down three percentage points from last year) will do all of their gift shopping in person. What does the data tell us about in-person shopping as we inch closer to the holiday season? Who is likely to head to the malls in search of gifts?

Promotional mall events gain momentum even as mall shopping interest remains stagnant.

Overall interest in holiday shopping at malls has changed little since last year – consumers at least ‘somewhat’ likely to head to a mall for gifts fell a single percentage point to 42%. Promotional events at the mall during the holiday season, on the other hand, have undergone a six percentage point swing in interest YoY, with 30% now reporting they’re at least ‘somewhat’ interested in attending such an event.

Financial stability continues to factor into mall holiday gift shopping.

The trifecta of student loan debt, inflation, and steep interest rates has helped turn everyday practices into luxuries – holiday shopping at the mall is potentially one such example of this. The latest polling data find holiday mall shopping is increasingly appealing to those better off post-pandemic, while those more negatively impacted are now even less likely to head to a mall for gift shopping. Consumers earning $100-150K per year (across all age groups) are also the most likely to shop for holiday gifts at the mall. 

In-store shoppers are slightly more likely to reduce holiday spending this year.

Even though mall and in-store shopping attract a more financially stable crowd, they are still more likely to spend less than last year. Twenty-nine percent of consumers planning to shop for the holidays entirely in-person report they will spend less on the holidays this year (compared to 26% of online shoppers). Online shoppers also are slightly more likely to expect to spend more this year.

Five more insights about this season’s in-person holiday shoppers:

  • Young adults, particularly Gen Z (aged 18-24) are far more likely to shop for holiday gifts at the mall. 
  • Like their online-shopping counterparts, they plan to prioritize clothing and children’s toys; they are more likely to shop for gifts related to home and outdoors as well as food and cooking.
  • In-person shoppers are most likely to shop for gifts this year at discount stores like Walmart (33%), small or local businesses (32%) or department stores (18%) (excluding those unsure).
  • Compared to online shoppers, in-store shoppers are more likely to shop on Thanksgiving Day this year, but less likely to shop on Black Friday or over Thanksgiving weekend.
  • In-store shoppers cite the ‘ability to see and touch products’ (33%),  ‘deals in stores’ (27%), and ‘holiday music, decorations, displays’ (26%) as aspects they enjoy most about shopping in-person.

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