Shorter holiday shopping period might boost traditional retail stores

Posted on: 6:15 pm, December 5, 2013, by

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E-commerce has so far been the success story of a tumultuous holiday spending season. But as the season progresses, some experts said the advantage may shift to brick-and-mortar stores more heavily than in past years.

Following a solid Cyber Monday—which logged the heaviest online spending numbers in history, increasing by 18 percent to $1.74 billion, according to comScore—some analysts said that frenzied shoppers will likely turn to physical stores for last-minute purchases.

Noting that this year has six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than last year, Citi analysts Oliver Chen and Kate McShane wrote in separate notes that late shoppers’ anxiety over shipping speed could send more of them to stores to avoid worries that online buys may not arrive by Christmas.

“With the shortness of the holiday season, brick-and-mortar stores might be winners because of the likelihood of last-minute buying,” McShane wrote.

A study by analytics firm ShopperTrak said that it expects to see more shoppers making late purchases this year, and the last four days before Christmas will be among the 10 busiest. That might be one reason why Kohl’s announced Thursday that for the first time it will be open 24 hours a day leading up to Christmas, starting at 6 a.m. Dec. 20 and ending at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Other retailers may follow suit.

ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said that despite a busy end to November—caused by the late Thanksgiving—the majority of holiday sales actually occur in December. This year, he predicts about 55 percent of the season’s sales will come from December.