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Mix of Online and In-Store Purchasing Expected for Holiday Shopping Season

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The vast majority of consumers will wait in line and shop online to find Thanksgiving deals this year, according to new research by the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, sponsored by KPMG.

The survey shows consumers increasingly prefer to shop both in stores and online (83 percent) or online only (12 percent). Very few (5 percent) plan to shop solely in brick-and-mortar stores. When asked about their preference for online shopping, either as a primary method or in combination with in-store shopping, most respondents cited convenience and better deals. This represents a 32 percent increase from last year in the number of consumers who will be shopping online and in stores, according to the survey.

Eighty-six percent of consumers plan to purchase apparel during Thanksgiving sales, beating out electronics and recreation items (both 67 percent). This is a shift from 2013, when nearly all (95 percent) of respondents planned to shop for electronics.

The institute’s results also showed:

  • Consumers plan to spend, on average, $366.67 at Thanksgiving sales this year;
  • The majority of consumers say they will spend the same or less on online shopping (73.4 percent) and in-store shopping (83.5 percent). In fact, the only subset of consumers planning to spend more this year is men and high-income individuals who are planning to shop online
  • Consumers overwhelmingly shop at their regular retailers for sales, with few venturing to new stores;
  • Store websites are the most popular resource for consumers to find deals, followed by deal websites, and friends and family. Only 5 percent of respondents cited social media;
  • Debit cards are the most popular form of payment, followed by credit cards and cash;
  • Most consumers (79 percent) say the quality of deals will be good or very good, up from 53 percent last year; and
  • Black Friday is the most popular shopping day, followed by Cyber Monday.

Retailers may view Thanksgiving sales as an opportunity to attract new customers. However, most consumers (64 percent) plan to shop at stores they already frequent regularly. Only 4 percent of consumers plan to shop at retailers that they rarely visit during the rest of the year.

“Our findings indicate that this year’s Thanksgiving sales will compel consumers who are seeking deals and who would not buy without a deal to buy desired items,” said Kurt Carlson, director of the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research. “This is good news for retailers. But there also is bad news. Most of the consumers in our sample will shop at stores they already frequent, which means that while the price discounts will compel consumers to buy, retailers offering deals will not attract new consumers to their stores.”

According to the survey, consumers who prefer to shop online have different attitudes than those who prefer shopping in a store. Consumers who find the experience of in-store shopping unpleasant are more likely to engage in online shopping.

“The trip to the mall and the online shopping experience are clearly part of today’s Thanksgiving Day plan,” said Alton L. Adams, KPMG U.S. lead, customer strategy and growth. “However, prudent spending and few ‘new’ customers will challenge whether the extended shopping season is truly a time of growth for retailers.”

“The battle between internet and in-store shopping that began two decades ago has just ended in a truce,” said Carlson. “Consumers like the convenience of the internet and they like the social aspect of in-store shopping, as well as the ability to feel and see the products in person. Rather than pick one mode over the other, the vast majority of consumers have decided that a combination approach suits them best.”

The 2014 Thanksgiving Intent Survey was conducted in the first week of November to understand how consumers plan to shop on and around the Thanksgiving holiday. The respondents were drawn from an online sample of 1,037 U.S. consumers. To download the complete report, visit

About the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research:

The Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, sponsored by KPMG, develops innovative, ground-breaking research to illuminate the challenges and opportunities of understanding and marketing to consumers. Combining the academic expertise at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business and the deep understanding of the marketplace found at KPMG, the institute seeks to impact business practice and improve consumer decision-making. For more information or to read the latest research from the institute, visit

About Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business:
Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business provides a transformational education through classroom and experiential learning, preparing students to graduate as principled leaders in the service to business and society. Through numerous centers, initiatives, and partnerships, Georgetown McDonough seeks to create a meaningful impact on business practice through both research and teaching. All academic programs provide a global perspective, woven through the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in a way that is unique to Washington, D.C. – the nexus of world business and policy – and to Georgetown University’s connections to global partner organizations and a world-wide alumni network. Founded in 1957, Georgetown McDonough is home to some 1,400 undergraduates, 1,000 MBA students, and 1,200 participants in executive degree or open enrollment programs. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter: @msbgu.

About KPMG:

KPMG, the audit, tax, and advisory firm (, is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s member firms have 155,000 professionals, including more than 8,600 partners, in 155 countries.