In 2018, Holiday Shoppers Are Losing Trust in Social Media, Prefer Retailers With Physical Storefronts

Plus, how midterm elections could impact the busiest shopping time of the year.
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Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

It's officially November, which means the ~mooost lucrative tiiiime of the year~ for retailers is upon us. Businesses and shoppers alike are prepping their game plans for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the surrounding days, and Adobe is here once again with its annual online shopping predictions report — the most comprehensive of its kind.

As we know, holiday shopping has largely moved from physical stores to e-commerce sites. Adobe predicts that a record $124.1 billion will be spent online this season, up nearly 15 percent from last year. Comparatively, offline retail is expected to grow only 2.7 percent.

That said, Adobe found that there are major benefits to retailers having a physical storefront in addition to e-commerce. Because so many shoppers like to visit stores to see product IRL and then purchase it online, and due to the popularity of buy online/pickup in-store services, retailers with a physical store footprint have a 28-percent higher conversion rate than those without. Buy online/pickup in-store services have become especially popular this year, with sales more than doubling since January 2018. It's predicted to be particularly impactful for last-minute gifts.

Mobile is also still crucial for retailers as it's an increasingly popular way for shoppers to browse for product, but conversion on mobile is still not where it could be. To that end, Adobe advises retailers to improve the checkout experience on their mobile sites and apps — otherwise, they could miss out on an additional $9 billion in mobile sales.

Another potential area of loss for retailers is, curiously, social media. While this area has become a (if not the) top priority for marketing, it is apparently becoming less effective in driving sales. While visits to retail sites via links on social media are expected to more than double, actual spending is expected to decline 11 percent, making social media the only channel where revenue per visit will go down. The report also found, via survey, that 25 percent fewer respondents said that they consult social for gift ideas compared to two years ago. According to Adobe, this is a sign of "consumer trust [in social media] eroding" — an interesting and perhaps concerning insight given all the money brands and retailers are investing into social media and influencer marketing these days.

One timely cultural event that could have an impact on holiday sales as well is next week's midterm elections, though it won't be anything too significant: While visits to retail sites will slow down about 6 percent on Election Day and remain slightly slow for a couple of days after, they'll fully pick back up by Friday. Though if you are, for some reason, wondering whether you should spend your free time Nov. 6 voting or shopping, voting is indisputably the correct choice. The deals will still be there when you're done.

Adobe has even predicted which days will have the best deals for which gift category, too. For apparel and jewelry, it's Nov. 25, and we can't think of a more ideal post-Thanksgiving Sunday activity. If you're thinking of treating yourself to a little something in addition to your loved ones, don't feel bad: Around 13 percent of consumers (including me) are there with you.

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