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The holiday shopping rush will begin next week in earnest and, as they do every year, retailers are hoping that the most important season will be good to them.

While online channels have grown increasingly important in recent years, historically, the name of the game for retailers has been to get as many people lining up outside of stores at insane hours in anticipation of deals that await them when the doors open. 

But times are changing. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), fewer holiday bargain hunters will venture out on Black Friday and subsequent weekend. All told, the NRF expects 147m Americans to leave their homes for the mall next week, down from 152m in 2012.

In-store still trumps online, for now

While that may seem like a relatively modest decrease, it is indicative of a trend: more and more consumers are choosing digital convenience over brick-and-mortar deals. As the Wall Street Journal notes, some 40% of the $52.4bn consumers in the U.S. spent last year during the Black Friday weekend was generated online, and retailers are obviously taking note.

While a BDO survey of retailers found that more than half will offer juicier deals to their brick-and-mortar customers, a substantial number (44%) also say that they're treating their online and online efforts equally. That number will almost certainly continue to rise, particularly as more and more retailers decide that the pay off of a sensible omni-channel strategy justifies the required investment.

Convenience and instant gratification

When it comes to omni-channel strategy, it's apparent that retailers are figuring out that the competing online-offline value propositions of convenience and instant gratification don't have to be mutually exclusive. Sears, for instance, is looking to alleviate the stress and chaos often associated with the holiday's most desirable deals by giving select customers the ability to purchase some of its door buster deals online starting this weekend; those customers can then pick their purchased up in-store without worry of missing out -- or being caught in a mad dash.

Expect such arrangements to become the norm in coming years, with the most creative and accommodating retailers benefitting from both higher sales and happier customers.

Patricio Robles

Published 16 November, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)

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Jerry Movie (NetroStar)

Thanks for a nice analysis. It is actually very interesting how retailers are going to defend their market share and try to save their leading position. Another interesting thing is a set of strategies those combining online and offline selling should adopt. Not only do I think about the relation between instant gratification and convenience but also setting prices and combining all selling channels into one effective service.

over 3 years ago

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Vinícius Monteiro, Marketing Manager at CHARTRES

"a substantial number (44%) also say that they're treating their online and online efforts equally""

online and online

over 3 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I do all my shopping online. All of it. I suspect that in a few years the percentage of people doing their shopping online is only going to get bigger. You can't beat the convenience of being able to order from home and have something delivered right to your door.

over 3 years ago

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CatherinaLucy

Retailers plays a major role in the market.As the product is good then there is an increase in the shares.

over 3 years ago

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