ICSC Forecasts 3.3 Percent Growth this Holiday Season

Ninety-one percent of shoppers will shop in-store this holiday season; 80 percent of American adults will participate in activities other than shopping when visiting a shopping center

NEW YORK--()--Today, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) released its annual holiday forecast, predicting a 3.3 percent year-over-year growth (compared to 2.2 percent increase in 2015) in retail sales at physical stores this holiday season. According to ICSC’s Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey, holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of $683.90 this year. In-store purchases continue to dominate, with 91 percent of holiday shoppers planning to spend at physical stores. This total increases to 96 percent when taking into account holiday shoppers who will spend online with retailers that have a physical presence.

Physical and Digital Retail Converge, Luring Consumers to Spend

Holiday shoppers expect an omnichannel experience this season. Digital resources will benefit consumers and retailers as 85 percent of holiday shoppers indicated they will research online before making holiday purchases in-store. Thirty-nine percent of holiday shoppers plan to utilize click and collect, an uptick from 2015 (32 percent). Further, 83 percent of these shoppers will make additional purchases in-store when picking up their online order.

“We continue to see positive consumer spending intentions ahead of the holiday season, with an emphasis on shopping in physical stores,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers. “Throughout 2016, consumers have demonstrated a tendency to shop across both digital and physical retail. Even shoppers who purchase online favor retailers with a physical presence and an increasing number of consumers are buying online and collecting in stores. Consumer intentions show that this digital/physical convergence will be critical for the health of the industry as we close out the year.”

Americans Crave the Holiday Experience

Experience is key this holiday season, as 80 percent of consumers surveyed indicated they will participate in activities other than shopping when visiting a shopping center. Fifty-three percent of those who will visit a shopping center will dine at restaurants and food establishments, while thirty-six percent will see a movie. Santa continues to be a draw as half (50 percent) of adults visiting a center with children under the age of 13 plan to have their child’s picture taken with Santa this holiday season.

Shoppers intend to take advantage of the diverse options for shopping, spending across channels. Most prominently, consumers are reliant upon omnichannel retailers versus pure play online or solely physical retailers.

  • 96% will spend in store or online through a retailer with a physical presence
  • 59% will spend at Amazon
  • 44% will spend online from retailers with a physical presence and ship purchase home
  • 39% will spend online from retailers with a physical presence and pick up items in-store
  • 21% will spend from all other pure online retailers
  • 23% will spend from catalogs, phone orders

Holiday Shoppers Head to Stores for Immediate Satisfaction

With intentions to shop at physical stores high, consumers cite the following reasons for why they favor in-store holiday spending:

  • The ability to see, touch or try on merchandise (52%)
  • The ability to get the item immediately (50%)
  • Not wanting to pay for shipping (42%)
  • Ease of returning/exchanging the item (35%)
  • Convenience of one-stop shopping (31%)

Gift Cards, Apparel to Be Purchased by More than Half of Shoppers

The top five categories in which Americans are planning to spend this holiday season are:

  • Gift cards/certificates (64%)
  • Apparel and footwear (51%)
  • Toys and games (not including apps or video games) (46%)
  • Men/women’s accessories, cosmetics, fragrances (39%)
  • Electronics (any type) (38%)

ICSC Holiday Forecast

ICSC forecasts an increase across all retail categories this holiday season. Notable growth categories include:

  • Health and personal care stores (8.1%)
  • Miscellaneous store retailers (3.6%)
  • Building material, garden equipment and supply stores (1.8%)
  • Electronics and appliance stores (1.4%)


The ICSC Holiday Intention Forecast Survey was conducted online by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of ICSC from September 19-22, 2016. The survey represents a demographically representative U.S. sample of 2,037 adults 18 years of age and older.

The ICSC Holiday Forecast figure was derived using an exponential smoothing time series model based on not seasonally adjusted monthly retail sales less the automotive sectors and non-store vendors. The forecast represents the combined November and December year-over-year increase in nominal terms. The constituent retail categories were calculated using the same technique.

About ICSC

Founded in 1957, ICSC is the global trade association of the shopping center industry. Its more than 70,000 members in over 100 countries include shopping center owners, developers, managers, investors, retailers, brokers, academics, and public officials. The shopping center industry is essential to economic development and opportunity. It is a significant job creator, driver of GDP, and critical revenue source for the communities it serves through the generation of sales taxes and the payment of property taxes. These taxes fund important municipal services like firefighters, police officers, school services, and infrastructure like roadways and parks. Shopping centers aren’t only fiscal engines however; they are integral to the social fabric of their communities by providing a central place to congregate with friends and family, discuss community matters, and participate in and encourage philanthropic endeavors. For more information about ICSC visit www.icsc.org and for the latest news from ICSC and the industry go to www.thecenterofshopping.com.


Stephanie Cegielski, +1 646-728-3572
Vice President, Public Relations


Stephanie Cegielski, +1 646-728-3572
Vice President, Public Relations