Online sales during the holiday season are likely to exceed their 2009 levels as shoppers shift away from shopping at some brick-and-mortar operations such as electronics and warehouse stores, said market research firm The NPD Group in a report Wednesday.
About 19% of surveyed consumers said they would holiday shop at an electronics store this year, compared to 26% in 2009, while warehouse club stores will attract about 17% of U.S. shoppers, down from 21% a year ago, according to NPD. Outlet stores may also see a drop.
Such changes in shopping habits will likely benefit online giant Amazon.com (AMZN), and concerns about the trend have attracted a number of retailers to ShopRunner.com, a recently-launched service that offers customers two-day shipping and free returns for an unlimited number of items for a $79 annual subscription fee. Toys R Us, Borders (BGP) and Barnes & Noble (BKS) are among the corporate clients of ShopRunner.com.
"As consumers 'pre-search' by scouring websites for the best prices and deals, they will likely discover that shopping online offers not only competitive prices but a whole lot more convenience and they decide to buy online," said NPD Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen in Wednesday's statement.
Additionally, the percentage of shoppers planning to shop for holiday gifts at discount stores will fall to 54% this year from 58% in 2009, according to the NPD study, while national chains and department stores may also see slight declines.