Holiday sales boomed this year, growing by 5.5%, the biggest increase since the Great Recession. Digital commerce drove much of that growth. While many brands also benefited from increased in-store sales, these could often be attributed to ramped-up digital efforts, according to L2’s holiday report.
Kohl’s and Target comparable sales increased 6.9% and 3.4% respectively during the holiday season, driven by both digital growth and an increase in store traffic. The holiday season was not so magical for Sears, with comparable sales falling over 15% as the brand continued to close stores.
Those results illustrate the importance of integrating physical and digital channels. Target uses stores as fulfillment centers and hubs for its Same Day Delivery and Drive Up offerings, while other retailers increasingly use commerce emails to highlight items available in-store. This year, 26% of commerce emails by retailers in L2’s holiday report drove customers to brands’ physical stores. These messages sought to tempt procrastinating shoppers with subject lines like “There’s Still Time! Stores Are Open Until 6pm on 12/24” and “In the St. Nick of time + Fast and Free store pickup.”
Driving digital customers to stores during the holiday season adds value in a multitude of areas. Brands can earn incremental sales when customers pick up orders, and when retailers are no longer able to fulfill online orders in time for key holiday deadlines, they can make these sales in person. Additionally, stores present an opportunity to offer differentiated experiences exclusive to the holiday season. For example, Walmart hosted parties and turned associates into Holiday Helpers, making in-store shopping both unique and enjoyable.