Holiday Shopping: Not So Simple Anymore

Don't miss our special "User's Guide to Shopping" 6pmET tonight on FOX Business. Remember the good old days when you would go to an actual, physical store to get a look at a product you wanted to buy, and then go back home and purchase that same product online for less money? This year, it just won’t be that simple anymore. That’s because major retailers and big box stores who experienced the brunt of the “showrooming” trend, that is to say squeezing the Charmin in the real world and going home to buy online, are having their revenge. They are beefing up their price matching policies this year and hoping more of us “webroom,” that is shop online and buy in store.

They may win. A survey of shoppers conducted by Accenture, shows 65% of shoppers this year will browse online and buy in store versus 63% who will buy online.

If the trend is the friend of brick and mortar retailers, they are trying to exploit it to their advantage. More and more of them are opening their doors on Thanksgiving. Best Buy will open at 6 p.m. next Thursday, while Toys R Us will open for four hours from 5 p.m. tp 9 p.m. Target will open at 8 p.m. Macy’s and Kohl’s will open on Thanksgiving for the first time this year. And, then there are the stunt promotions. Best Buy just announced the exclusive sales of the blue Samsung Galaxy S4 starting Nov. 14.

There is a lot at stake in this year’s holiday shopping season. Sales are expected to be down 2% from last year and retailers are using every trick in the book to land sales. For example, retailers have found that people who access a store’s website or app while in the store are 33% more likely to buy an item that day, says Andrea Woroch of Kinoli Inc. For that reason, Target is offering free Wi-Fi in its 1,750 stores. Macy’s is using what it calls “social retailing” to lure buyers, for example, promoting a “Magic Fitting Room” in which shoppers can try on styles virtually and put up the results online.

Watch, too, for location based deals. Brick and mortar retailers, taking a page from daily deal and flash websites, will offer coupons and discounts to shoppers via their mobile devices. Watch CouponSherpa, Foursquare and Shopkick for rewards and “check-in” deals.

It’s a brave new world when it comes to shopping for the holidays. Let’s just hope Mom and Dad can keep up!