Showrooming to affect up to $1.7 billion in 2012 holiday retail sales

Framingham, Mass. -- IDC Retail Insights on Wednesday released a new survey report, “Business Strategy: At Hand Versus In Hand — Will Consumers Have the Upper Hand in the 2012 Holiday Showroom Showdown?,” which found that 48 million shoppers will “showroom” or use their smartphones in some manner while they shop in stores during the upcoming winter holiday season.

This represents a 134% increase from 2011 when 20.5 million shoppers showroomed. IDC Retail Insights forecasts that the number of showrooming shoppers will grow to 59 million next year, 69 million in 2014, and 78 million in 2015. This year, according to the new research, showrooming behaviors will influence $0.7 to $1.7 billion in holiday retail purchases.

Key highlights of the new report include:

  • Big-ticket items, in particular those that consumers can easily evaluate by reading descriptions, specifications, ratings, and reviews, will be the most showroomed items this year;
  • 7% to 13% of consumer electronics shoppers will use their smartphones at least once in stores this season; showrooming activities will touch 1.4% of consumer electronic sales.

  • Apparel and footwear is the second most heavily showroomed category. Between 4% and 8% of shoppers will showroom this category this year affecting about 1% of its sales; 

  • 64% think what they'll learn in the store with their smartphones will have at least as much influence on their decision as what they'll learn online before coming into the store;
  • 56% to 60% of shoppers with their smartphones in-hand say that they will be “more likely” or “much more likely” to buy what they find in the store as they shop this season when assisted by trustworthy knowledgeable store associates; and
  • 41% of showrooming shoppers say that they will be “more likely” or “much more likely” to rely on their smartphones when they encounter retailers who offer private or exclusive merchandise.

“The merchandising and customer services strategies that differentiate a retailer and define its value bear on showrooming shoppers’ propensity to rely on their smartphones in stores,” said Greg Girard, program director, IDC Retail Insights. “Private labels or exclusive brands, customer service, and loyalty stand out as the most promising strategies for dealing with showrooming.”