Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, consumers have relied on e-commerce for making purchases, but that may be changing this holiday season.

According to an annual holiday purchase intentions survey from The NPD Group, the number of consumers planning to shop online for the holidays fell from 85 percent last year to 80 percent this year, which is the largest ever shift favoring stores. This is also the first year, since before the pandemic, that consumers expect to make more of their holiday purchases in stores (46 percent) than online (45 percent).

“After more than two years of heavy online shopping, consumers are ready to get back to the sport of shopping,” says Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for NPD. “Despite saying they plan on scaling back holiday spending this year, sales revenue through October fell 1 percent below last year’s levels, which shows that shoppers are still willing to spend money on general merchandise, even as prices continue to rise.”

NPD reports that fewer than three-quarters of consumers expect to shop online-only sites during the holidays, down from 79 percent last year. Among those planning to shop online, 16 percent plan to pick up their purchases in stores or curbside, compared to 14 percent last year, increasing foot-traffic at brick-and-mortar stores.

“Impulse and self-gifting are an integral part of the holiday mix, without them, it is hard to achieve growth,” Cohen says. “Success this season depends on the ability of retailers to leverage promotions and exciting products that play to feelings of shopping cheer. Increasing in-store shopping levels will deliver greater benefits to retailers that can entice consumers into buying on impulse, which could help move excess inventory out the door while also giving store bottom-lines a boost.”