New Research: Exploring the Spending Behavior & Lifestyle Habits of Department Store Shoppers


Historically, department stores have played an enormous role in American shopping, with iconic retailers like Macy’s being the quintessential anchor tenant in every major shopping mall.

However, with American buying power still suffering from the 2008 recession and sharp shifts in shopping habits due to a housing market recovery and a new generation of tech-savvy Millennial shoppers, department stores are facing tough times. In the first quarter of 2016 alone, department stores lost an estimated $348 million in apparel revenue while digital giant Amazon grew apparel sales by $1.4 billion according to the Wall Street Journal.

In order to maintain their staying power in the new digital-first economy, department stores need a single view of their customer across all of their online and offline channels.

Viant’s exclusive new research, The Anatomy of a Department Store Shopper, explores just that by providing rich insights on the spending behavior and lifestyle habits of consumers from three top national department stores: Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Kohl’s.

With insights like where a shopper drinks coffee, what kind of vehicle they drive, and what TV shows they watch, this new research paints a more complete picture of the unique persona behind each retailer’s customer. As a result, advertisers can get actionable insights about their consumers’ online and offline behaviors, empowering them with the ability to deliver the right message, on the right device, at the right time.

Using the Viant Advertising Cloud’s Identity Management Platform (IMP), Viant analyzed the shopping habits of nearly three million U.S. residents representing a sample of shoppers in the upper quartile by per capita spending for each department store. Based on those segments, Viant was then able to compare that data to other attributes in the IMP such as household income, television viewing behavior, grocery purchases, auto ownership, and more.

Let’s look at a few of the key findings and insights from the report:


Increasing Shopper Diversity

The increasing youth and diversity of the overall American population reflects the diversity seen at each retailer. Of the three retailers, Macy’s contains the most ethnically diverse shoppers. In fact, Macy’s shoppers are 2.5x more likely to be African American than Kohl’s shoppers and 2x more likely than Nordstrom shoppers. Macy’s shoppers are also 2.4x more likely to be Hispanic than Kohl’s shoppers and 1.6x more likely than Nordstrom shoppers.

Viant Ethnic Diversity


Evolving TV Viewing Habits

In a very short span of time, the concept of television went from one big screen in the living room to a multiplicity of different screens accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Overall, viewing behaviors among all three department store shoppers were similar, with each shopper watching roughly three hours of TV per day on average and an additional two hours of streaming video per day on smartphone, tablets, and work/home computers. In particular, Nordstrom shoppers reported the highest total hours of video consumption across all device types, totaling 6.4 hours daily. You can see more detailed TV show preferences in the graphic below:

Viant TV Viewing Habits

Auto Preferences

Although individual transportation in the U.S. is evolving with the rise of Uber and the first self-driving vehicles, there are still more than 260 million registered vehicles in the U.S. according to the Department of Transportation. Among our retailers, Kohl’s shoppers are nearly 2x more likely to own a Chevy Silverado than Macy’s shoppers. Macy’s shoppers prefer compact cars, and are a significant 81% more likely to own a Toyota than Kohl’s customers.

As vehicle preferences have long had a high correlation to other shopping and brand affinities, retailers can capitalize on auto insights to target


Get more consumer insights in the White Paper.


  • #consumer behavior
  • #cross device
  • #department stores
  • #deterministic targeting
  • #digital advertising
  • #holiday shopping
  • #people-based advertising
  • #research
  • #retail
  • #retail trends
  • #return on investment
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