Consumers plan to get their holiday fix in stores this season
Experience will play a key role in holiday shopping and celebrations
- Keisha Virtue
As we move closer to the holiday season, and the temperature in South Florida drops precipitously by 5 degrees, I’m really starting to feel the holiday spirit. Garlands of green, red and gold gild storefronts and the aroma of pumpkin spice is ubiquitous. It’s time to shop! And it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks so. In our recent Holiday Shopping Survey, consumers plan to start shopping even earlier this year. More than half – 53.8% - plan to start before Thanksgiving, and a little over 20% began before Halloween. These extra early birds were likely to be between 30 and 60 years old – presumably Millennials and Gen Xers with more kids to check off their lists. I, myself, have begun the price comparisons and gift coordination plans with family members for our 6-year-old. After talks broke down around the Barbie dream house, it looks like it’s the Bluey Playhouse for the win.
Here are three other things we learned about consumers’ shopping plans:
1. Consumers reluctant to cut back spending, including on themselves
At 7.7% above last year’s levels, inflation continues to be a major concern for Americans, especially with gas and food prices still seeing monthly hikes. Despite worries over rising prices, shoppers plan to spend, on the whole, as much as they did last year ($868 per person vs. $870 in 2021).
The difference comes when we look at average budgets for low- and high-income shoppers. Those who earn less than $50,000 plan to spend significantly less, with a total budget of $600 – 30.9% lower than the average holiday budget. These consumers are also cutting back from last year – spending 17.1% less than they did in 2021. In contrast, shoppers with household incomes greater than $50,000 plan to spend more than average, particularly the extremely high earners (those earning more than $200,000) who plan to spend more than twice as much as the average ($1,878) and 9.7% more than they did last year.
Shoppers plan to spend roughly the same as last year
To counter rising prices, consumers plan to use a variety of cost-saving methods. Slightly more than half of holiday shoppers will look for sales, while roughly one-third will take advantage of deal days specifically to fight inflation. Nearly 30% will buy less expensive gifts, while 23.1% will buy for fewer people. Only 13.7% plan to forego buying something for themselves because of inflation. After all, many shoppers use deal days to nab deals on high-ticket items for themselves, like electronics, appliances and home furnishings.
2. Holiday shoppers respond to the lure of the store
In-store shopping has experienced something of a renaissance this year, beating online ordering for the top shopping method. After two years of dealing with the pandemic by staying close to home, consumers are ready to get back to shopping in stores. Over 63% of our survey respondents plan to do at least some of their shopping in-store this year – up from 58% last year.
In-store shopping wins with consumers
The number one reason consumers reported for shopping in-store was being able to see and touch the products before buying. More than half of shoppers consider this a major benefit. The holiday ambiance (décor, scents, etc.) ranked second with 36.9% of shoppers citing it as a benefit to in-person shopping. Roughly one-third of shoppers simply do not want to pay shipping costs. Nearly one-quarter like to enjoy the shopping experience with friends and family and 20.7% of shoppers want the help of expert sales reps. Interestingly, more than twice as many men as women cited expert sales advice as a benefit to in-store shopping.
Ordering online – either from a pure-play online retailer or physical retailer – dipped from last year, with fewer consumers planning to shop this way. BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) has been growing steadily in popularity since 2019, and saw a solid 4.1 percentage-point gain from last year, while curbside pick-up inched up slightly.
3. Shoppers want to savor experiences
Over the past several months, we’ve seen consumers focusing more on experiences – social gathering, entertainment and dining out. This holiday season, the trend will continue as consumers head to restaurants, movie theaters and holiday destinations.
Many consumers plan to enjoy more experiences this holiday season
When surveyed about which activities they would do more of this year, one-third of shoppers plan to dine out more, while more than one-quarter plan to enjoy more entertainment activities like eatertainment or going to a bar. Shoppers also plan to attend large gatherings (10 or more people) this holiday, as well as go to the movies and travel.