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Holiday Surveys Find Shoppers Will Spend More Online, Earlier

Let's clear up some holiday shopper uncertainty.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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The customer mood board your team papier-mâchéd in 2011 is probably outdated.

So I gathered the latest data on who’s actually shopping this holiday season and how. I think you’d like to meet them.

Identity breakdown

Who they are: Not Gen Z and millennials, to retailers’ disappointment. This holiday season, those covetable generations are duct taping their wallets shut.

  • In a Bloomberg/Harris Poll survey, more than 60% of both 18–34 year-olds and 35–44 year-olds said they have less to spend on the holidays this year.
  • The youngest among us are also the thriftiest: Teen spending hit an all-time low in H1 2020, declining 9% YoY per Piper Sandler’s annual teen survey.

Gift bundles or tiered discounts may persuade young shoppers to spend anyway. In the Bloomberg/Harris Poll report, younger Americans were around three times as likely as their elders to view gift giving as important this year, in spite of *gestures broadly*.

When they’re shopping: Not when holiday calendar purists want them to, ShopperTrak reports. The ten biggest discount days will only make up 34.2% of all in-store holiday traffic, compared to 46.5% last year.

Where they’re shopping: Anywhere there’s a wi-fi connection. Nearly 50% of Americans surveyed by Bloomberg/Harris Poll said they’ll purchase gifts mostly or entirely online.

How they feel: Updates from the campaign trail are destroying 1) push notifications and 2) gifting habits of yore.

Nearly seven in ten respondents surveyed by Bloomberg/Harris Poll said they’re feeling uncertain about the economy in the election lead-up; of those potential shoppers, 50% said they’re spending conservatively (in the budgeting sense) as a result.

Bottom line: Analysts had already predicted holiday growth would slow for retailers during their all-important quarter. Decreased enthusiasm from shoppers means brands should prepare for a slower holiday season—or work on their marketing skills.

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