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Holiday shopping update: Economic anxieties could make for a challenging season for retailers, who must focus on price and CX

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Public Relations

There’s no lack of holiday excitement this year—and that includes buying gifts—but as the huge holiday-shopping weekend approaches, brands and retailers need to be aware that the rattles of inflation are still driving many consumer decisions this season, and they must be prepared to meet their unique needs, affirms new research from expert services and advisory firm Ankura Consulting. Besides much-sought discounts and deals, several other unique factors are poised to impact success.

The firm’s 2023 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, conducted by its Performance Improvement Practice among over 1,000 consumers, analyzes sentiment on the economy, personal finances, and spending this holiday season. Consumers definitely remain inflation weary and will be more flexible on things like same or next day delivery—which has been in premium demand the last few years—as they are willing to compromise expediency for the cheapest options available.

Holiday shopping update: Economic anxieties could make for a challenging season for retailers, who must focus on price and CX

“With so much uncertainty about the economy right now, U.S. consumers are reluctant to open their wallets this holiday season to spend on traditional gift giving,” said Keith Jelinek, senior managing director in Ankura’s Performance Improvement Practice, in a news release. “Our survey shows that the shopping journey is not ‘one-size-fits-all’—the decision on when, where, and how to shop will vary based on age, income, and other factors. Retailers must be nimble and strategic in addressing these different needs among their customers.”

Holiday shopping update: Economic anxieties could make for a challenging season for retailers, who must focus on price and CX

The research revealed several key consumer factors retailers should consider:

  • Consumers remain inflation weary.
  • Retailers will need to appeal to multiple generations this season.
  • Retailers should be aware of key demographic divisions this year.
  • Online shopping will continue to be prevalent during this holiday season, but in-store shopping remains critical, especially to certain shopper segments.
  • Retailers should recognize the varied importance of technology this season and consider this in their marketing plans, both in stores and digitally.
  • Gift cards will remain popular and should be showcased online and in-store.

Holiday shopping update: Economic anxieties could make for a challenging season for retailers, who must focus on price and CX

“Our research shows that shoppers enter this holiday season with different attitudes and needs,” said Rick Maicki, senior managing director in Ankura’s Performance Improvement Practice, in the release. “For example, consumers do not require same and next day delivery as a key conversion driver. Instead, they are willing to compromise to obtain ‘the cheapest option’ available. Retailers should consider increasing purchase minimums to obtain ‘free’ shipping.”

Holiday shopping update: Economic anxieties could make for a challenging season for retailers, who must focus on price and CX

However, “Despite the strong appeal and benefits of online shopping and even curbside pickup, consumers still enjoy visiting malls and physical stores. In fact, ‘the experience’ ranked at the top of why consumers come to stores. They appreciate guidance with purchase decisions and the ease of in-store returns. Hiring up and training store associates to deliver on these expectations is critical for success this season,” said Tom Clarke, senior managing director in Ankura’s Performance Improvement Practice.

Read the full report here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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