As brand marketers anxiously bite their nails fretting over the 2021 holiday shopping forecast, new large-scale research from PowerReviews sheds new light on consumers’ plans for this critical season—and contrasts this year’s consumer sentiment with its survey results from 1 year ago.
The firm’s newly released 2021 Holiday Consumer Survey, based on responses from 7,743 consumers across the United States, reveals that while nearly half (48 percent) of consumers say they plan to spend the same amount during the upcoming holiday season as they did last year, a third (34 percent) plan to increase their spending this year (by 48 percent, on average).
Younger consumers are more likely to say they plan to increase their holiday spending, and 58 percent of Gen Z shoppers and 39 percent of Millennials will increase the amount they spend this holiday season, compared to 29 percent of Gen Xers and 24 percent of Boomers. Just 18 percent plan to decrease their overall holiday spending this year (by 28 percent, on average).
Online shopping will once again take center stage …
Nearly all (99 percent) consumers will do at least a portion of their holiday shopping online this year: 50 percent will do most of their holiday shopping online, 13 percent will do all of it online, and 41 percent of consumers plan to do more holiday shopping online this year than last.
… But many will still shop in-store and use curbside pickup
More than a third (37 percent) of consumers plan to do half or more of their holiday shopping in-store, and two-thirds (67 percent) will do the same amount or more in-store shopping this holiday season, compared to last year.
Over half (53 percent) are still concerned about shopping in-store due to COVID. However, certain measures such as mask requirements for shoppers, mask requirements for associates, frequent sterilization, and the ability to buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS, also known as curbside pickup) would increase the comfort level of many.
Just over half (51 percent) of shoppers will use curbside pickup as frequently as they did last holiday season. A third (33 percent) will use it more this holiday shopping season.
The wisdom of crowds will influence holiday purchase decisions
As expected, price is the factor that will have the biggest influence on what consumers purchase during the holidays.
Ratings and reviews are the second most impactful factor: 71 percent of consumers say that reading reviews impacts what gifts they purchase for others, and 68 percent indicate this content impacts what they buy for themselves during the holidays.
Overall, 35 percent of shoppers indicate ratings and reviews will have a bigger influence on their holiday purchases this year, compared to last. This number is significantly higher (55 percent) among Gen Z shoppers.
COVID has shifted holiday shopping patterns
About a third of consumers (32 percent) indicate that their shopping habits have changed forever as a result of COVID. Namely, 34 percent say they’re more comfortable shopping online than they were pre-COVID, and 26 percent don’t think they’ll ever store in-store as much as they did before the pandemic.
However, just over a third (34 percent) say that COVID hasn’t had an effect on their shopping habits—and they don’t anticipate that changing.