The holiday shopping season is upon us, and while COVID-19’s grip on consumer comfort looks considerably different from last year, it’s clear this year will still be tainted by the lasting effects of the pandemic.
That’s according to new data pulled from Morning Consult’s new holiday tracker, which will deliver weekly data and insights as consumers’ plans coalesce and shift with changing pandemic conditions. Here’s what you need to know.
As the supply chain crisis continues to draw headlines, many consumers are nudging up their shopping plans. But most haven’t started looking
Given the supply chain issues that many Americans are already experiencing, and with more difficulties expected, retailers are trying to lure consumers now with early holiday promotions — a tactic that drew mixed results in 2020.
The good news is that some respondents are — slightly — moving up their shopping plans from late to early November, helping those retailers looking to avoid customers’ frustration with inevitable shipping delays.
But most (57 percent) haven’t started their holiday shopping — nearly identical to the share who said the same last year at this time.
Respondents who have not yet begun their holiday shopping were asked when they plan to start
Americans are planning fewer, smaller holiday celebrations than usual
At this point in the holiday season, most do not plan to go fully virtual in their family celebrations, but many are planning to go smaller: According to Morning Consult’s latest holiday data, 47 percent of Americans are changing their holiday plans because of the pandemic, a far more optimistic number than the 65 percent who said the same this time last year. But most of the public plans to at least cut back on large gatherings, with 64 percent saying they plan to limit their attendance at events and celebrations.
Brands should be cognizant of smaller gathering sizes and prioritize images and messaging that reflect more intimate gatherings with close family and friends.
Respondents were asked how their holiday traditions might change this year
More will go online for holiday gifts, but this year it’s more for convenience than safety
The relative dearth of large gatherings we can expect to see this holiday season could further inflame supply-chain issues: 48 percent of consumers plan to rely more on those services to exchange gifts than they have in years past, adding to already stressed networks.
As retailers attempt to hire seasonal staff in this tight labor market, a big part of their planning is built on assumptions about where consumers will do their shopping.
Respondents were asked why they plan to shop more online than in stores this year
Last year, 46 percent of consumers who shifted their holiday shopping online indicated that they did so due to pandemic safety concerns. This year, the numbers are similar, but the rationale is different: A plurality (42 percent) still plan to do the majority of their shopping online, but for the bulk of those consumers, it’s for the sake of convenience — not safety.
The pandemic pushed many shoppers to take advantage of long-established online ordering and store pickup options, behavior that will turn into habit as health and safety concerns diminish. These features will become table-stakes offerings, pushing retailers to further differentiate on their ability to reduce friction for consumers.