Holiday Gifting Report 2020: Consumer Sentiment & New Buying Behaviors

Our latest guide features recent research that shows how consumers are planning to do their holiday shopping in the midst of an exceptional year.
Updated on September 26, 2023

2020 has been anything but ordinary, but recent Criteo research shows that many holiday shoppers are still ready to buy gifts for everyone on their list. We surveyed over 20,000 consumers globally, including 1,500 in the US, to learn how they’re thinking and feeling about the holidays in the midst of an exceptional year.

Our latest mini-guide features recent holiday shopping statistics that show how consumers across every generation and income level are looking forward to purchasing this holiday season, which product categories are likely to see substantial gains, and why deals and discounts may not be enough to convert holiday buyers in a year that will include more competitive promotions than ever.

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Here are four takeaways from the research:

1. Holiday shoppers are planning to buy more online this year than they did in 2019.

Four in 10 American shoppers plan to buy more products online in the next few months, including toys and gaming items, cultural goods, consumer electronics, apparel/accessories, and luxury brands, than they did during the same period last year. At the same time, about one-third (34%) of US shoppers say they’ll plan to do more in-store purchases of household products, groceries, and/or beer/wine/spirits.

holiday shopping statistics 2020

Criteo data from over 1,600 US retailers shows that online transactions are up 19% year over year in the month of August, indicating that shoppers are increasingly turning to ecommerce to find and buy the products they need.

Download our free holiday gifting report here to learn how consumers are planning to buy this holiday season—and how to prepare your business.

2. Gift searches start early, both online and in-store.

Over half (53%) of Americans plan to start searching for gifts by October, and 47% say they’ll start purchasing before November. While the vast majority say they’ll start their gift searches online (71%) and plan to purchase from ecommerce sites and apps (86%), nearly half of the Boomers and Silent generation (46%) say they’ll start looking for presents in physical stores.

holiday shopping statistics 2020

Criteo data from omnichannel retailers shows that last year, in-store transactions more than doubled just before Christmas, increasing by up to 124% compared to the average in October 2019. For holiday season 2020, retail stores may be open or closed, but the offline experience can still play a crucial role in the holiday customer journey, especially for certain age groups and last-minute shoppers.

3. Early discounts are expected to drive sales ahead of Black Friday.

American shoppers are now even more price sensitive, and about six in 10 say that they won’t wait until Black Friday to buy presents if they get early discounts from their favorite retailers. This means if Amazon Prime Day happens on October 5th, as many consumers are anticipating, other retailers that offer promotions stand to benefit substantially from the halo effect and the appetite from early bird deal hunters.

holiday shopping statistics 2020

Our research shows that in the US, 44% of American consumers are aware of the potential new Amazon Prime Day date, and 73% of Amazon Prime Day members plan to spend some of the money that they usually spend during Black Friday on Amazon Prime Day instead.

4. Shipping costs will also have a big influence on holiday gift purchases.

At least one-third (35%) of US shoppers mentioned shipping as one of the most important factors when buying online. Shipping cost is also the top reason influencing American shoppers to buy at a specific online retailer this year.

holiday shopping statistics 2020

In 2020, holiday shoppers will be motivated by bundled incentives, like solid discounts and reliable shipping. Customers across all generations are looking for fast and free delivery. This can be the key that makes you stand out from your competitors when a consumer is wondering whether or not to buy a similar product on a different website or app.

Giving 2020 Holiday Shoppers the Experience They Need in a New Normal

As the acceleration of ecommerce has pushed members of every generation to become more comfortable shopping online, for holiday season 2020, shoppers expectations go far beyond seasonal promotions. The new normal demands an efficient, dependable experience that spans from ecommerce to in-store, and from product discovery through purchase and delivery.

By providing frictionless customer journeys—from an easy-to-use website and app, to free delivery and easy returns—businesses can give their holiday customers what they truly want: a safe and joyful holiday season.

For more data, check out our Seasonal Sales Dashboard and the Criteo Holiday Product Finder. Access Criteo’s latest consumer research by downloading the guide:

Michelle Pruett

As Global Head of Content at Criteo, Michelle leads a high-performing, multi-disciplinary team of marketers packaging insights, copy, design, and video into integrated campaigns. Her own writing has been featured in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, AdWeek, eMarketer, and more. Before joining the ...

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