How Consumers will Shop this Holiday and Festive Season: Global Survey Insights

Findings from our latest global consumer survey, where we asked shoppers about their plans for the upcoming holiday and festive season.

Every month, we survey thousands of consumers across the world to get a pulse on their shopping habits. In September, we included a special block of questions to understand shoppers’ plans for the upcoming holiday and festive season.

Here’s what marketers need to know:

Consumers are saving money and shrinking their gifting circle to make the most of the season

Economic pressures are making this a more challenging festive season, with 52% of global respondents saying that budget will be an issue this year. To counteract that, 49% of global shoppers say they are saving money in order to pay for holiday expenses and plan to spend on a smaller group of people. Close family will receive gifts, but even friends might be off the list this year, with slightly less than half (47%) saying they will offer gifts to this group. Just 9% plan to buy presents for helpers, such as a nannies. More than three quarters (77%) are also likely to look for discounts/promos to use for purchasing holiday gifts, across all age groups.

opinions about holiday spending - global

Younger generations are more likely to spend more both online and in store

More than half of Gen Zs (55%) and 52% of Millennials globally say they plan to spend more online this year versus last year. A similar percentage (52% and 46%, respectively), say the same for in-store shopping. These age groups are the most likely to have young children and more purchasing power, so it makes sense that they would plan to spend more than Gen X or Boomers.

how much will you spend online versus last year - by age group

By contrast, only 29% of Boomers said they will spend more online and nearly a quarter (24%) plan to spend less this year. This also makes sense, as economic pressures are felt more keenly by this age group, many of whom are living on a fixed income.

In the US, UK, and AU, gift searches will begin in stores and on retail websites and apps more often than on Google

In the US and Australia, the number one place shoppers will start looking for presents is physical stores, followed closely by retail websites and apps. In the UK, retail websites and apps are the leading destination, followed by physical stores.

where shoppers will start looking for holiday presents - US

The global aggregate shows that physical stores are still tops, with 41% saying they will start their search there. Search engines hold the number two position, at 38%. Retail websites/apps round out the top three places to start looking for presents, with 31% saying they begin their searches there.

where shoppers will start looking for presents - Global

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In the US, saving gas will be a major reason to shop online this season

Though gas prices have been declining the last few months, they are set to rise again and more than four in 10 US shoppers said they planned to shop online because it saves gas. The US is the only country in the survey where this response was in the top three.

why consumers will shop online this holiday - US

For the rest of the world, the top reasons to shop online this season included: “It saves time” (56%), “I find things online I wouldn’t be able to find in stores” (45%), and “I expect to find better deals online” (43%).

Shoppers will flock to physical stores for the feels

For consumers, both the tactile and emotional experience of brick-and-mortar stores are key reasons to shop in person. More than half of global respondents said they like being able to see and touch the presents and 43% said they enjoy the experience of visiting stores during the holiday season. The same percentage also opt to shop in physical stores because they get good ideas in the store.

why consumers will shop for presents in physical stores - Global

Two thirds of the world’s shoppers have already started holiday shopping

Festive season procrastinators are officially in the minority, with 58% of shoppers worldwide saying they thought about holiday gifts in September. Our global attention on holiday gifting began ticking upwards starting in July.

percentage of shoppers who already thought about holiday gifts by month - Global

When broken down by age group, it’s interesting to note that at any time during the year, around half of Gen Z and Millennials are thinking about holiday gifts. This means that they always have an eye out for something that might be a good holiday gift.

already thought about holiday gifts - by age group

Is the earlier start to shopping why Amazon announced their Prime Early Access Sale?

Shoppers told us they’re thinking about holiday gifts now and the last few years have shown that the Black Friday spike is softening as sales rise throughout the entire month of November. Amazon’s newest event, dubbed the Prime Early Access Sale, is the latest in a growing list of retailer events during October and November (like Target Deal Days and Walmart Deals for Days in the US, and Click Frenzy in Australia). It’s further proof that the world’s retailers should be focusing on the run up to Black Friday, rather than just Black Friday itself.

Though this is a new event and data is still forthcoming, there is a precedent we can look to: Amazon’s fall Prime Day in October 2020. The main learning from that event is that no matter when Amazon holds their Prime Day, brands that piggyback on it with their own promotions enjoy a significant halo effect.

Takeaways for marketers

  • Focus campaigns on in-market audiences. Consumers are planning to do what they can to make the most of this holiday season, despite the challenges. Who they buy for and what they purchase might be different this year, but with focused campaigns, you can ensure you’re reaching only the people who are actively looking for gifts. You’ll spend your budget wisely, and help consumers do the same.
  • Build campaigns and promotions that will appeal to Gen Z and Millennials, who are starting the earliest and plan to spend the most this holiday season.
  • Give the digital shelf the same attention as your physical shelves, since retail websites and apps are a primary place consumers search for gifts. 90% of online purchases come from the first page of product results, so ensure your products are being seen with a retail media campaign.
  • Reach your in-store shoppers online with campaigns that drive them back to your store. Close the loop from online discovery to in-store purchase and make it easy for consumers to buy where they prefer.
  • Launch always-on campaigns to reach consumers whenever they show interest (like those 50% of Gen Z and Millennials that are thinking about holiday gifts all year long!)
  • Embrace Cyber Month, take the lead from other retailers, and create your own promotional moments before Black Friday. Piggyback on major events like the Prime Early Access sale and bask in the glow.
Ann Pyle

Ann revels in finding the simplest and clearest way to convey a thought. Her favorite word is 'moxie', which she tries to embody whenever possible. She's been developing content strategies and writing for the tech and B2B space for more than a decade. This, along with her SEO and advertising agency ...

Senior Manager Global Content

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