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Where — and How Much — Consumers Plan to Shop This Holiday Season
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Financial strain, global supply chain disruptions and labor and inventory shortages might make it harder for consumers to check off items on their holiday gift lists this season. But that doesn’t seem to be stopping shoppers from dropping cash this holiday season.
This portion of the survey from Deloitte, an accounting and consulting firm based in New York, reveals holiday shoppers plan to spend 62% of their expected holiday budget online, at an average of $924. They’ll spend 33% of their expected budget in stores, at an average of $440.
Consumers continue to lean on digital shopping platforms
U.S. consumers leaned toward online retailers and doorstep delivery for their shopping needs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trend is expected to continue this holiday season, though at a slightly smaller clip.
While consumers expect to spend 62% of their holiday budget online, that’s a slight dip from 64% last season. In-person shopping, meanwhile, is expected to see a 5 percentage point jump, from 28% in 2020 to 33% in 2021.
So where exactly are consumers dropping cash for gifts this holiday season? Many respondents plan on shopping at mass merchants, online-only retailers and local independent stores, while dollar stores and outlet stores or centers will get the least action. Here’s the breakdown:
|At which of the following types of retailers will you likely shop for holiday gifts?|
|Type of retailer||2021||2020|
|Local independent stores||27%||26%|
|Traditional department stores||26%||26%|
|Warehouse membership clubs||24%||23%|
|Electronics, office supply and computer stores||21%||22%|
|Specialty beauty stores||19%||21%|
|Supermarkets or grocery stores||19%||26%|
|Home improvement stores||18%||21%|
|Pet products stores||17%||17%|
|Specialty arts and crafts retailer||15%||16%|
|Specialty clothing stores||14%||26%|
|Outlet stores or centers||14%||16%|
More consumers returning to stores, but anxiety remains
As some pandemic-related anxiety eases, consumers are returning to stores — but not quite at the same frequency as pre-crisis levels.
This year, shoppers plan on visiting an average of 6.6 brick-and-mortar stores to buy gifts over the next several months, down from 7.0 in 2019 but up from 5.2 last year. But 40% still are anxious about shopping in-store due to coronavirus concerns, a high number despite being down from 51% a year prior.
Despite this return to in-store shopping, it’s a mixed bag regarding delivery services. Reliance on standard delivery is the preferred method (73%), followed by same-day or next-day delivery from a retailer (47%), in-store pickup on online orders (33%) and curbside pickup (21%).
3 categories of shoppers: Hopeful, prepared and conscious
Deloitte split survey respondents into three main consumer profiles:
- Hopeful (not as financially strong as the other consumer groups, but they’re hopeful about economic prospects; shops later in the season and for a shorter duration)
- Prepared (might have more money in their pockets, but they have greater skepticism about the state of the economy; not as nervous about shopping in-store and wants to get an early start)
- Conscious (both financially sound and optimistic about the economy; social media and sustainability influence spending choices)
|Key details on shopper types|
|Type||% of shoppers||Average expected spend|
To make this year’s holiday shopping adventures as painless as possible, consider clustering gifts you need to buy according to the retailer or method of delivery. That way, you can make fewer purchases and take advantage of free shipping when available.
If you’re minding your budget and want to avoid debt, try to spread out your shopping across a few months and scoop up deals, sales and discounts whenever possible. Consider tapping into cashback rewards on your credit cards to lower what you pay out of pocket for gifts.
Methodology: Deloitte commissioned a survey of 4,315 U.S. consumers, fielded Sept. 7-14, 2021. Our reporting focused solely on the consumer behavior portion of Deloitte’s survey.