7 Things to Know About Holiday Shopper Habits

As the calendar flips to November, the holidays are quickly approaching. And, while this year has been anything but ordinary, the fact of the matter is that almost nine in ten consumers will still be celebrating in spite of the pandemic. As brands and retailers seek to win over those consumers as they shop for gifts, it’s important to understand how their behavior will differ from past years. Below, we take a look at seven things you need to know regarding shopper habits for this holiday season.


Holiday shopping habits are set to change in 2020


1. In terms of the money being spent on the holidays this year, the National Retail Federation predicts that consumers will be spending an average of $998 on holiday related purchases — a number that is largely in line with previous years. However, while spending on gifts and non-gift holiday items (food, decorations, etc.) is projected to remain stable, NRF does anticipate a decline in discretionary purchases by shoppers as they operate on a budget during the pandemic.

2. What are other ways that the current health and economic crisis will impact this holiday season? Overall, 70% of respondents to a Shopkick survey said they plan to shop online more in order to avoid crowds and unnecessary exposure to health risks. This shift towards ecommerce for the holidays is merely a continuation of how consumers have adapted throughout the pandemic, but is notable for brands, nonetheless. When it comes to incentives for online shopping, over half of shoppers say nothing beats free shipping.

3. Though online shopping is up, the reality is that 71% of shoppers plan to do holiday shopping both online and in stores. For the in-store shoppers, though, there are still expectations that retailers make every effort to keep them safe. On top of the three quarters of shoppers who expect mask mandates in stores, 70% want to see enforcement of social distancing measures, 66% want readily available disinfectants for customers, and 60% want plexiglass barriers installed at checkout counters.

4. What steps will consumers take themselves in order to shop safely? Three in five say they will shop on quieter days at less busy times, while over half of shoppers will shorten shopping trips or reduce the amount of stores visited. For those retailers not holding up their end of the bargain in terms of safety procedures, 41% of shoppers will choose another destination.

5. Of course, this is no normal year, so it stands to reason that gift giving might look a bit different in 2020, too. Forty-six percent of consumers say that their gift giving mindset has changed this year. How will that manifest in terms of consumer behavior? Around a third say they plan to give smaller, less expensive gifts this year, while another third plans to give fewer gifts in total.

6. When asked what categories they expect to spend most on for holiday gifts, apparel took the top spot (25%), followed by toys & video games (21%), electronics (21%), and home items (13%). On the other side of the coin, NRF asked consumers which categories they want gifts from, gift cards were the most popular choice. In a year where money is tighter for many shoppers across the country, the flexibility of a gift card is hard to beat.

7. Of course, the holiday season isn’t just about shopping. It also is a time of year when consumers’ altruistic sides shine through and people give back. In 2020, that sentiment remains true. Over 80% of shoppers plan to give back in one way or another, whether that’s donating new or gently used items (56%), donating financially (36%), purchasing from retailers that support social causes (27%), or volunteering time (21%).


Is your brand looking to connect with shoppers this holiday season? Contact us today to learn how our integrated brand experiences can help you build awareness, encourage trial, and earn lifelong loyalists.




Sources: “Retail Holiday and Seasonal Trends: Winter Holidays.” National Retail Federation (2020), “Holiday 2020 Insights: Consumers Will Turn Online to Holiday Shop During the Pandemic.” Shopkick (2020).

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