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Despite an ongoing pandemic, the New Year might just be enough to reignite optimism in the American consumer.

According to Engine Insights’ consumer survey, which was conducted Jan. 8 to 10, 71 percent of consumers are optimistic that the year 2021 will be better than last year. To better understand the consumer behaviors that are likely to follow this sentiment, the company asked consumers about goals and priorities they would be putting into place in the new year both daily and long-term.

Concerning financial matters, consumers overall said they would look for ways to save and be more financially savvy with the top focus areas being saving money by preparing more meals at home rather than dining out, paying down credit card debt at a faster rate, exploring ways to improve your credit score and learning about investment options. Notably, only 10 percent of consumers said they would spoil themselves with a large purchase they would not otherwise make.

Further, respondents said goals they would set for themselves as a consumer would be to purchase more products made in the U.S.; make more purchases from small, local businesses; purchase fewer products made outside of the U.S., and Purchase more environmentally friendly products.

“There is a renewed commitment by many to creating a stronger America, starting with the choices made at retail,” said Lisa Marie Fortier, senior vice president at Engine Insights. “While many are still being conservative with spending and many of the triggers — back to school, dressing for the office, social celebrations — are still fewer. As spending resumes, we will see a desire to support small businesses and those products made in the U.S. Not only is there an indication of helping to bolster our economy and support those businesses doing the same, but there’s also a desire to better the environment and the society we live in.

At the same time, the survey served to indicate a slight move away from entertainment and media behaviors that brands rely on as a way to stay connected to consumers and the market. In fact, 30 percent of respondents said they aim to spend less time on social media platforms and another 30 percent said they will work to spend less time on mobile devices. “This may mean an evaluation of channels used for connection as well as the format and content of the messaging,” Fortier said.

Notably, and maybe a bit surprisingly, Fortier said were the many setting goals to be more involved, volunteering with charitable organizations and social causes, “supporting the local community and making an effort to understand others and become more sensitive and accepting of those that may be different from ourselves.”

“We are in a time where consumers increasingly expect the brands they engage with to do the same,” Fortier said. “While this has been an emerging trend in the past few years, it could have greater importance as we emerge from the myriad of challenges in 2020.”

Also, surprising was an indication that a “significant minority” would like to step away from online shopping. “In reality, this shouldn’t be surprising as while it offers great convenience and safety now, it also further isolates and reminds us of how what once was taken for granted has changed dramatically — something many will look to remedy even if only through a trip to the store they may not have been to in nearly a year,” Fortier said.

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