Once the most wonderful time of the year for retailers, in recent years consumers have started shopping earlier and earlier — a consumer behavior that escalated even further due to the pandemic’s impacts.
According to new findings from Deloitte’s pre-Thanksgiving pulse survey, 70 percent of shoppers said they started holiday shopping by the last week in October. As previously reported by WWD, this early shopping has been fueled by consumers’ worry about ongoing supply chain disruptions. And early shoppers have been validated in their fear, with 63 percent of shoppers from Deloitte’s survey saying they have already experienced stockouts.
Still, findings in the survey show the Thanksgiving period is still very much a driving force. In fact, based on its findings, the company predicts holiday sales will see an average spend increase of 12 percent year-over-year being boosted by middle-income households who said they are looking to take advantage of deals.
Notably, 70 percent of consumers surveyed said they expect to shop during the Thanksgiving period. Additionally, 51 percent of Thanksgiving shoppers’ budgets are likely to be spent during the Thanksgiving period.
At the same time, enthusiasm for shopping in-store during the Thanksgiving weekend is present, however, consumer behaviors are persisting as shoppers continue to rely on the convenience of digital formats and Deloitte predicts a majority of total spend during the holiday season will occur online. And 72 percent of consumers said they support the decision of several retailers to keep physical stores closed on Thanksgiving day.
This digital convenience extends to dealing with stockouts for consumers with 40 percent of survey respondents reporting they had stayed with the same retailer, purchasing an item online, finding a different item or returning to the store later, when coming across a stockout in-store. However, 34 percent said they went online to find the item from competitors and 22 percent said they went to a competitor’s physical store when they had experienced a stock-out in-store.
Data in the company’s survey shows in-store traffic for Black Friday will see an average spend of $135, compared to $124 in 2020. And a third of survey respondents said they are now planning to spend more compared to initial holiday budgets from September. Of those planning to spend more, 41 percent cited that it was as a result of seeing higher prices this year. In fact, when asked, 54 percent of early shoppers reported they had experienced higher prices this year.
What are they spending more on? A huge 92 percent of consumers said they expect to spend more on gifts and gift cards, while 42 percent said they will budget more for non-gift purchases and 55 percent plan to spend more on experiences and entertainment.
Of the 30 percent of consumers who said they have not yet started their holiday shopping, 78 percent said they expect prices to be higher this Thanksgiving period compared to this time in 2020. When it comes to discounts in comparison to last year, 37 percent of consumers said retailers are discounting less, 54 percent said retailers are providing similar discounts and 9 percent said retailers are discounting more.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this increase in budget is causing many consumers to rely on credit cards and buy now, pay later (BNPL) options. Looking at younger generations in particular, 46 percent of Millennials and 40 percent of Gen Z said they will rely on credit cards, while 48 percent of Millennials and 40 percent of Gen Z said they will utilize BNPL.
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