PwC Holiday Report

Cautious optimism and digitally enabled convenience are the key consumer definers of the holiday shopping season, according to PwC’s 2019 holiday outlook, released today.

Despite uncertainty and looming economic concerns on the geopolitical front, 86 percent of consumers told PwC they expect to spend as much or more this holiday season as they did last year (an average of $1,284). However, the outlook comes with a caveat.

“High-profile job losses or even a small uptick in the unemployment rate might be enough to cause consumers to pull back on spending,” PwC said. The silver lining is that an uncertain outlook goes both ways. “A reduction in tariff rates, particularly those aimed at consumer goods could be enough to support consumer spending and avoid recession for a while longer,” authors of the report noted.

Similar to findings in other reports published by WWD, this research finds some shoppers have already begun spending for holiday. And a small percentage began shopping for holiday items in July. Prime Day — described as a digital convenience event — was a factor with 2 percent of respondents stating they had already completed gift purchases by the middle of July.

But digitally enabled convenience means different things to different people.

“Ultimately, what consumers want is overall control of their shopping trips,” PwC researchers said in the report. Digital enablement is, therefore, best for both the retailer as well as the shopper, as it has allowed brands the ability for consolidation and integration of customer data, inventory, payment and logistics. When retailers engage this enablement, customers see a higher level of convenience.

Meanwhile, an increase in the resale market is also due in part to technology that has the ability to connect buyers and sellers much more conveniently. A vast majority (75 percent) of consumers report they have sustainability in mind when holiday shopping. Of Millennials, 36 percent say they plan to seek out resale items for themselves and others.

Not to be dismissed, in-store shopping is still valued. “Millennials, metro residents and Amazon Prime members all crave experiential retail, most likely because they’re used to shopping online and want more than a transaction when they make the effort to go to a store,” PwC said.

Stores such as Lululemon, Apple, Crate & Barrel, Ikea and RH are examples of success in creating and fostering a sense of community and trust with consumers, according to PwC. Sixty-nine percent of all consumers value trustworthy brands above all else when asked influence factors.

Wellness brands have also become imperative, with almost 40 percent of Millennials reporting being drawn to the segment. “They favor authentic, innovative brands that offer a platform for connection to others within the same community of runners or yoga buffs or clean beauty product enthusiasts,” PwC said. “Some are even willing to pay for the privilege.”

For Business News from WWD: 

Holiday Retail Expects Sales to Climb and E-commerce to Soar

Holiday 2019: Retailers Sense Consumers Won’t Disappoint Them

Survey Shows Consumer’s Economic Optimism Will Increase Holiday Spending

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