Deloitte: Consumers Shift Where They Holiday Shop, Not When

The annual Deloitte Holiday Retail Survey addresses a market radically reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic but one where consumers are still determined to shop.

Although it won’t surprise with the conclusion that shoppers are shifting purchasing away from travel or that they are anxious about entering crowded stores, the consumer survey suggested that consumers won’t start shopping earlier in 2020 than they did the year before despite retail expectations. Deloitte concluded that 69% of consumers will start shopping before Thanksgiving and 39% after, with the early birds spending almost $400 more in the holiday season than the $1,149 the tardy plan to spend.

The findings include:

  • New shopping behaviors favor efficiency. The average shopping window is likely to be 1.5 weeks shorter this year than last with shoppers overall starting at pretty much the same time as they did in 2019.
  • Coronavirus–related anxiety will prompt cautious spending. Shoppers expect to spend $1,387 per household during the holiday season this year, down 7% from the holiday season in 2019, with 38% of consumers planning to purchase less year over year because of concerns around economic instability.
  • Budgets once including cash for travel have been recast to support celebrating at home. Consumers expect to spend 34% less on travel but more on non-gift items such as home furnishings and seasonal décor, which should enjoy a 12% purchase advantage year over year.
  • Consumers will avoid crowds and seek out contactless solutions. Just over half of holiday shoppers feel anxious about spending time in stores so it isn’t surprising that 73% plan to have items delivered versus 62% in the 2019 celebratory season, even as preference for curbside pickup has more than doubled year over year.

Retailers who can provide contactless purchasing lead as preferred holiday shopping destinations with online retailers tops at 62% and mass merchants following at 50%.

When it comes to delivery, 85% prefer free shipping with only 15% saying they really want faster shipping, Deloitte noted.