The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly turned everyday shopping on its head, a phenomenon that is increasingly impacting the 2020 holiday season. Still, according to Deloitte, which has been tracking the holiday shopping period for 35 years, what remains consistent is consumer considerations for price, value, convenience, and the desire to create a special season for friends, family and pets.
As consumers cut back on travel and other holiday experiences, “home for the holidays” will take on new meaning, according to Deloitte, as consumers make adjustments to budgets. The budget focus will be seen in nongift categories including home, holiday furnishings and nongift apparel.
“In this season of uncertainty, price, value and convenience continue to be top considerations for consumers, as is the desire to get creative with how they celebrate the season with family, friends and pets, no matter the circumstances,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman at Deloitte LLP, and U.S. retail, wholesale, and distribution leader. “As travel spend declines, retailers will likely benefit and should receive a higher percentage of total holiday spend. The key for retailers is to stay flexible and offer options that appeal to consumers’ changing behaviors and address their evolving needs. Those that do will likely be better positioned for a bright holiday season.”
As previously reported by WWD, quarantine served as a catalyst for shopping behaviors of pet owners who have been spending more time at home with furry loved ones. In fact, during the pandemic, the humanization of pets has driven innovation and several companies expanded into dog and apparel accessories. According to Deloitte’s new data, this trend is expected to continue this holiday season with 50 percent of the consumers surveyed saying the plan to spend on pets this year with an average spend of $90 for pet food and supplies.
Notably, the company said COVID-19 has served as motivation for many families to add a pet to the household. Pet stores were the most preferred retailer for pet purchases followed by online merchants and mass merchants.
Similarly, consumers said they are planning to spend on themselves this holiday season with 45 percent reporting they will look to holiday sales to buy big-ticket items for the household. Additionally, with more consumers planning to stay home, due to the pandemic, 33 and 30 percent of respondents said they will “indulge on beverages and food items,” respectively.
Surprisingly, two hot-ticket items of the 2019 holiday season, experiential and resale gifts, which were projected to continue to grow in years to come, will see a decline this year. Instead, top items for gifting are gift cards and clothing, with cash being the most wanted item to receive by respondents.
When shopping, Deloitte’s data revealed consumers are planning to shop fewer days this holiday season and at the same time plan to shop from fewer stores overall. In fact, the average shopping window is expected to be 1.5 weeks shorter this year. According to the company, the shorted shopping period can be explained by consumers’ desire to avoid crowds, shop closer to home, and shift toward purchasing online while maintaining flexibility in personal budgets.
Contactless experiences have gained importance as consumers search for safe and convenient shopping. More than half of consumers told Deloitte they are “anxious about shopping in-store during the holiday season due to COVID-19” and 49 percent said they will not return to pre-COVID-19 shopping behaviors until a vaccine is developed. Nearly two-thirds of consumers said they will shop online to avoid crowds, while 64 percent said they will shop online because they prefer the convenience of shopping at home, and 60 percent said they want to take advantage of free shipping or delivery options.
Free return shipping is also expected to be in higher demand with 70 percent of consumers saying they prefer to shop with a retailer that offers this option to make product returns more convenient.
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