Why Sustainability Should Be Top of Mind for Retailers This Holiday Season

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Shoppers are thinking green this holiday season.

Consumers are considering the environmental impact of their purchases — and they’re willing to make sacrifices with respect to price and expedience in the name of eco-consciousness, according to a new report from Accenture. (Coleman Parkes Research, on behalf of Accenture, surveyed a representative sample of 1,500 U.S. consumers online, each of whom had purchased an item for personal use online or in a store within the previous six months.)

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When choosing where to shop, Americans are increasingly picking retailers that value sustainability — and that pattern, the data shows, will trickle into the upcoming holiday season.

Around half (47%) of those surveyed by Accenture said it was important for retailers to demonstrate their environmental friendliness. Survey respondents indicated welcome in-store recycling services, with 54% saying they were “extremely likely” to use such a service. .

While retailers like Macy’s and Target offer same-day shipping services in hopes of wooing customers, Accenture’s report indicates that half of customers would sacrifice speedy delivery to benefit the environment — choosing regular shipping or in-store pickup instead.

Consumers’ sustainable-mindedness also extends to what they’re planning to purchase — like vintage items. Around half (48%) of survey respondents said they’d buy pre-used apparel and accessories to gift this holiday season, while 56% said they’d welcome pre-owned gifts from others. Eco-conscious shoppers are in some cases favoring pre-worn items over fast fashion. This rising trend toward resale has helped make sites like Poshmark and ThredUp popular among eco-conscious Gen Z and millennial consumers — so much so that the latter has landed on traditional retail’s radar, inking new partnerships JCPenney and Macy’s at this summer.

When picking what to wear to holiday parties, consumers are also thinking green. Fashion rental services are a top choice (24% of respondents planned to use them), especially among millennials. While startups like Rent the Runway may be top of mind for those choosing to borrow, traditional retailers like Urban Outfitters and Banana Republic are also dabbling in the subscription game in attempts to woo younger, eco-minded consumers.

Accenture’s report indicated that the majority of customers (53%) are expecting to spend around what they did last year this holiday season. A Deloitte report showed a slight year-over-year boost, with spending expected to hit $1.1 trillion in comparison to 2018’s $1.09 trillion.


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