Supply chain concerns and COVID-19 safety protocols are causing stress for shoppers this holiday season. But these obstacles won't stop them from spending as much as — or more than — they spent last year, a new survey finds.
According to an annual holiday shopping report from the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and consulting firm The Strawhecker Group (TGS), holiday purchases are expected to rise, as will the use of delivery services and other conveniences, with most online purchases expected to be done through major retailers.
Spending looks set to rise, with big retailers on top
More than three-quarters of those surveyed (78%) said they would spend the same or more on this year’s holiday shopping versus last year’s. This was in line with a forecast from the National Retail Federation that the season’s consumer spending could rise as high as 10.5% from 2020.
As for where this shopping is taking place, a solid majority (62%) said they would go to large retailers and department stores this year, versus opting for a small or locally-owned business (36%). This comes despite results in a previous Union Bank survey showing more than 8 in 10 consumers considered shopping at small businesses "money well spent."
According to the ETA/Strawhecker findings, the most popular retailers for this year’s holiday season will be:
- Amazon (79%)
- Walmart (51%)
- Target (31%)
- Ebay (24%)
- Etsy (21%)
This could mean rough times for small businesses, the majority of which have experienced financial losses as a result of the pandemic, with Black-owned businesses reportedly hit the hardest. At the same time, though, many small businesses do sell merchandise via marketplaces like those on Amazon and Ebay, and 63% of respondents said they planned to use such a marketplace to buy holiday items.
Delivery and other shopping trends
According to the ETA survey, shoppers have a long list of concerns this year, including 61% who worry about the affordability of gifts, and more than 50% concerned about empty shelves, unavailability of certain products and shipping delays.
The findings also showed still-strong popularity for curbside pickup (71%) and delivery (80%) amid the ongoing pandemic concerns, up from less than 35% of shoppers who reported using these methods in ETA's 2020 survey.
At the same time, ETA found an increase in those saying they’d use buy-now-pay-later purchase plans for their holiday shopping (12% in 2021 versus 2020’s 9%). Still, credit and debit cards still reigned supreme in both years as most popular payment option that consumers planned to use (66% in 2021 and 70% in 2020).
Methodology: For the 2021 annual Consumer Holiday Spending report, ETA and TSG surveyed 512 U.S. consumers between Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, 2021, to understand spending habits, payment preferences and opinions on emerging payments technology as a leading indicator for the holiday season.