Nearly Two-Thirds of Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers Plan In-Store Trips Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Nearly Two-Thirds of Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers Plan In-Store Trips Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

79% still had gifts to buy in last 2 weeks before Christmas
Purchasing holiday ornaments in a store

Retailers who have been seeing less foot traffic because of the coronavirus pandemic might want to prepare for a last-minute holiday rush in the days leading up to Christmas.

Of the 79% who had last-minute gifts to buy in the final two weeks before the holidays, nearly two-thirds (64%) plan to make those purchases in-store rather than online despite a surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

This is all according to a mid-December survey of more than 40,000 shoppers by global payment solutions provider Klarna. Here’s what else we learned.

Procrastination common among women, men

Throughout the pandemic, there have been questions about whether the COVID-19 outbreak would affect holiday shopping behavior. For example, an earlier survey suggested consumers would start shopping earlier. Another survey found that consumers were planning to do all their shopping over a shorter period.

If that’s the case, the Klarna survey suggests that many consumers are cramming their shopping into the final days of the holiday season. Women (80%) were only slightly more likely to shop at the last minute this year than men (78%).

Of those with last-minute gifts to buy, more than a third (35%) said they’ll be doing their shopping Christmas week. Age appears to play a role in whether consumers do last-minute shopping in-store or online, with older adults having a higher risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 than younger people.

Generation Zers are most likely to shop in-store, with 67% planning to do so, compared with:

  • 64% of millennials
  • 63% of Generation Xers
  • 58% of baby boomers
  • 57% of the silent generation

While shoppers aren’t planning to stay out of brick-and-mortar stores, safety remains a concern for some. Nearly 3 in 10 last-minute shoppers (27%) said they will only go to a physical store if they can utilize curbside pickup.

Online shoppers open to gifts arriving after the holidays

While in-store shoppers may be pressed to get their shopping done by the Christmas holiday, last-minute online shoppers appear to be less stringent about time. More than half of last-minute shoppers (55%) said they’ll purchase gifts online even if those items won’t arrive by Christmas. Men were less concerned about gifts arriving to their destination in time, with 64% saying so, compared with 53% of women.

Many of those whose gifts won’t arrive on time have a plan for how they will present the tardy present to loved ones:

  • 45% will give a photo of the gift
  • 28% will offer an IOU note

Among those shoppers waiting until the last minute, clothing and accessories were the No. 1 gift to buy, at 78%. That was followed by:

  • Electronics: 45%
  • Gift cards: 44%
  • Home goods: 33%

Methodology: Klarna surveyed 40,448 adult shoppers between Dec. 12 and 14, 2020. The age breakdown for the generations is as follows:

  • Gen Z: 18 to 23
  • Millennial: 24 to 39
  • Gen X: 40 to 55
  • Baby boomer: 56 to 74
  • Silent generation: 75 and older

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.