With November comes the official end of spooky season: Cue the Christmas carols and the return of Starbucks holiday drinks! In our latest monthly consumer pulse survey, we wanted to get a sense of how consumers plan to shop this winter holiday season. Here’s what we found:

  1. Nearly two-thirds of consumers expect to spend the same or more than they did in 2022. According to Forrester’s October 2023 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey, 40% of US consumers expect to spend the same for holiday gifts as they did in 2022, while 24% expect to spend more. Additionally, 20% plan to spend less, 9% have not thought about the holidays yet, and 7% don’t plan to shop this holiday season at all. How do we expect overall spending to play out? Forrester forecasts total end-of-year holiday retail sales in the US to reach $969 billion, a 4.3% year-over-year increase (if also an annual growth rate that is slightly lower than last year).
  2. More consumers will opt to shop in-store than last year. After the pandemic put a damper on in-store shopping, consumers are eager to get back in stores. Thirty percent of US online adults told us they plan to do more in-store shopping in general this year (vs. 22% in 2022), while 26% said they plan to go to stores and/or malls on Black Friday weekend (vs. 16% last year). Fully 26% plan to avoid shopping in person when possible, however.
  3. Shoppers will seek out deals, sales events, and values-based retailers. One-quarter of US online adults say they have less money to spend this holiday season than they did last year. It’s no surprise, then, that 52% plan to watch for deals and special offers online and 39% plan to do the same offline. Twenty-four percent told us that they plan to actively look to buy from retailers and brands that are transparent about their corporate practice, and 22% said they’ll look for environmentally friendly/sustainable products to give as gifts.
  4. Almost half of US online adults expect to purchase gift cards. Gift cards topped the list in terms of what 49% of US online adults plan to buy as gifts this holiday season. Gift cards are an untapped opportunity for retailers, which can get more value out of their gift card strategies. For example, incorporating gift cards into post-holiday planning in anticipation of inevitable returns can encourage increased sales and repeat customers. When receiving a refund or credit, 47% of US online adults have received a store credit in the form of a gift card instead of reimbursement to their original payment method, which saves the sale for the retailer.
  5. Clothing, electronics, and children’s gifts will be the most purchased product categories. Second only to gift cards, 39% of US online adults plan to buy clothing (not including athletic apparel or jeans) as a gift this holiday season. Additionally, 32% plan to purchase products in the entertainment category and 29% plan to purchase children’s clothing or toys.

Stay tuned for more holiday insights in the coming weeks, and please get in touch if you have any questions.