Industry Update
Press Release16 October 2020

Trust is the shopping experience consumers crave this holiday

2020 US Holiday Outlook: October edition

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1 min
PricewaterhouseCoopers

Consumers are understandably restrained about holiday shopping this year in the wake of converging public-health and economic crises that will likely last the better part of 2020.

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While 55% of consumers will spend the same or more as they did last year, a sizable proportion (40%) will spend less. More than half (55%) said COVID-19 tops their list of concerns about holiday shopping.

To find out more about shopping expectations and trends, we asked 1,000+ consumers nationwide about their intentions for what is shaping up to be a holiday season unlike any other in recent history.

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Holiday shopping profiles vary

A small minority of consumers (13%) will spend more this holiday, combining the best of physical and digital options. These under-35, high-earning city dwellers are not as worried about getting infected (42%) as those who will spend less (76%).

Meanwhile, 42% of consumers will spend the same as they did last year.

The more worried group who will spend less represents 40% of consumers from a wide variety of income levels. They skew older and hail primarily from rural and suburban enclaves.

Millennial shoppers (25-38 years old) will spend the most money this holiday, likely because many of them moved home to live with family at the start of the pandemic, while still being employed.

Implications

This holiday shopping season necessitates companies gaining more robust knowledge of pandemic-altered customer data to better respond to individual preferences.

Consumers to retailers: Please require masks

Health and safety matter most to consumers. By more than a 2-to-1 margin, public-health concerns topped consumers' anxieties about in-store shopping.

However, they are willing to shop in stores if pandemic-related safety procedures are in place, with the overwhelming majority (88%) saying such procedures are important for in-store shopping.

Masks for workers and other shoppers top the list of desired safety measures, followed by capacity restrictions, the availability of hand sanitizer, regular store cleanings and temperature checks.

Millennials and boomers alike told us that COVID-19 safety protocols are essential when making holiday purchase decisions.

Implications

Stores should reassure consumers of their safety with the appropriate measures, as well as by communicating effectively via signage and ongoing digital updates, and forging partnerships with trusted sources.

Point and click, then curbside pickup

Wary of the risks of in-store shopping, 61% of the consumers surveyed said they will do most of their holiday shopping online this holiday season. Laptop and desktop purchases dominate online shopping, reflecting the large portion of the workforce currently working remotely.

While home delivery remains the favored option for online orders, curbside pickup has soared in popularity, increasing 12% this year. The benefits are evident: Consumers get their items sooner, avoid shipping costs and minimize health risks by staying in their vehicles.

Retailers, meanwhile, can use stores — which are located closer to consumers than warehouses — for fulfillment. Most enthusiastic about curbside pickup are consumers 17 to 38 years old. In-store shoppers are most likely to be 55 and older.

Young shoppers (17-38 years old) will use curbside pickup at double the rate of shoppers 39 and older (49% v 26%).

Implications

Curbside pickup offers the ultimate in contactless shopping. Hold firm on digital investment to meet the accelerated demand for omnichannel options that skew heavily digital.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REPORT

About PwC US

PwC US helps organizations and individuals create the value they're looking for. We're a member of the PwC network of firms in 157 countries with more than 195,000 people. We're committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. Tell us what matters to you and find out more by visiting us at www.pwc.com/US. PwC refers to the US member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

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