4 in 10 consumers plan to spend less this Christmas than last year amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Almost four in ten consumers (38%) plan to spend less this Christmas than last year in the context of COVID-19 pandemic, according to Deloitte 2020 Holiday Retail Survey. The study underlines that anxieties related to financial concerns are reshaping consumer’s approach to the shopping season, as respondents’ main reasons for the increased caution are related to the economic instability (50%) and their plans to save more (40%). The study surveyed more than 4,000 US consumers and provides key insights into how COVID-19 is influencing the holiday season.

Travel and experiences are the items on which consumers will mostly cut back this holiday season, with 34% of them investing less than last year in socializing away from home. Gift cards are the top preference for this year (48%), followed by clothes (43%) and games and toys (40%). At the opposite side, jewelry, pet toys, décor and accessories (24%) are the last options considered as a gift for this year’s holiday shopping sessions. As restrictions put in place in the context of the health global crisis become stricter during the Christmas holidays, consumers plan to stay close to home and indulge on beverages (33%) and food (30%), the first two items that respondents would buy for themselves during the season.

Whether they shop for others or for themselves, consumers prefer to shop online because they can avoid crowds (65%), are more comfortable shopping from home (64%) and can benefit from free shipping (60%). Half of consumers (51%) are anxious about shopping in-store during the holiday season due to COVID-19 and 49% of them said they would resume pre-COVID-19 shopping behavior only when a vaccine is developed. Besides this preference for online shopping, consumers favor convenience, as 69% of respondents mentioned that they prefer stores closer to their residence.

“Globally, consumers have witnessed high levels of anxiety and concerns related to financial matters in the past months. Approaching the end of the year, they are more inclined to adopt a cautious behavior when it comes to Christmas spending. This may also be the case in Romania, although consumption increased by more than 4% in October compared to same month last year, mainly driven by non-food products, according to the National Institute of Statistics data. It is also worth reminding that the new spending habits are likely to give retailers a boost this year, as some of the budgets once reserved for trips can now go towards them,” said Oana Buhaescu, Audit Director, Deloitte Romania, and leader of the retail industry.

Based on the analysis of shopping behaviour during the holiday season, four different profiles of shoppers emerge in the market, the study concludes. The festive shoppers (27%), eager to buy gifts for others and less for themselves, and the efficient shoppers (24%), who see shopping as a task and consider maximum four stores overall, are the first two dominant profiles. The following two identified profiles are the conscious shopper (18%), willing to pay more for cautious responsible products and preferring shopping from local retailers than national retail chains, and the deal-seeker (16%), who plans to spend for more than one month for holiday shopping and waits for the holiday sales to buy expensive items for themselves or their household.

More details about Deloitte 2020 Holiday Retail Survey are available here.

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