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Deloitte: Contactless and online shopping in big demand this holiday season

Consumer anxiety over COVID-19 means retailers who remove the need for personal contact from shopping may have the brightest holiday.

According to the 35th annual Deloitte consumer holiday survey, nearly 51% of respondents feel anxious about shopping in-store, and 64% of the average consumer holiday budget is expected to be spent online. Among those who plan to shop predominantly online, nearly two-thirds will shop online to avoid crowds (65%) and/or because they prefer the convenience of shopping at home (64%). Six in 10 want to take advantage of free shipping or delivery options.

As a result, contactless shopping experiences are in great demand, with 73% of respondents planning to have items delivered using traditional delivery players. Furthermore, the use of curbside pickup options (27%) is expected to more than double from 2019, and 70% of respondents prefer retailers who offer free return shipping. These behaviors may last beyond the holiday season, as almost half (49%) of respondents won’t return to pre-COVID shopping behavior until a vaccine is developed.

Consumer spending trends are also shifting in response to the pandemic. Spending on gifts and gift cards is forecast to be $487 per household, a decline of 5% since 2019. Spending is expected to shift to non-gift purchases ($435, up 12% from 2019). Average holiday spend per household will average $1,387, down 7% from 2019. 

Sixty-one percent of respondents plan to begin shopping before Thanksgiving, with an expected average spend of $1,537 per household. Another 39% of respondents plan to begin shopping on Thanksgiving or later, with an expected average spend of $1,149 per household. Moreover, respondents who plan to shop on major event days plan to spend more than the average shopper. And respondents of all age groups are likely to rely more on Cyber Monday (29%) than Black Friday (24%).

Other interesting findings include:
•    Respondents plan to complete their holiday shopping in only 5.9 weeks, which is 1.5 weeks shorter than prior years. 
•    While safety and convenience are important, 61% of respondents cited a “great deal” as relevant in selecting a retailer.

“In this season of uncertainty, price, value and convenience continue to be top considerations for consumers, as is the desire to get creative with how they celebrate the season with family, friends and pets, no matter the circumstances. The key for retailers is to stay flexible and offer options that appeal to consumers’ changing behaviors and address their evolving needs. Those that do will likely be better positioned for a bright holiday season,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader. 

Deloitte surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. consumers.

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