Deloitte: Promotions, free shipping most important to holiday shoppers

Marianne Wilson
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Holiday shoppers are looking for discounts and also for free shipping (even if they have to wait for it).

That’s according to an annual survey by Deloitte on holiday spending, which found the majority consumers (81%) expect that promotions will influence them this holiday season — with price discounts (74%) and free shipping (72%) at the top of their wish list, far ahead of other incentives like BOGO (39%) and cashback (29%). 

The survey also revealed that free shipping is more important to shoppers (85%) than fast shipping (15%). Most of those who choose “fast” (68%) expect no more than two days. The majority of those who opt for free shipping (67%) are willing to wait up to seven days for it. 

"Every year respondents tell us that the most important factor is discounts,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. leader, retail, wholesale and distribution. This year that tops out with not just promotions, but also free shipping.” 

The average household spend during this year’s holiday season is expected to be $1,496. The bulk ($596) will go to spending on experiences and celebrations — including entertaining at home and socializing away from home (including travel and restaurants). Gifts and gift cards will account for $511. The remaining $389 to go toward non-gift clothing and home/holiday décor.

The survey reflects the rise of the omnichannel experience: 69% of respondents plan to research online and make the purchase in-store; 57% plan to do just the opposite.  And 45% plan to buy online and pick up in store. 

In other survey highlights:
• Promotions, discounts, and other offers are the No. 1 thing people want from retailers in return for sharing their personal information, among 61% of respondents—with offers for preferential treatment like faster customer service (34%) and faster checkout (31%) a distant second and third.

• 70% of smartphone users expect to use their phone to make a purchase this season, up from 67% last year. 

• Shoppers’ outlook on the economy is the weakest it’s been in years, with 44% expecting it to weaken in the coming year compared to 27% last year.

• Consumers of all age groups likely to rely more on Cyber Monday than Black Friday.