ICSC: Deals, promotions key to holiday shopping season

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture
 Many consumers are still financially better off today than they were in 2019 due to all the stimulus efforts.
Gift cards, apparel/accessories and toys/games are the top three holiday gift categories, according to an ICSC survey.

Shoppers are focused on low prices, deals and free shipping this holiday season.

The vast majority (89%) of consumers in ICSC’s Annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey said inflation would impact their holiday purchases, noting that they would buy brands on sale or promotion (42%), shop at retailers that generally sell lower-price goods (37%) or do more research online than usual to find better deals (32% ) in response.

Consumers increasingly anticipate retailers will offer early deals and promotions, as 73% of shoppers expect retailers to begin offering “Black-Friday-like” deals earlier in the fall. Sixty-five percent intend to spend significantly more time looking for promotions and 60% are willing to buy excess inventory to get a deal.

“Consumers are particularly interested in deals and promotions, and retailers should make the most of deal events and other milestones this holiday season,”  said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC.

Shipping and product availability are also significant for consumers, the survey found. Fifty-seven percent of shoppers intend to buy from brick-and-mortar retailers to pick up items themselves and avoid shipping delays and fees, a 17-point increase from 2021.

Similarly, 67% percent of shoppers think free shipping is important, and 66%  are willing to wait longer for delivery or spend more money (59%) to get free shipping.

The survey found that consumers are increasingly embracing all channels to meet their needs and get the gifts they want at competitive prices. Ninety-four percent of holiday shoppers will make both an in-store purchase and an online purchase with a retailer.

Other findings from the ICSC survey are below.

  • Shoppers expect to increase their spending in the 2022 holiday season by 6.7% driven by an increased focus on deals and promotions, an earlier start to the holiday season, and inflation. ICSC also forecast an increase of 9.9% on dining, bringing the total spending for the season to $1.56 trillion.
  • Ninety percent of adults intend to make holiday-related purchases this year. Overall, 75% of shoppers noted that they plan to start earlier, with product availability (48%) and early deals and promotions (43%) among the primary drivers for their decision.
  • The top three gift categories are gift cards (62%), apparel/accessories (57%) and toys/games (50%).
  • Inflation was also the most common reason consumers cited for spending more this season, with 40% identifying it as a key driver, ahead of wanting to go above for friends and family (25%) and planning bigger celebrations (20%).

“While we foresee fewer supply chain issues than last year, consumers are concerned about the ability to get their gifts on time and for a good price,” said McGee. “It’s clear they see click-and-collect and physical retail as a way to ensure they get the gifts they need conveniently and on time. Retailers should continue to keep convenience top of mind as they plan for the holiday season.”

The 2022 ICSC Holiday Intentions Survey was conducted online from September 23-25, 2022. The survey represents a demographically representative sample of 1,008 respondents.