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Survey: E-commerce set to soar for the holidays

A new survey indicates online will remain the primary channel for Americans to complete their holiday shopping in 2021.

According to a survey on 2021 holiday shopping behaviors from continuous product design firm Quantum Metric, 81% of respondents did more than half of their 2020 holiday shopping online and plan to purchase the same amount, if not more, of their gifts online during the upcoming holiday season. 

With many families unable to celebrate the holidays together in 2020, two in three consumers (64%) expect the upcoming season to be more meaningful than in years prior, making Americans 56% more likely to be emotionally invested in the 2021 holidays. 

The added pressure will lead nearly two in three (62%) respondents to spend more than they had before the pandemic, as more than half (54%) seek gifts that represent a personal connection with the recipient. This emotional spending is driving up consumers' expected budgets, with 30% anticipating they'll spend up to $1,000 on the holidays, while almost one in four (23%) say they will spend up to $2,000.

Additional findings from the survey include:
•    Consumers are shopping distracted - Consumers will take an informal approach to holiday shopping, with three in four (72%) choosing to browse for gifts while at work, watching TV or doing other tasks. Even with their attention divided, nearly two in five (37%) will take less than a day to make decisions on holiday gifts.

•    Retailers shouldn't bet everything on Black Friday - Despite the buzz, one in three (36%) respondents won't shop on major sale days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. In fact, half plan to start buying holiday gifts well before Black Friday. While 66% avoid major holidays due to out-of-stock issues and potential errors in their online shopping experience, three in four (76%) say they prefer to shop more sporadically.

•    Millennials are personal shoppers; Gen Z focuses on convenience - Millennials (age 25-44) are the most likely to purchase gifts with a personal tie (58%), with nearly three in 10 (29%) taking a week to make a purchase. Meanwhile, Gen Z shoppers (age 18-24) are focused on convenience with 29% preferring to use holiday gift guides and 23% taking less than an hour to make a decision on a gift.

"Our findings show that the surge in 2020 e-commerce holiday sales wasn't just a result of the pandemic, it signified a major shift in shopping behaviors that will continue into the upcoming season," said Mario Ciabarra, CEO of Quantum Metric. "With emotions high, retailers need to create digital experiences that are personalized and intuitive, allowing consumers to focus less on how they shop and more on finding the best gift for friends and family."

Quantum Metric's 2021 holiday survey polled 2,000 U.S. consumers over the age of 18. Using a third-party mobile survey platform, the survey was commissioned in June 2021. 

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