Survey: Holiday shopping season could extend into early 2022

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture
Many shoppers are delaying their holiday purchases in hopes of discounts and increased inventory.

Consumers are considering delaying some holiday purchases until early 2022 — particularly in certain categories.

Half of U.S. consumers (51%) are considering waiting until January or February to some purchases they originally planned for the holidays, according to a survey from global shipping and mailing company Pitney Bowes. The survey found that consumers, in the face of supply chain disruption, are hopeful for discounts and increased inventory following the holidays.

As to which items they would consider waiting to purchase until early 2022 (rather than purchasing during the holidays), the most popular product category is electronics, with 30% of all consumers holding out on electronics purchases, likely due to current inventory shortages, compounded by chip shortages and the promise of discounts on high-value products after the holidays.

Apparel comes in at a close second, with 21% of all consumers, 31% of Gen Zers, and 25% of millennials waiting until the new year to make their purchases.

“We’re seeing that shoppers are paying close attention to headlines about inventory challenges and have tempered their expectations accordingly,” said Vijay Ramachandran, VP market strategy for global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes. “Beyond waiting for specific product categories, we anticipate consumer plans for early 2022 purchases to be driven heavily by redeeming of gift cards, as uncovered by our recent survey data recent survey data. This will likely extend the holiday season even longer for retailers.”

Additional key trends uncovered by the survey include:

When looking at younger generations the percentage of consumers delaying making purchases grows, with about two-thirds of both Gen Zers and millennials holding out for 2022 sales.

  • Two-thirds (68%) of consumers expect to find a lot of items out of stock this holiday, but only a quarter (26%) hold retailers responsible for delays and shortages.

Almost half (45%) of consumers said they didn’t see the deals they expected early in the holiday season, and 43% said they were postponing purchases ahead of the holiday to see the best deals.

  • Two-thirds (69%) of consumers are expecting supply chain issues to continue into early next year, and 62% expect them to continue throughout 2022.

Given that half of U.S. consumers still plan to purchase holiday gifts during traditional peak season timing this year, Pitney Bowes also surveyed consumer expectations around delivery timing, specifically looking at the importance of Estimated Delivery Dates (EDDs) when purchasing holiday gifts.

  • Three-quarters (76%) of shoppers say they will contact customer care if their online order doesn’t arrive by the date promised, but that percentage is cut in half if a retailer updates an estimated delivery date in tracking messages.
  • In a situation where a retailer provides an updated delivery date, more than half of Millennials say they’ll recommend that retailer to friends & family.

The BOXpoll consumer survey by Pitney Bowes is a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture and e-commerce logistics. Morning Consult conducts weekly polls on behalf of Pitney Bowes among a national sample of more than 2,000 online shoppers.