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Survey: Holiday spending shows signs of life despite fiscal concerns

Consumers are willing to shop for holiday presents, but the price needs to be right.

According to a survey of nearly 10,000 U.S. consumers from Service Management Group (SMG), although 58% of respondents are concerned about their financial situation due to the pandemic, 59% indicated they plan to spend about the same on holiday gift shopping as they did in 2019. Another 20% indicated they plan to spend more. 

To quantify holiday spending, respondents were asked how much they plan to spend. Close to half (47%) of respondents plan to spend $499 or less on holiday gifts, whereas 24% plan to spend more than $1,000.

Despite the ongoing financial concerns created by the pandemic, 91% of respondents plan to shop for others this holiday season, with 31% shopping for 10 or more people. When asked about the most important factor when deciding where to shop for holiday gifts, nearly one-third of respondents chose value for the money (32%), followed by selection of merchandise (14%) and convenience (12%). 

The four most popular types of gifts selected were clothes (63%), gift cards (56%), electronics (51%), and toys (49%). The least popular gifts were experiences (16%), fitness (12%), and automotive (8%).

Three in four respondents plan to do most of their holiday shopping online this year. When asked to compare the timing of their holiday shopping to 2019, 42% of respondents said they’ll start shopping earlier. With 61% of respondents planning to do most of their shopping before Thanksgiving, the survey found just 15% plan to shop Black Friday and only 7% plan to shop Cyber Monday. 

“While the pandemic will certainly impact retail’s most important quarter, it’s reassuring to see the vast majority of consumers still plan to shop this holiday season,” said SMG senior VP of research Paul Tiedt. “Brands that take the time to understand evolving consumer preferences, online shopping behavior and trip motivators will be well-positioned this holiday season.”

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