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11 Trends Expected to Drive Holiday Shopping


From increased budgets to a desire for free shipping to gifts for pets, PwC’s “2016 Holiday Outlook” report predicts the following trends will drive the upcoming holiday season:

1. Bigger holiday budgets: Shoppers will likely spend 10% more this holiday season; an average of $1,121 each. And consumers with annual household incomes less than $50,000 will likely increase their percentage spending levels even more than consumers overall.

2. Chill for the holidays: Hipsters – upwardly mobile, college-educated millennials living in enclaves such as Austin, Brooklyn, Oakland, and Portland – will likely spend $500 more this season than consumers overall. And they will likely spend a hefty third of their holiday budget on themselves.

3. Shopping is social for Gen Z: At 86 million strong, Gen Z’s influence is indisputable in the proliferation of interactive digital content, especially mobile video. These social media whiz kids are tactile; they like stuff – unlike millennials who prefer experiences. Reviews from actual product users appeal to them while ads don’t.

4. Millennial parents think of others first: Millennial parents – often juggling full-time jobs while caring for young children – are almost twice as likely as other consumers to use a mobile device to pay for purchases. Far more optimistic about the economy, they start shopping earlier than consumers overall and enjoy it more (75% versus 61%).

5, Holiday time … and the buying is easy: Used to frictionless checkout online, customers want a similar fast and easy checkout experience in-store. They also want Wi-Fi access to check product availability and prices. And knowledgeable sales associates to help find products and explain features.

6. Thumbs a-tapping in a mobile wonderland: Anticipating an almost 25% increase in annual digital sales, retailers are boosting their investment in digital channels.

Meanwhile, mobile shopping is up almost 25% over last year. From scouting products and monitoring deals to paying for products and tracking packages, shoppers are going mobile.

7 .I want it ... now: Some 60% of retailers indicated they will provide both free shipping and free returns this holiday season – a must-have for consumers. Retailers are offering a variety of online and in-store ordering and delivery (or pick-up) options to provide the optimum mix of convenience, price, speed, and variety.

8. There’s always a deal … somewhere: As global borders shrink and the world’s population becomes more mobile, consumers shop year-round, lured by a flurry of deals and discounts. In fact, 64% of consumers indicated they will begin holiday shopping before the start of Black Friday week. And 29% will have completed most of it by then.

9. Brands matter: Brands matter to 80% of the survey respondents – whether established household names, local businesses, independent retailers, or new entrants. Almost 75% of consumers plan to shop locally while 56% will seek independent retailers.

10. Season of caring: Shoppers are expected to give an average of $244 to their favorite causes: health and social services, community development, animal welfare, and disaster relief. And 75% of retailers indicated they will make charitable contributions. Consumers said they favor retailers who are committed to corporate social responsibility.

11. Pets get a gift, too: Pet owners – almost half of all households nationwide – are expected to buy gifts for their animal companions. They will likely spend an average of $62, although millennials will likely outspend everyone else at $81 each.
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