For over two years, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in subdued holiday gatherings and nation-wide supply chain disruptions. However, this year, with loosened Covid-19 restrictions (*knocks on wood*), holiday parties and gatherings are back on.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a “regular” holiday season and so, we surveyed 1,500 Drop members in the US to find out more about what we can expect from consumer shopping behavior this holiday season. Which items are at the top of shopping lists and which retailers are predicted to come out on top this year.

The early bird gets the worm

68.7% of individuals have already started their holiday shopping, due to consumer concerns about ongoing inflation, price hikes, and inventory availability. Retailers are also acting fast; in contrast to the 2021 supply chain shortages, many retailers are now facing record stockpiles of inventory, which means holiday sales are launching earlier than ever.

Online Shopping Dominates

Unsurprisingly, online sales are expected to reign supreme in 2022. 52.6% of respondents said they will be doing most, if not all, of their holiday shopping online. Retailers will need to hone in on their online shopping experience, leveraging personalization and thoughtful UX to help convert online shoppers in a seamless way. Even if a customer is making an in-store purchase, most customers will start their product discovery online.

Happy Black Friday for all and for all, a good night

Black Friday is not going anywhere. Of all survey respondents, only 4% said they will be opting out of Black Friday/Cyber Monday this year. Although confidence towards the state of the economy remains low, consumers have marked their calendars and are making shopping lists, ready to save and spend this season. 

Brand affinity remains strong

What matters most: brand loyalty or value? When asked about brand loyalty amidst Black Friday sales, 60% of respondents noted that for some products they’ll stay loyal to a brand, despite price changes. When consumers find products or brands they love, most will stick with them even as their purchasing power fluctuates.  

Free shipping is #1 for customers 

When respondents were asked what they’d like to see from retailers this holiday season, free shipping came out on top. According to Shopify, free shipping is a key contributor to conversions and average order volume. Additionally, having to pay shipping fees is frequently named as one of the key reasons why shoppers abandon their carts. Implementing free shipping will be imperative for retailers to retain customers this holiday season. Another way to impress shoppers is to implement promotions that get unlocked at different spend levels, or throw in a free gift with purchase. Who doesn’t love a free gift? 

Going home for the holidays? 

On average, respondents plan to spend over $600 dollars on travel this quarter. Technology and electronics, clothing, accessories, and shoes are also the popular items at the top of shopping lists.

Brick and mortar still has its place

Online or in-store? Highly coveted tech and toys sell out fast, and consumers are turning to the internet to get their hands on top gifts this season. On the flip side, consumers still prefer to shop in-store to pick up their grocery, home decor, and shoes. Brick and mortar stores can capitalize by merchandising their stores with the items that customers tend to shop for in-person. 

No Surprise here, Amazon is leading the sleigh

Amazon comes out on top as the most popular retailer during the holiday season. This year, the e-Commerce giant will be extending their return policy through the end of January. This strategy offers greater convenience and accessibility to consumers, allowing for the retailer to garner more loyalty this shopping season.

To sum it all up:

Consumers are entering a unique holiday season this year, filled with economic uncertainty. However, retailers can still capitalize on consumers’ unwavering optimism and willingness to spend during the holidays by honing in on early sales, free shipping, the customer experience and more.