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Latest Report: COVID-19 Will Impact 2021 Holiday Spend; This Time Positively

  • Interest in in-store shopping is up over 100% year-over-year — but hybrid shopping methods may be key to success as infection rates vary

Emodo, an Ericsson company providing high-impact audience, inventory, and creative advertising solutions, released data from its 2021 Holiday Consumer Report. The report gives a glimpse into shopping plans this holiday season, highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on individuals’ projected spend, and the disparity in optimism between men and women. It also illuminates key areas where the ongoing pandemic has impacted consumer shopping behavior, from methods, to brand loyalty and product type.

Emodo conducted this custom quantitative research panel survey in late July of 2021. The study included  1200 participants aimed to reflect the demographics of the United States census. The data includes year-over-year data from Emodo’s 2020 Holiday research, which was conducted at the same time last year.

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Should Retailers Expect Another ‘COVID Christmas?’

“Revenge spending” drove increased sales in the wake of lockdowns, but Emodo’s survey suggests retailers may reap benefits differently this holiday season. More than half of those surveyed cite COVID-19 as the driving factor in their holiday plans — and spend. But it’s a nearly equal split between optimism and pessimism: Half cite the significantly decreased risk of COVID-19 as an advantage, while the other half worry about increased risk with virus variants, like Delta, as a hindrance.

The data also suggests men are far more optimistic in their outlook this year than their female counterparts: 52% of male respondents plan to spend more on holiday shopping than last year, compared to only 34% of women. Brands may do well to focus on engaging men this coming holiday, to make use of their rosier view.

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Hybrid shopping methods will be the key to success

Over a third of respondents said that they want to do more in-store shopping this holiday season, with interest in in-store up over 100% year-over-year (from 17% up to 37%). At the same time, in-store shopping sees the greatest correlation with increased spend. But with nationwide spikes in COVID-19 cases, traditional in-store experiences may be impacted, making innovative, hybrid shopping experiences the key to success in specific regions.

40% of consumers intend to use new methods more often this year, specifically online ordering to in-store and curbside pickup. Nearly half of all respondents (41%) plan to spend more on gifts than last year, which bodes especially well for retailers offering hybrid sales solutions.

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COVID-19 broke routine & brand loyalty

Nationwide lockdowns over the past year swiftly broke people out of their usual routines, and it shows in the data. Over half of consumers are more open to trying new brands, and have taken to experimenting with DIY products in droves. Products in fashion and electronics categories are predicted to be the biggest movers in spend compared to 2020.

“We’re over a year and a half into the pandemic, and we’re seeing customer behavior fluctuate significantly compared to last year,” remarks Alistair Goodman, CEO & General Manager of Emodo. “We’re advising brands to continue to adapt to these changing circumstances and meet consumers on mobile and where they are. At Emodo, our objective is to enable advertisers to establish the most effective connections with consumers. Our annual consumer holiday study informs the market about how consumers are thinking and that helps retail, auto, travel and other brands adjust their holiday strategies for greater success.”

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