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New Consumer Survey Data Busts Holiday Shopping Misperceptions And Myths, NPD Says

How online shopping, supply-chain concerns, and perceptions of financial health play into holiday shopping decisions

Although retail stores are once again open in the U.S. this year, the ongoing pandemic has brought with it a lot of uncertainty about what might happen over the holiday shopping season. Will consumers who were forced to rely on online shopping last year return to stores this year, or have ebbing pandemic fears changed the game? Are consumers feeling more, or less, secure in their finances? And how are supply-chain concerns affecting holiday shopping behavior? A recent consumer survey from The NPD Group provides some answers – and busts some widespread myths.

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Are consumers hesitant to shop in stores?

Four out of five U.S. consumers who responded to an NPD Checkout survey during the week of November 15, 2021 reported that they planned to shop both online and in physical stores over the holidays. One-quarter (26%) were looking forward to getting back to shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, while just 9% said were still hesitant to return to in-person shopping for the holidays.

Will shoppers trim holiday spending due to concerns about their personal financial outlook?

More than two-thirds (69%) of consumers surveyed gauge the U.S. economy as either “fair” or “poor.” However, 65% still rate their own personal financial situation as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.” Two thirds (65%) expect to spend the same amount or more than they did during the holidays last year.

Are concerns about supply-chain issues and merchandise shortages affecting holiday shopping behavior?

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Nearly half (48%) of shoppers said they could not find a product that were looking to purchase and 52% expect to encounter shortages over the holidays. These kinds of concerns have already caused 24% to shop earlier than usual this year, while 44% said they were prepared to purchase alternative items if they can’t find what they want. One in five consumers (22%) said they would shop the same way they always do.

What’s on holiday gift lists this year?

Apparel (54%) tops the list of gifts consumers have already purchased for others, followed by toys (49%), and home products (36%). However, when it comes to gifts consumers are planning to buy during the remainder of the holiday shopping seasons, gift cards, at 46%, slightly edged out apparel, at 45%.

Are deals and promotions still important?

The vast majority of consumers (84%) said deals are a big deal, with 42% saying they would hunt for early deals.


“The framework of the holiday shopping season has transformed in many ways, but consumers are steadfast in their appetite for normalcy,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for The NPD Group. “Despite changes happening all around the retail industry, they will continue to keep elements of the season’s traditions alive.”

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