Study: Holiday Shopping to Start Later, Take Place In-Store

Jacqueline Barba
Digital Editor
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With fears of inflation and the economy looming, consumers are preparing to tackle this year’s holiday season differently than in years past.

Emodo, an Ericsson advertising technology company and research firm, shared results from its annual "Holiday Shopper" report for marketers, analyzing shifts in consumer expectations and preferences ahead of the holidays. The report, released in September, polled more than 900 consumers.

With holiday shopping campaigns beginning to roll out, the findings by Emodo Institute highlight how advertisers should be strategic when positioning messaging and timing to reach consumers in a more relevant way this year.

In-Store Shopping vs. Online

The 2022 holiday shopping season is off to a slow start compared to last year. Consumers said they won’t start shopping until late in the season and will likely rely more on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals compared to last year.

The findings also indicate that the services that took off during the pandemic over the last two years (e.g., curbside delivery and buy online, pick up in store) will slow down, as consumers plan to return to in-store shopping over the holidays.

For those respondents who intend to shop more this year, 65% said they will do more of their shopping in physical stores. 

“2021 had most holiday shoppers feeling eager to get out and enjoy the physical shopping experience, but this year affordability is top of mind,” said Jake Moskowitz​, head of the Emodo Institute & Emodo’s vice president of data strategy, in a news release. “Shoppers have completely different expectations of retail experiences this year, like availability of products, convenience and shipping speed.”

The consumers who intend to spend more money this year are majority male and overall expect to prioritize product affordability and availability. 

Of consumers who will spend more, 80% are parents, and 65% will shop more in-store than last year.

Of consumers who will spend less, two-thirds are women, and 40% of those planning to not spend at all are ages 55 and older. 

Other key findings from the study include:

  • The economy has overtaken COVID-19 as a pressing issue. Emodo found that financial issues have firmly replaced the pandemic as consumers’ primary concern when it comes to planning and shopping for the upcoming holiday season. Concerns related to COVID-19 have decreased significantly, from 52% (in 2021) to 16% this year, while the financial concerns have surged 153%. 
  • Those expecting to have a normal holiday season dropped from 60% last year to 49% this year.
  • 49% of shoppers expect to spend less this holiday season than they did last year. Spending expectations are even lower than they were in Emodo’s 2020 study. 
  • Men are more optimistic than women about the impact of a recession. 61% of women believe the 2022 recession will have a significant financial impact on their families, versus only 39% of men share that perspective.
  • Hispanic consumers are the most concerned that a 2022 recession will have a negative impact on their families.

“Though we’ve made it through the peak of the pandemic, being plagued by COVID-19 for the past two and a half years coupled with the looming recession fears has consumers weary about the economy,” Moskowitz said. “Whereas consumers aren’t nearly as concerned with the safety of their health by shopping in-person, nearly half believe we’re already in a recession, which will lead to an environment in which many shoppers will shop less this year.”