It's A COVID-19 Christmas: Shoppers Expect To Spend Less This Year

COVID-19 might disappear and the economy could rebound overnight, but holiday shopping will still be different this year due to the pandemic, judging by The Holidays Are Coming, a study by Cheetah Digital. 

First, 56% will be spending less this season due to tight budgets. Only 3% plan to spend more.  

In another shift, 78% believe holiday shopping will be done earlier to allow for delivery times. That means more buying in October and early November, the study notes.   

Black Friday and Cyber Monday could well lose some of their power in this environment — you better gear up your email campaigns right now: 

- How do people plan to shop? 

- Overall, 66% will shop for gifts online, and over 50% will buy online and pick up in-store.   

- But 53% of consumers in Europe will buy in brick-and-mortar stores, versus 19% in Central America. 

Overall, 66% of holiday dinner fixings will be bought in-store. Of celebrants who order groceries online, 26% will choose to have them delivered to the home, and 7% will opt for curbside pick-up. 



You have to wonder if holiday shopping will ever return to "normal."

What kinds of gifts do people plan to buy? Globally, they expect to purchase: 

  • Clothes and shoes — 65%
  • Home Goods — 52%
  • Electronics: PCs, laptops, tablets — 51% 
  • Toys — 42%
  • Video and computer games — 25%
  • Cosmetics or perfume — 23%
  • Jewelry — 17%

Buying choices vary by region. In North America, 89% of shoppers plan to buy PCs, laptops and tablets. In Europe, the top choice for 73% is apparel and shoes, while 90% in Central America say the same thing. 

Meanwhile, 19% expect to buy more gift cards than they did in 2019.  

Finally, people plan to celebrate differently, based on location. Overall, 61% will see friends and family online. But 64% in Europe expect these visits will be in person. 

Only 31% will delivery gifts in person, and 48% will have them sent directly when they buy them online. That percentage is 64% in North America.  

But here’s one warning for ecommerce brands about chargebacks. 

“In addition to the customary friendly fraud, we’re seeing an unprecedented uptick in chargebacks related to delivery and service issues—a situation that could become the ‘new normal’ in retail,” states Monica Eaton-Cardone, co-founder and chief operating officer of Chargebacks911. 

All the more reason to have a strong transactional email system that alerts people about delays and other customer service issues. 

Cheetah Digital surveyed 261 employees and clients in Asia, Europe and Central and North America. 

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