Betting On Black Friday: Shoppers Are Waiting For Deals Despite Fear Of Shipping Delays

Hold the presses. Contrary to what you may have heard, most consumers are not shopping early this year. 

They’re slow to start despite supply-chain worries: 41% haven't started any shopping yet, and a mere 20% have completed all their holiday purchasing, according to a study from Cordial, conducted by Dynata. 

Yet 70% are  concerned about orders not arriving on time. 

“There is an interesting paradox at play with consumers,” states Carrie Parker, SVP, marketing at Cordial. “They are aware of the challenging market conditions and likelihood of shipping problems but are sticking to typical patterns and perhaps playing the odds when it comes to shopping choices.”  

All this suggests that brands should adhere to traditional email cadences.

“There is an opportunity for marketers to use this holiday season to engage thoughtfully, and use email as an especially powerful channel with which to help consumers navigate the new set of complex challenges we're seeing this year," Parker says. 



For instance, “using artful combinations of real-time supply chain data and knowledge of the customer to offer alternative “you might also like” options, or messaging with incredibly specific and timely updates on shipping expectations, are going to be key over the next couple of weeks,” Parker continues. 

Overall, 51% expect to maintain their spending levels from recent years on the big sales days.  Another 26.3% plan to shop more, and 22% less.

Gen Zers are most concerned about orders not arriving on time—82% are, versus 77% of millennials and 55% of those aged 65+.

What would shoppers do if an item was unavailable?

For 38%, the response would be to buy a similar product even if it was of lower quality, with women more likely to do so than men. And 46% would buy a gift card from a retailer that sells the out-of-stock item. Again, women are more likely to do so. 

Others would pursue these options: 

  • Buy a charitable gift (e.g., a donation in someone’s name)—13% 
  • Buy the gift of an experience (e.g. restaurant, spa, services)—29%
  • Not make a purchase—17%

Meanwhile, 90% prefer to buy from companies that give back to society in some way. And 93% agree with this statement: “Now more than ever, I feel it is important for brands to demonstrate kindness in their marketing and advertising.”

Earlier this fall, an NPD Group survey found that 51% of U.S. consumers planned to start shopping before Thanksgiving Day -- a slight increase over last year. Of those, over 66% planned to start in October. But younger people were holding out for deals, especially Gen Zers. 

Parker concludes, “Marketers that are able to leverage customer data and insight to provide personalized cross-channel marketing experiences, layered on top of authentic, CSR-focused brand images, are best-positioned to outperform competitors.”

Cordial and Dynata surveyed 1,002 U.S. consumers between November 5-7, 2021.


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