U.S. Shoppers are Already Thinking About the Holidays. Are You?
In many parts of the United States, when the air turns brisk, and the leaves begin to fall, that always means it’s time to look forward to the holiday shopping season. That also means it’s time for Sensormatic Solutions holiday insights as we weigh in, track and report what’s happening in Retail over the next 12 weeks. To set the stage for the merriest time of year, our 2022 Holiday Consumer Sentiment Survey reveals what’s on shoppers’ minds and where there are opportunities for in-store shopping experiences to go above and beyond this season.
#1 Consumers plan to start shopping early.
The past few years have seen shoppers heading to stores progressively earlier, and this year is no different. Like last year, more than half (52%) of consumers surveyed this year indicated they had already started shopping for gifts or planned to start before November.
While concerns about shipping delays proved a significant contributing factor for respondents in 2021, it seems those concerns have waned in recent months. Only 36% of consumers indicated shipping time would play a role in their decision about when to shop. Rather, this year, getting the best value will be a more important factor as 57% said finances will have a role in when they begin their holiday purchasing (up 14% from 2021), and 42% said the timing of promotions will affect their schedules.
With this in mind, retailers may want to plan for their holiday promotions to align with shoppers’ desires to start early. Those retailers with access to robust historical data may consider looking back at peak days in their regions over the past few years and our predictions for the busiest days to build their promotional calendars.
#2 Brick and Mortar Shopping is Thriving, with In-Person Shopping and Other Retail Fulfillment Options
Fifty-one percent of consumers intend to return to in-store shopping for at least some of their items this year, indicating another strong holiday shopping season. Additionally, brick and mortar retailers have a unique opportunity to enhance their own alternative fulfillment options for even more shopper convenience. Thirty-five percent will use "Buy Online, Pickup in Store" (BOPIS) services, and 30% intend to use curbside pickup.
This speaks to the overall expectation for shoppers this holiday season: convenience. While 63% of last year’s respondents said health and safety was a primary concern heading into the holiday shopping season, only 33% shared that sentiment this year. Instead, convenience was top of mind as 64% of respondents cited it among their top reasons for using BOPIS or curbside pickup this year. Retailers who leverage RFID technologies for inventory accuracy can provide an enhanced experience for those using these services and can continue to attract shoppers in-store.
Of benefit to retailers, though, is that shoppers are now primed for innovative experiences, and they’re excited to see what technology can bring to the table. When asked about which new retail technologies they’d like to try, the responses were varied and forward-looking. One-third said they’d like to try contactless stores and virtual reality; 22% said they want to explore augmented reality at the register; and 18% are interested in the possibilities of hyper-personalization.
#3 Sales and promotions will rule the register.
The vast majority of shoppers indicated price and promotions will guide their shopping this season. It’s no surprise—getting a good deal is always a big motivator for shoppers, regardless of other external factors. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents cited price as one of the top three reasons they might choose to shop in-store this year, followed by availability (73%), safe and comfortable stores (42%), and checkout speed (41%). These four factors occupied the top spots for all respondents, regardless of salary range ($25k-$200k+).
This year’s promotional shopping days will likely see a significant boost from last year as 38% of shoppers said they planned to take advantage of Black Friday deals, while only 26% said they headed out for the big event in 2021. Furthermore, 21% said they intend to visit more stores than they did last year.
The holiday forecast
This year’s findings speak to a wealth of opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers as they head into the holiday season. The majority of shoppers are looking for the old standbys of satisfying retail: savings and convenience. This year, we’re back to the relative status quo. Still, the investments of the COVID era will yield benefits to retailers of all sizes.
Over the past few years, retailers across the country accelerated their digital transformation journeys, implementing advanced sensors and artificial intelligence to keep shoppers safe. Now, they can use those systems to keep shoppers happy. Computer vision, intelligence-led loss prevention, food preservation suites, and more can all work together to help retailers exceed shoppers’ expectations this year. These technologies are flexible and limited more by the imaginations of the retailers using them than the technology itself. They can help retailers develop promotions that meet the needs of their most loyal shoppers, ensure BOPIS programs are well-staffed and running smoothly, and provide deep insights into how retailers can improve.
With acute health and safety concerns dwindling, retailers will be able to refocus their energy on developing promotions and processes that appeal to their customers’ needs. This year marks a return to form for retailers who have been building successful holiday shopping seasons on these two elements for decades—and now, they have advanced technology to enhance these areas of focus.